Sony Walkman NWZ-A845

Great sound, OLED screen and noise cancellation, good ear buds and lovely design. What's not to love about this Walkman? Oh yeah, that's right, the extravagant price.


6.8
CNET Rating
7.0
User Rating

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About The Author

CNET Editor

Derek loves nothing more than punching a remote location into a GPS, queuing up some music and heading out on a long drive, so it's a good thing he's in charge of CNET Australia's Car Tech channel.


Design

In terms of look and feel this Walkman is a winner. At just 7.7mm thick the A-Series' metal body is both a visual and tactile delight. If you're not a fan of the Walkman's sexy black finish then you're out of luck, as it's the only colour available.

Unlike Sony's other OLED Walkman, the touchscreen X-Series, the A-Series features the company's now traditional Mickey Mouse button layout. Quite how they haven't been sued by the Walt Disney Company is still beyond us; nonetheless, the metal buttons are — you can take a swig now — a tactile delight.

The menu system looks good and is simple to navigate. Our only major criticism is that it sometimes takes a few clicks to stop and start music as the centre button functions as both an Enter key, as well as a play/pause button.

Sitting behind a glass screen is a 2.8-inch, 400x240 OLED display that retains its colour, brightness and clarity from almost any viewing angle. Shame then that there's a slight bluish tinge to its whites.

Features

Regardless, videos and photos look fantastic on the A-Series. The only picture format supported is JPEG and annoyingly you can't zoom into images. The only way to play DivX and XviD clips is via conversion, as the Walkman's compatible video formats are AVC/H.264, MPEG4, WMV and AAC-LC.

As with the rest of the Walkman line-up, music, videos and pictures are transferred via simple drag-and-drop. While this cuts out a bloated middle man — we're thinking of you iTunes — it does entail a few negative side effects.

For example, there's no gapless playback, the device can't be used for listening to music, watching video and browsing photos when it's plugged into a computer, and the Walkman forgets the last song played before it was plugged in.

With no supplied AC adapter, hitching it to a computer is the only way to charge the A-Series. A full charge requires about three hours and provided us sufficient charge for a week's worth of music playback — according to Sony, the A-Series is good for 29 hours of music playback, eight hours of video or 14 hours of FM radio.

Performance

Sound quality is excellent for an MP3 player, with excellent reproduction throughout the audible range. In its default state the A-Series emphasises mid-range and high tones, but bass lovers can tweak the equaliser settings to their liking or choose from a selection of presets.

Some users won't like the bundled EX ear buds that need to be inserted deep into the ear, but without them or another set of compatible headphones you won't be able to make use of the A-Series' built-in digital noise-cancellation smarts.

There are three cancellation profiles available — bus, plane and office. The first two work well, muting the familiar engine rumble and replacing it with an eerie electronic silence. In the office, whilst the most of the hubbub is drowned out, the noise-cancellation circuitry can't eliminate the clickety-clack of keyboards or the squeaking of chairs, which are very noticeable in the otherworldly silence.

Pricing

Up until this point the A-Series is in the running for an 8.5-plus score and an Editors' Choice award, but as you can probably guess from this section's heading there's one (very) sore point: price. At AU$399 for the 16GB (NWZ-A845) and AU$499 for the 32GB (NWZ-A846), the A-Series' pricing is, to put it mildly, on the high side as the 16GB iPod Nano retails for just AU$249.

Sony Australia could argue the point by highlighting the A-Series' superior fidelity and heftier feature list — like the OLED screen, noise cancellation, high quality ear buds and so forth. But what really undermines any potential argument is this Walkman's pricing in the UK, where it's just a mere £11 more expensive than the equivalent iPod Nano.

Walkman NWZ-A845 iPod Nano 16GB Price difference
Australia AU$399 AU$249 AU$150
UK £149 £138 £11
UK AU$258.57 AU$239.48 AU$19.09

Conclusion

Unless you desperately crave the iPod Nano's camera or have a tonne of DRMed music from iTunes, the Walkman A-Series beats the pants off Apple's metallic MP3 player. The Walkman's unfortunate Australian pricing precludes us from recommending it though, unless you can bargain it down significantly or find a way of obtaining one from overseas.

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Don0508 posted a comment   

Walkman > iPod ALWAYS. The beutiful A - series is far superior to it's inferior competition the iPod Classic. I own both players and the sound quality of the classic is thrash compared to the A - Series, along with the many other problems with the classic such as not responding hard - drive and click - wheel.

RST
1
Rating
 

RST posted a review   

The Good:Nice screen.

The Bad:Everything else.

My iPod classic crashed after 4 years. People said it's a good player, and at the end of the day that's all you need, right? You don't want to drop it into it's charging pod when you get home, push the play button and enjoy the music (and the remote control), because there is no such option with this player, unless you spend as much on it as you have already spent on the player itself. You want to find the jack cable, plug it into your stereo, adjust the volume, because it doesn't do a line-out from the pod, check the battery (8-9 hrs in my case instead of Sony's 35...), and if it's all good, pull the cable to your bed, where you can actually start reading, with your music player being squashed under your elbow. Brilliant.
In fact you don't want to do any of these things:
-fast forward with an easy-to-use track wheel
-get your metadata (lyrics, etc)from iTunes
-rate or mark any songs
-create a playlist on the go
-exclude songs when using shuffle (so while working in someone's house, songs like 'kill your mother' would stay nicely in the drawer)
-drop it into your mate's iPod dock
-synchronise it with your always changing iTunes or WMP library
-enjoying different music with one EQ setting (if a nice jazz or reggae song sounds OK, the next Ministry or White Zombie track will sound faaaar to sharp, with distorsion at the high end, though with time I might find out something to cure it)
-decent buttons
-decent volume

If I were you, I wouldn't buy it! I want my iPod classic back, pleeaaase!

Don0508
10
Rating
 

Don0508 posted a review   

The Good:Everything

The Bad:Nothing

I have the 32GB NWZ-A846 and I must say this is simply the best MP3 player ever made in the world, with superior sound quality no ipod or other MP3 player can match.

This Walkman has an OLED screen, which makes pictures and movies look stunning and writings easy to read, the black and white colours on this screen is very impressive and it is always easy to see, even in the sun.

The sound quality is the main highlight of this Walkman, with fantastic Noise Cancelling and a whole bunch of sound enhancing features to give you the ultimate music experience, each feature playing it's part to create the ultimate sound. This Walkman also includes a very High-End, Noise Cancelling, Ex - Monitor, In - Ear Earphones to let you fully enjoy your music.

The design is also very high class and slim, making it very easy to carry around and show-off with, the earphones are also very stylish.
Other then these the only other feature the Walkman has is an FM Radio feature, which can be useful from time to time.

In my opinion it is a positive thing that this Walkman has very limited non - music features, MP3 players are designed to be for music only, and that is what this Walkman does, it is designed to give you the ultimate music experience and does it's job perfectly.

Other MP3 making companies are starting to make fancy, gimmick, portable computers with a fancy useless touch - screen and have completely forgotten what an MP3 player is made for, not to mention their sound quality is horrible.

I have to congratulate Sony for making an amazing MP3 player with the ultimate sound quality and not forgetting what an MP3 player is design for. This is by far the best Music player the world has ever seen and will be the best for a long time.

 

freakystyley posted a comment   

The Good:Audio quality

The Bad:File support, battery life

I purchased a Cowan J3 which I broke after only 3 days when I accidently dropped it. It was great but I weren't impressed that it was so fragile - I mean a portable device should be at least a little bit robust. For it's replacement I gave the Sony a try and I think the sound quality is comparable if not even better than the Cowan. It lacks the feature set of the Cowan but at the end of the day I wanted a music player and this blows my Iphone 3GS away for sound quality. The build quality is more rugged than many others - particularly the Cowan.

The bundled headphones are very good and the noise cancelling very effective.

Another big plus is the DSEE feature which really enhances highly compressed files. WIth this on some of my 128kbps files sound like they are 320kbps.

More file support would be better (DIVX and FLAC) but not a big issue. Also, battery life seems a lot shorter than what Sony advertise. Probably only 6 or 7 hours with noise cancelling switched on.

If you can get this outside of Australia (I paid AUD$320 for the 32gb model including an OEM silicon case) it is outstanding value as the sound quality really does kill the ipod. But the Australian price is hard to justify.

Mountie
7
Rating
 

Mountie posted a review   

The Good:Great sound

The Bad:Poor battery performance

I am really happy with my 32gb OLED Walkman, but the battery performance is nowhere what Sony suggest. Even though it is brand new, I would be hard pressed to get 6 hours of music playback. That said, the sound quality is heaps better than Apple - I know because I have both.

 

Lukas posted a comment   

I'm sorry but you must have the prices wrong because here in the uk these cost £140 while the ipod nano 16gb is about £120 so roughly £20 more...


I got mine for £116..

The expensive models are the 32gb and 64gb models as right now solid state is still expense when you get into that size.

 

GB posted a comment   

I was previously trying to listen to music with an old iPod Nano, but was fed up with the average sound quality. I decided to upgrade and I really was surprised at the difference in the sound quality that came with the Walkman. Yes, it is expensive, and I winced quite a lot when I paid for it, but in the end I'm really glad that I bought it. I don't need a touch screen, nor access to a store with an App that will tell me how many jelly beans in a jar in Afghanistan, but I do need good sound quality!

 

plmko posted a reply   

My thoughts exactly, except I got mine overseas and didn't hesitate to hand over the cash.

winner0
10
Rating
 

winner0 posted a review   

The Good:best sony walkman out there

The Bad:no gapless playback, but the gap is shorter

this is simply the best walkman out there by far and everything from video to photos on the screen is stunning.




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User Reviews / Comments  Sony Walkman NWZ-A845

  • Don0508

    Don0508

    "Walkman > iPod ALWAYS. The beutiful A - series is far superior to it's inferior competition the iPod Classic. I own both players and the sound quality of the classic is thrash compared to the A - S..."

  • RST

    RST

    Rating1

    "My iPod classic crashed after 4 years. People said it's a good player, and at the end of the day that's all you need, right? You don't want to drop it into it's charging pod when you get home, push..."

  • Don0508

    Don0508

    Rating10

    "I have the 32GB NWZ-A846 and I must say this is simply the best MP3 player ever made in the world, with superior sound quality no ipod or other MP3 player can match.

    This Walkman has..."

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