Sony A Series Walkman (NWZ-A845) MP3 player

Sony's latest iPod Nano competitor has a great OLED screen, but a mediocre interface

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Sony A Series Walkman (NWZ-A845)
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Bright OLED screen with good contrast, inbuilt noise cancellation when used with compatible headphones

Cons

  • Mediocre interface and controls, $100 more expensive than an iPod Nano

Bottom Line

The Sony A Series Walkman (NWZ-A845) MP3 player competes with the Apple iPod Nano, offering one of the best screens we've seen on a small portable media player and some nifty features to boost audio quality. It is hamstrung by an unspectacular interface and a high price tag.

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Sony's A Series Walkman MP3 player, the NWZ-A845B, is an Apple iPod Nano competitor — it has a similar design, screen size and control layout. The Sony A Series Walkman (NWZ-A845) is available in both 16GB and 32GB sizes, while the Apple iPod Nano has maximum of 16GB storage. If we were chiefly interested in picture and audio quality we'd choose it hands down, but its interface still can't challenge the simplicity of the iPod's.

Sony has always trumpeted the quality of the audio circuitry in its high-end Walkman MP3 players, and it's usually been justified in doing so. The Sony A Series Walkman (NWZ-A845) MP3 player has much of the same functionality as the impressive X-Series Walkman in a smaller, more affordable package. A high quality headphone amplifier means that there’s never a hint of distortion, even when driving the MP3 player to maximum volume. A powerful and easily adjusted equaliser offers reasonably versatile control over the tonality of sound — TDK’s EB 900 in-ear headphones benefited from the custom equaliser setting.

When used with compatible Sony in-ear headphones, the Sony A Series Walkman MP3 player activates an integrated noise-cancelling circuit that detects ambient noise and produces an inverted sine wave, cancelling it out. We gave this a test run and found it performed well in an office environment, where the constant drone of air-conditioning was easily removed. It's not a perfect solution and doesn't stand up to the quality of more expensive noise-cancelling products we've used, but it is still handy. It's important to remember that it will affect battery life.

The Sony Walkman A Series has a 2.8in OLED screen. Like those used in the X-Series Walkman range, the screen is one of the best we've seen, boasting excellent brightness and contrast. With a 400x240 pixel resolution it's not especially detailed, but if you have photos and videos on the unit they are generally rescaled acceptably and maintain clarity.

The main problem we had with the Sony Walkman A Series MP3 player was its interface and control scheme. The grid-style main interface is not difficult to navigate, but it's just not as friendly Apple's simple line-based system. Similarly, the five-way control pad and associated buttons are acceptable, but not brilliant. Similarly, the five-way control pad and associated buttons are acceptable, but not brilliant.

We think the Sony A Series Walkman MP3 player is a competent product, but it is more expensive than its chief competitors. If video and audio quality is your chief concern then go for it, but we think you should carefully weigh up the pros and cons of the Apple iPod Nano as well.

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