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Sony Walkman A845 review

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  • Recommended by TR

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Sony Walkman A845
  • Sony Walkman A845
  • Sony Walkman A845
  • Sony Walkman A845
  • Sony Walkman A845
  • Sony Walkman A845
  • Sony Walkman A845
  • Walkman NWZ-A845 16GB Black MP3 Player (2.8" LCD, Hard Drive, FM Tuner, 29 Hours Audio)

Summary

Our Score:

8

Pros

  • OLED display
  • Competitively priced
  • Good sound quality

Cons

  • Small display isn't ideal for video
  • Bundled earphones aren't great

Key Features

  • Noise-cancelling earphones included
  • Plays iPlayer video files
  • OLED display
  • Manufacturer: Sony
  • Review Price: £127.39

It's surely a hard life producing a small portable media player, taking on as you must the iPod nano, but Sony has proved itself capable in the past of impressing in this area, with players such as the E443 taking on Apple's contender and in many ways coming out ahead. The A-series isn't quite as direct a competitor with its larger form factor, but the price and feature set mean that although a little bit larger, it makes a compelling alternative to its smaller rival.

Pricing for the A-series starts at £130 for the 16GB A-series, progressing to £189 for the 32GB model and a lofty £279 for 64GB of memory. As there's no way to augment the built-in storage, you'll want to ensure you get a capacious enough player from the off, which makes the competitive pricing a boon to the A-series.

The form factor straddles a good middle ground between small enough to be portable and large enough to be comfortable to hold; the 105m x 47mm x 7mm frame fitting nicely in the hand. Apparently this is Sony's thinnest media player to date, but we can't say that attribute particularly inspired us. We were, however, pleased by the construction, which gives the A-series a quality feel which devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Player 50 sorely lack - even though both are made of plastic.

Although we are fans of the fancy touchscreen interfaces of the iPod touch and iPod nano, we have to concede that a return to physical controls is a refreshing improvement in many situations. For a start, you don't have to look at the A-series to know what you're doing with it, which makes playing and pausing music, or skipping tracks much easier in just about every situation.

A few niggles did present themselves; for one we found the buttons a little hard to distinguish between at first. Furthermore, if you have large fingers it's easy to end up pressing the wrong control if you're not careful. The hold slider is well-placed falling under either your right thumb, or left forefinger, depending upon which hand you use to pick up the Walkman A-series.

The simple navigation controls pair nicely with the intuitive user interface. Owners of any of the last few generations of Sony media player will be familiar with the menu system, which just goes to prove that what isn't broken need not be fixed. Our only issue was that album artwork embedded using iTunes didn't show up on the player - but then there's no reason to use Apple's media player with the A-series, so it's not a big problem.

The OLED display is worthy of note, delivering as it does bright, vibrant colours and smooth video playback. The resolution of 400 x 240 pixels is decidedly not record-breaking, but it's good enough for the sort of video you'd want to watch on a 2.8in screen. The format support is par for the course, with MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 and WMV files playing without issue.

On the audio front, WMA, AAC, WAV and MP3 support covers the important bases. We'd have liked to see FLAC on that list, but aren't surprised to see its omission at this price point. We're far from convinced that the benefits of lossless music can be experienced on this type of player anyway - other than a placebo effect, perhaps.

william haynes

February 8, 2011, 1:57 pm

I purchased the 32GB version while in Hong Kong last year to replace my old Sony NWZ-A818 and although it is a good player it sadly does not offer an improvement in audio quality over previous Sony models. In fact, I feel it is a small step backwards in comparison to my old player. Also, when using the Shuffle mode to play music the player automatically defaults to the first track held on its memory when charged via the USB cable. This is very annoying, previous models would simply resume from the last track played when removed from charge, this does not. On the plus side, the screen display is excellent and the internal radio a plus. Overall, it is not a bad player - though it's nothing special either.

Michael G

February 8, 2011, 2:22 pm

First of all, I think the point made about touch screens and physical buttons is extremely important. When I'm on the bus or walking around, I want to be able to change tracks, pause/play and adjust the volume on the go.





Sadly, I'm one of those poor sods who can't text and walk etc, so with a touch screen, I'd have to stop walking, stand still every time I want to change track etc. Which is a complete pain in the proverbials and completely illogical.





Inline remotes don't solve the issue either, as you either have the cable dangling outside of your clothing, or the inline remote is stuck inside your coat somewhere around the chest area. Which is useless too, because all I really want to do is be able to feel the buttons through my pocket.





Secondly, I still have an Sony NWZ A818 and have done for about 3 or so years. I've never felt the need to upgrade or change because it's a stunning bit of kit. The solid metal construction and excellent finish has meant it looks exactly the same as it did on day one. It plays music, has physical controls, is very svelte and well proportioned and sounds much better than any Apple player.





So if I was to upgrade, it would be to another Walkman, and I would always recommend Sony players.

MacSimon

February 8, 2011, 3:29 pm

Yes, but does it do gapless playback like the iPods do?

Ouroboros

February 8, 2011, 5:38 pm

@MacSimon


Does my iphone do this gapless playback thing? (I don't know because I use a walkman NWZ W252 for my music. I tried using the iphone for music initially, but the sound quality was noticably inferior to even my tiny, cable-free W252.) And why would I want the gapless playback? Waiting 2 seconds for the next track seems perfectly acceptable, and most artists intend for their music to have some sort of demarcation.

Metalex

February 8, 2011, 6:20 pm

@MacSimon - I assume so, yes. My NW-HD3 Walkman from several years ago managed gapless playback, so surely the latest models offer this too.





Lack of gapless playback used to be a weakness of iPods. My first generation Nano can't do gapless, though I think this was fixed by the time the second generation came along.

Chris

February 8, 2011, 6:40 pm

@Ouroboros: Gapless playback is supposed to be intelligent. Some albums will require a gap between tracks, but some artists intend one track to lead onto the next, so there should be no gap in playback. A good media player should be capable of using information in the media's metadata tags to determine whether a gap is required or not.





In Apple's case, iTunes downloads this information and applies it to your library automatically. Ideally you shouldn't even notice this happening, but the result is that gapless albums are played back accordingly.

Ed

February 8, 2011, 9:09 pm

@Chris: That's not strictly true. Gapless playback isn't intelligent - it always eliminates the extra gaps - it's simply that, as you say, in some songs/albums there are intentional gaps.

Chris

February 8, 2011, 9:19 pm

@Ed. True, it's not technically 'intelligent', that's the wrong word, but the rest still applies.

MrGodfrey

February 9, 2011, 2:08 am

Michael G: Indeed. I have the A818 too, and while I've bought other players for various purposes, this Walkman is the one I always go back to when the priority is simply to enjoy music. If I remember correctly this was one of the first models that didn't rely on the horrific SonicStage software; they finally "got it" and got pretty much everything else right too - the design, build quality, interface and above all sound quality were basically perfect. Even the bundled earphones were miles better than those seen on any PMP before or since. Since then IMO nobody has made a better player in this class - including Sony. Just goes to show that newer is not always better.

sahil16011990

February 9, 2012, 9:21 pm

I just bought Sony Walkman A845 B 16 GB model for Rs 10k and got bundled earphones with that which fit comfortably into my ears.
These earphones are excellent and would say the best ones available in India with super bass and when you listen to it on full volume it appears as if you are listening to a really high quality DJ.
The earphones have also got a unique feature called Noise Cancellation Technology which works only with this model of Sony Walkman.
Its just awesome for sound freaks like me!!!

Don't listen the sound, feel it with Sony!!!

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