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Sony 64GB OLED Walkman Is Thinnest to Date

Gordon Kelly


Sony 64GB OLED Walkman Is Thinnest to Date

If you were underwhelmed by the incremental new Apple iPods then this could prove just the antidote...

Sony is continuing to up its Walkman game this year in the shape of the 'NW-A840' series - a stunning half way house between the iPod nano and iPod touch. Specs this time around are stunningly impressive with a 2.8in 720 x 480 pixel OLED display (surely Apple has to go OLED at some point?), 64GB of flash memory, an FM tuner and inbuilt noise cancellation.

Despite these features, the A840 is also the thinnest Walkman ever made at just 7.2mm thick. Furthermore you'll find TV out, Sony's typically excellent battery life (29 hours continuous music, up to nine hours continuous video) and premium MDR-EX300SL earbuds in the box.

The problem with all this could be the price. The 16GB 'NW-A845', 32GB 'NW-A846' and 64GB 'NW-A847' will retail for $263, $329 and (wait for it) $439 (£265) respectively, plus we're still waiting on a UK release date and RRPs. Granted as an out and out music player this will likely provide far better music quality than any iPod, but with its App Store, Browser, WiFi and iTunes integration on the $399 (though admittedly £299) 64GB iPod touch you're giving up a lot for that.

Still, it is really gorgeous...


Press Release (Translated)


September 16, 2009, 5:10 pm

Not sure about the poo brown, but are those the bundled earphones?

If so they look decidedly tasty.


September 16, 2009, 5:15 pm

Do want.

Now the question is, this or the Zune HD? I'm leaning towards this now because of Sonys' typical excellent sound quality. It just trounces everyone else out there. That's the one thing I miss about my Walkman compared to my Zune 120. :(


September 16, 2009, 5:25 pm

As I posted on its review earlier, this is a competitor to the Nano, not to the Touch. So comparing it price wise against the Touch and mentioning the App Store, etc is to my mind a non-issue and not fair. Quite why Sony don't have a Walkman that competes with the Touch is another matter. Maybe just skipping that battle and going head-to-head against the iPhone with their new range of phones instead.

As for this machine it trounces the Nano, as you point out, and it will be interesting to see how competitive Sony can be price wise with it once they release it in the UK. It *HAS* to be more expensive than the Nano, you don't get the OLED screen and quality noise cancelling headphones without a cost. But to stand a chance of good sales they have to compete price wise and hope people look at features and quality and aren't sucked in by the Apple PR machine (fat chance!). Good luck to them, it's strange to see Sony as the underdog; they actually do have the better product I just doubt they can market it as it deserves.


September 16, 2009, 6:10 pm

are you even sure that it will be released in Europe/US?


September 16, 2009, 6:32 pm

Looks good, although I do worry that while it's clearly better than the Nano, the pricing will ensure that it's compared (unfavourably) to the Touch. If I didn't already have a smartphone for WiFi and video, the Touch would probably appeal to me more than this.

Personally, I know I'm just swimming against the tide, but I'd rather they lose the OLED screen and simply deliver the best portable music player at a better price.


September 16, 2009, 6:52 pm

is the OLED screen THAT expensive?


September 16, 2009, 6:53 pm

Now this could be a far worthier successor to the NWZ-S639 if they could lower the price by taking away the active noise cancellation (unnecessary if you have good earphones), starting it off at 16GB and maybe, just maybe reducing the screen size.


September 16, 2009, 7:04 pm

@smc8788: You can get it in black as well. And the earbuds are bundled.


September 16, 2009, 7:30 pm

Why does Sony need something to compete with the Touch? These are targeted at music lovers. I will definitely be getting the 64GB A840.


September 16, 2009, 7:49 pm

Skobbolop: Honestly, I don't know. I'm not suggesting it's a huge difference, but it must cost something - in money and battery life.

whitespace: Good point. The earphones that came with my A818 offer excellent isolation from external noise (and are not affected by wind like other earphones).


September 16, 2009, 7:52 pm

There is a new 32GB S series as well. They come with conventional LCDs and have two types with and without noise canceling. Should be cheaper.

The 64GB A series is classic Sony high end kitchen sink segmentation.


September 16, 2009, 8:00 pm

Zune HD will beat this easily overall, if just for the pins feature - new/most played/and user selected music/content on the first page when you start up - is anything more convenient? It has to be said when I first set eyes on this I couldn't help but think that it looks like the 1st brown zune- no doubt it looks better in other colours. If priced properly this could be very good and sound quality wise (that 64GB will no doubt help) will still probably beat the zune HD and ipod in these respects. I agree on the active noise cancellation being a silly inclusion as if anyone who cares about audio cannot use this feature with their normal headphones ( only with the bundled ones).

Overall I see a small but not insignificant market for a compact 2'' standard LCD PMP that has 60GB + storage, along with extensive audio codec support with superb sound quality that could retail for around £100-£140.

For me it has to be zune HD as the balance between sound quality and style with a UI that, for me, is much better than the ipod's (touch or nano style) is just right.


September 16, 2009, 8:28 pm

Chrispynutt: Thanks for reminding me of the new S-series. I suspect that's the one for me.


September 16, 2009, 9:10 pm

I've got an S739F with NC and for me personally the noise cancellation does wonders.

I take the train and/or bus quite often and there is usually a lot of background noise. The NC takes care of that problem so that i don't have to go deaf in order to hear anything. And yes, i've got some quality headsets, but the bundled buds has actually become my preferred choice. :)

If you don't listen to (portable) music in noisy environments though, i can understand why you would want that feature removed to save a few £....maybe sometime in the future we can get our very own customized players and everyone can be happy :p


September 16, 2009, 11:01 pm

The big question for me, a feature missing from the X series: Can it play lossless files? My guess is no.


September 17, 2009, 12:00 am


Yes it does, at least with the Japanese NW models. With 64GB that's enough for more than 100 albums in wav format. I suspect I'll just continue using V 0 files with my favourite albums in wav as I currently do with my X1060.


September 17, 2009, 1:50 am

Actually, the X series *can* play uncompressed audio.


September 17, 2009, 3:25 pm

@acgs1: Uncompressed audio isn't the same thing as lossless audio. I'm no particular fan of WAV files :)


September 17, 2009, 6:02 pm

Please remember the Japanese versions (NW) allways run a different firmware to the international versions (NWZ). This is why Atrac is listed, they still use SonicStage in Japan.

Time will tell if HE-AAC will make it to the UK S and A Series.

FYI the NW S Series has HE-AAC listed. Check out Sony Insider or Akihabara News for the info.


September 17, 2009, 6:14 pm

Did more digging, the NW version of my current NWZ-S639F had HE-AAC, whilst the NWZ did not. Silly Sony.


September 17, 2009, 7:43 pm

Chrispynutt: Do the Japanese really still use SonicStage? Out of choice? Truly theirs is a strange culture :P


September 17, 2009, 8:01 pm

Yes they use SonicStage V (updated to V.2 in June this year). I think it ties well in with a local music store.

Bare in mind Walkman outsold iPod (not including iPhone) last month. NEC Hitachi merged with Casio for phones, brands we never see here for phones. They are like the Galapogos island of tech now. A strange, but facinating, alternative world.

'Thankfully' now Adobe supply a 'wonderful' Flash interface for their products so we too can keep experiencing that joy.


September 17, 2009, 8:21 pm

I think it is disingenuous to say that this player will cost exactly the same as it does in Japan. Over here electronics are priced 20-25% higher than in the west. Take Sony TVs, a TV over here that retails for around 50k will sell for $3-4k in t5he US and £2-3k in the UK (specifically the X-series I'm talking about).

I would guess that the UK version of this will probably come in at ~ £220 for 64GB with the 32GB at around ~ £170 and 16GB at £140 to compete with the 16GB Nano.

Also there is a new touchscreen player in the works as well with a better browser and faster processor along with multi-touch of sorts. That's what they are saying in the NPD division atm.


September 20, 2009, 1:48 am

"Do the Japanese really still use SonicStage? Out of choice? Truly theirs is a strange culture :P"

And what are we? People in the West uses iTunes as well. Last I read, no one complained about the Zune lock-in.


September 20, 2009, 11:09 pm

@Max Power

Maybe in Japan but not necessarily in the UK - take the X-Series Walkman, I baulked at the £279 RRP but the likes of Amazon and most 3rd party retailers sell it for £229 - a significant cut over the 32GB iPod Touch pre-Apple refresh earlier this month,. Yet in the US it was the same price for the 32GB X-1060 and now more expensive (as well as more than the Zune HD).

So th UK doesn't always get the worst deal - especially as the X-series plays perfectly with iPlayer content but the Zune and iPod don't.

No-one seems to have picked up on the dropping of Bluetooth on this new A-series, though I doubt many will miss it - I certainly won't and don't mind using cables as it keeps the cost of headphones down.

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