Overall design features
As far as the external appearance is concerned, the closest relative to the E series model is the S-series
device mentioned in the previous chapter. However, when compared to the NWZ-S739F, the NWZ-E443 looks slightly bulkier, in spite of the fact that the other dimensions are more or less the same.
The model we tested had a red + black case, which, in general, is a fairly good combo, at least in terms of portable players. There was some silver thrown in here and there, at least in the logo areas, meant to provide some sense of equilibrium in terms of colors.
The one thing that is a bit disappointing about the E series Walkman is the quality of the plastic, which is not exactly fantastic; on the other hand, it's not that horrendously bad, given the price. I mean, sure, we would have loved to see this thing in an all-metal case, but, then again, metallic cases are also more expensive, and this particular device is more budget-oriented. Otherwise, the NWZ-E443's overall design is an OK one (for an entry-level/mid-range product), along the design lines imposed by the Japanese company for all of its Walkman products.Size and portability
As mentioned above, the E series player feels slightly bulkier than other products from the Walkman family, given the fact that it measures 44 x 86,8 x 9,3 mm. However, the overall weight is not particularly large, since we're only talking about roughly 54 grams.
The NWZ-E443 will be quite easy to carry around, even in one's pocket, but, given the slightly larger volume, it's likely that it will need a dedicated pocket, or at least share it with only one other device (such as a mobile phone, although that would make one crowded pocket). However, the fact that it ain't exactly super-slim provides a better grip on the device, at least as far as we're concerned.Controls
If you can still remember the “teddy-bear head”-like control system implemented on the S series, you'll be happy to notice that the E series has been equipped with the exact same solution. So, on the front side of the player, we've got the already familiar circular system with four directional arrows and a play-pause/enter button in the middle, accompanied by a back/home button on the left and an option/power off button on the right (these work pretty much the same way as in the case of the S-series, so we won't go into more details at this point).
Besides the front-side placed controls, the NWZ-E443 also comes equipped with a volume control button, placed on the right side, and a hold button (right under the volume controls), whose purpose is to ensure that there's no accidental activation while moving around. And... well, that's pretty much it, because the NWZ-E443 doesn't come equipped with built-in noise-canceling technology (or other features requiring external controls).Connectivity
Once again, Sony opted for a proprietary connectivity option (the WM-PORT) instead of simply going the way of mini (or even micro) USB. Sure, the official explanation is that, by doing so, the player will be more easily docked into the various accessories the Japanese company has come up with (such as external audio systems or docking stations), but the truth of the matter is that it would have had plenty of space to throw one of the two USB versions mentioned above.
The second connector found on the NWZ-E443 is the headphones' jack, placed on the bottom side, in the near vicinity of the WM-PORT. Not exactly sure why it opted for the bottom side and left the top side untouched, but, then again, the overall functionality is not affected by this decision, so there's really no serious reason to question it.
Since we're on the bottom side of the player, we'll also have to add that this is where you'll also find the built-in microphone (I know, not exactly a connectivity option per se, but worth mentioning anyway). Yes, it's quite a tiny opening, but it's sufficient in order to allow users to record good audio, which, as far as we're concerned, is one of the most important features this Walkman player has to offer.
Taking into account the E-Series' positioning on the market, the lack of built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth modules shouldn't really come as a surprise, but, to tell you the truth, it's not exactly something that affects the overall functionality of this Walkman series, and you'll be able to read a bit later just what our comment is based on. However, a built-in extension slot (via one of Sony's rather numerous proprietary formats) would have been quite welcomed, especially for those people out there for whom 4GB (or even 16GB, the top capacity available in the E series) is not nearly enough.Display and headphones
The Sony Walkman E-Series NWZ-E443 features a 2-inch TFT display with LED backlight, which is pretty good for navigating through the menus and even viewing some short video clips. And I'll have to underline the word “short” here, due to the fact that doing so for longer periods of time will certainly affect one's vision and induce some headaches. Sadly, the display is not touch-enabled, but that was to be expected, given the fact that lower production costs were an important issue when manufacturing this device.
The headphones included in the sales package are fairly decent (both in terms of the external design and the quality of the playback they provide), but, to be perfectly honest, if you really want to enjoy the music listening experience the player is able to provide at a very good level, a third-party set of earphones is recommended (dedicated earphones from Sony should work very well too).