More importantly, I’d say that its audio poise makes for a better listening experience than the Shuffle, Zen Stone Plus or Sandisk Sansa Express can provide, and the level of volume it kicks out isn’t bad either.
But despite all the improvements, there are two areas where the NWD-B105 turns out to be inferior to its predecessor. First is that it’s been shorn of the ability to playback ATRAC music files. Despite disliking proprietary music compression formats in general, I have to admit that ATRAC is definitely the cream of the crop and its omission here is strange.
Second, and more serious, is its battery life, which drops from 30 hours (as with the NW-E015) to an unremarkable 12. In a world where battery life normally goes up rather than down whenever a new product is released, this change is even more difficult to fathom.
So despite promising beginnings and some welcome innovations and improvements, the NWD-B105 turns out to be yet another frustrating Sony MP3 player.
The NWD-B105 boasts superb sound quality – as good as any other player I’ve heard in its class and better than most – is competitively priced and has been freed of the restrictions SonicStage places on other Sony players. But its battery life is average and it’s missing ATRAC support, a feature that would have set it apart from the flash-based MP3 player crowd. It’s well worth considering, then, but alas it isn’t quite the milestone product I was hoping it was going to be.
Score in detail
Sound Quality 9