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The Sony Walkman (NWZ-A818) sounds great, but will its overall performance be able to justify its relatively expensive price tag? We listen to this small wonder and find out what’s in store for those willing to take the plunge.


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The box contains the multimedia player, headphones, headphone extension cord, two sets of earbuds, USB cable, CD-ROM containing an MP3 Conversion Tool, Operation Guide (in PDF File), and Windows Media Player 11, File), an optional cradle, and a Quick Start Manual.

The unit comes in two colours (white or black) and sports a thin profile (9.1mm). Users can find the 2-inch QVGA screen, five way navigation keys, option/off button, and back/home button up front, while the unit’s ‘Hold’ switch is located at its rear. The volume control, reset button, and strap hole (for lanyards) can be found on its right spine, while its USB port and headphone jack is located at the bottom of the unit.

 


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Performance:

Pressing any button turns the unit on and brings you to the main menu. It consists of an Intelligent Shuffle option that plays back songs randomly, Initial Search that searches for songs, albums or artists by the initial letter, Clock Display that displays the current time, Photo Library, Music Library, Video Library, Settings, Playlists, and Now Playing option that displays the “Now Playing” screen.

Sony’s drag and drop feature makes file transfers easier as one only needs to highlight the compatible files and paste it to the player. The player supports various audio (MP3, WMA, MP4, M4A, 3GP, and WAV files) and video (MP4, M4V) files, as well as display stored and saved photos (JPEG).

By using Windows Media Player 11, users can set a cover art to songs or albums, create playlists, and synchronise the files to the A818. Users can also use programs like iTunes to edit audio files and cover art, making the process of ‘organising’ files easier. If an audio file is not compatible with the Walkman player, the MP3 Conversion Tool that comes with the package can be used to change the file.

 


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We have loaded the A818 with various tracks ranging from Jazz to Rock and have found the unit to deliver notable audio quality, thanks to its various ‘Clear Audio Technologies’ like Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE) and Clear Bass. Sony has also added an equaliser mode (Heavy, Pop, Jazz, Unique, and Custom 1 &2), and VPT (Surround) mode to its Walkman to give users the chance to adjust the audio output to their personal liking. One ‘problem’ we have encountered though was the fact that the A818 has ‘gaps’ in between tracks, which is annoying when you are listening to gapless albums.

The stock headphones naturally reduce background noises and sound better than other bundled headphones we have seen in the market. Unfortunately, we have found the cord of the headphones to be on the short side, forcing us to use the headphone extension cord when placing the player say, in the pocket of our pants.

The 2-inch screen was sharp and was able to display stored videos and photos clearly. However, we do not recommend prolonged movie viewing on this device since the screen is just too small for a comfortable view (even when changed to landscape mode).

The A818 promises up to 33 hours of audio playback and up to 8 hours of video playback, giving it an ‘edge’ in comparison to other multimedia players in the market today.

 

Conclusion:

The Sony Walkman NWZ-A818 can handle most of the files you throw at it and has a great sound output, making it one of the best multimedia players we have seen to date. Unfortunately, its RRP of $369 is quite pricey in comparison to other 8GB players available in the market (Apple’s 8GB nano costs $279), which may result in potential buyers shunning away from this product.

Product Specifications:

General
Capacity: 8 Gigabyte
Firmware: Upgradable
Display Type: 2.0″ Low-Temp Poly-Silicon QVGA (320 x 240) TFT Colour Display w/ white LED Backlight”

Music Formats Supported
MP3 CBR (Constant Bit Rate), MP3 VBR (Variable Bit Rate), WMA (Unprotected), WMA (WM-DRM 10 / PlaysForSure), AAC (Unprotected), Linear PCM

Video Formats Supported
AVC-BL (Advanced Video Codec – Baseline), MPEG-4

Image Formats Supported
JPEG (Baseline)

Power
Max Playback Time (Music): Up to 35 hours (Linear PCM & 1141Kbps)
Max Playback Time (Video): Up to 8 hours (MPEG-4 @ 384Kbps)
Recharge Method: USB Power (via supplied USB cable)
Recharge Time To Full: Approx. 180mins (90 mins to 80% charge)

Connectivity
PC Connection: Hi-Speed USB – Walkman port
Input / Output: Headphones / USB

Dimensions (W x H x D): Approx. 44.5 x 88 x 9.1mm
Weight: Approx. 53g

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Sony Walkman NWZ-A818 | $369 |  | www.sony.com.au

For: Easy to use; Drag and Drop Function; Superb  audio quality; Long battery life; Support for various audio and video files
Against: Screen is too small for video viewing; Price
Verdict: Great portable player… with a price.

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