sony bean

Does Sony's tiny Walkman Bean measure up in any area other than size? CNet Asia checked out the player, and found a few good features starting with its "quirky … cute" design. The reviewer also liked the fold-out USB jack, the one-line OLED display (which is, after all, one line more than you'll find on an iPod shuffle) and the FM receiver. The Bean also won praise for its quick battery charger: 3 minutes with your computer will yield 3 hours on the road. The downside: unresponsive controls, playback hiss and, of course, Sony's SonicStage software, which the company still insists on foisting at customers. However, at about $100 for the 512MB version, the Bean is at least priced competitively with the shuffle, making it a somewhat viable alternative for the anything-but-Apple crowd.

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