Close on the heels of the headband-styled W202 player, Sony has come out with the Walkman B143 with Zappin technology (that seems awfully close to Apple’s new version of the iPod Shuffle).
Let’s see what lies beneath the funky exterior of the NWZ-B143.
There’s nothing complicated about this player in terms of features and functionality. It has a removable cap, underneath which is a USB 2.0 port. The lack of tether support could make it easy to misplace.
At the opposite end is a 3.5 mm earphone socket. You don’t have to worry about replacing Sony’s bundled earphones, as they’re durable and have good sound quality.
The player has a three line, 1-inch monochrome display with good visibility irrespective of the lighting condition. A ‘Back’ button and another dedicated to the Zappin function are located in the front near the navigation pad.
The volume keys are located on the top between the Record button (for the built-in mic) and the Bass Booster one touch key. A Hold slider switch is placed on the bottom.
The design is simply great. Its bulkiness might just be giving it an edgy look, but don’t mistake that for a rugged exterior — the display is prone to scratches if not tended to well.
The user interface is as simple as the navigation system. You can connect the player via Windows Media Player to sync your library, or copy paste tracks in folders on the 4 GB internal memory space. Sony has also included their Media Transfer PC software, which enhances the Zappin usability by predefining points in the track for the feature.
The quality and volume of the music player is great. You can select tracks from designated folders. The Zappin feature works for your entire collection but will stick to a specific folder that you’re browsing or listening to. You can’t access the settings menus directly from the Now Playing track but it’s not too many clicks away.
From the Settings menu for Music, the options available include Shuffle and Repeat modes and EQ presets. Sony has also included the one touch Bass enhancer but it deactivates access to presets. A customisable option with a five band graphic EQ setting gives specific preferences a personalised tone quality. All the EQ settings are extremely handy and enhance the B143’s audio experience.
The FM Radio’s reception is average at best, but I wouldn’t diss the player because of that. The only time the static was unbearable was during commute. At other times, the reception is not too bad.
The Record button can be used to activate the Radio’s recording feature as well. If the reception is clear, the recording isn’t bad. The Auto Scan and store option is available only from the Settings menu under Radio.
Of course, you can also save presets by simply keeping the Skip button pressed. The player scans for the next available station which you can then save.
The built in microphone has a good enough range. If left on a table it will record ambient sounds quite clearly. Don’t keep it too close to your mouth for voice memos. It’s quite capable of recording voices 3-4 feet away.
The B143F also comes with Sony’s AVLS audio limiting technology, which allows you to personally set the maximum volume for the player.
Sony’s B143F MP3 player is capable of over 12 hours of nonstop playback. My tests averaged about 13 hours and 20 minutes. That’s not bad at all for MP3 players. Since it has a built in USB port, you’ll never have to worry about carrying a cable to charge it.