back to article Sony Bluetooth Walkman NWZ-A826K

Available in three flavours - 4, 8 and 16GB - the pithily named NWZ-A826K is Sony's latest post-ATRAC assault on the MP3 player market, an attack launched once again under the now rather faded Walkman banner. One can only imagine the gnashing of teeth that goes on at Sony when anyone mentions that in the 1990s we all had a …

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Unhappy

how to lose your existing customers

Ok, I can see that moving from a ATRAC/SonicStage only world is a sensible move for Sony and removed a perceived barrier to its acceptance ... but did they really need to completely drop ATRAC. I'm sure I'm not the only person who's bought a previous generation Sony (NW-HD3 in my case ... at time beat Ipod hands down on battery life etc + played gapless which was then beyond capabilities of Ipod) and invested time in ripping lots (300+) CDs into ATRAC.

If Sony sold a version of this which supported ATRAC (in UK ... think they still do in JP) then I might be interested in getting one ... if not then I'd have to re-rip all my CDs and if I'm doing that then another manufactures product becomes an option - e.g. ipod touch as it now does gapless and since ipod has become the windows of the portable media world I can see the same attractions in terms of easily available content/syncing that I eventually succombed to when I moved from the superior OS/2 to win95.

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Isn't it a phone then...?

Having not read the title properly, I was confused when I didn't read up any phone features.... hey ho!

Doesn't seem odd they've dropped previously supported formats - would make plenty more sense to increase total support, rather than chop and choose..

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Gates Horns

Ipod.

There are MANY of us, that would not touch an iPod with a bargepole, mainly because it's dire build quality, and dismal sound performance. The Sony and the Samsung are a breath of fresh air...

Will I buy one? Nope, too expensive, and does not offer enough to upgrade me from my NWA-3000.

Make me a 32GB unit for less than £200, and drop the useless H.264 MP4 video support, and focus it on audio only, and i will be VERY interested...

Seems ever since the iPod video launched, competition has been too scared to go back to audio-only roots. Give us great sounding player, that's easy to use, looks sexy and has bucketloads of flash space, and it will sell like hotcakes, you don't need to copy iTouch features...

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Rob
Paris Hilton

sonicstage/itunes

apple's equivalent of sonistage is itunes, which they are still using, and whilst i would agree that SS is worse than itunes, they both still suck, there is just no need to have 3rd party apps required to use a device like this, as sony are now, finally, realising.

I got given an ipod mini a while ago, and whilst the shiny factor was enough to make me load it up with tunes once, & carry it around for a few days, it's just too much of a pain to use on a regular basis, unlike one with drag 'n drop support. -and that's not to mention the non-standard charger, what's wrong with charging over mini usb, which is pretty much available everywhere these days, unlike a proprietry apple cable, which isn't?

Paris, as she would prefer usb mass storage standards to be adhered to.

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At least give us the software....

Sony's Sonic Stage is a blight on the world, but sadly it's the only thing I can use to manage my 20gb NW-A3000. I'm not that fussed if the device can't support ATRAC (Can someone else confirm the formats it _can_ handle please?) however 20gb of already sorted, ripped and tagged music is a lot... and I don't think I have the time to re-do all of it.

So, if Sony bring in a tool to allow users to migrate away from ATRAC then maybe I'll start looking at their newer products. I've always said that with Sony you pay a bit for the brand, a bit for the great hardware and then a little bit more for the brand, but I'm not enjoying being locked into an audio format.

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I don't think

as per your article that in the 90s the Walkman was as ubiquitous as the iPod is today. Back then was the "dark ages" for personal stereos - when everyone had CDs but portable CD players were due to the media bulky, with low battery life and a tendency to skip. They also looked pants, and weren't that life-proof - trying to spin a disc around at a respectable RPM and read it with a laser isn't something designed for shove-it-in-your-pocket everyday use.

Nowadays, I'd estimate around 1 in 3 people seem to own and use a personal stereo. In the 90s, I reckon it was more like 1 in 10. It's also a demographics issue - punks are after all in their 50s now, and they come from the first personal stereo generation.

Anyway, I have a Sony Erricson W380i with Bluetooth headphones with a mic, and with a 4Gbyte card this acts fine as a personal stereo. I can't see why people bother having two devices now - 4Gbyte is more than enough music for me.

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isnt it...

..a little too late?

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Anonymous Coward

expensive ...

£280 for 16GB! the ipod touch 16GB can be got for £200 and the 32GB is only £15 more (£295) .....

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Ridiculous pricing

Its barely cheaper than an ipod Touch, which comes with the best mobile webrowsing ever as well as lots of other goodies, plus a 16:9 touchscreen.

With the price of flash on the floor at the moment Sony are insane, this thing should be half the price quoted.

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Linux

Not for Linux?

Surely if you can drag and drop with Windows Explorer, then it's just a USB external drive, and it should just work with most decent Linux distros (like cameras so)

Did you try it on a linux machine? Just because the mfr says "no Linux support" doesn't always mean "no Linux support" - it just means they couldn't be arsed to try it...

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Paris Hilton

@expensive ...

Pricing comparisons are valid, however the Walkman comes with both wired as Bluetooth headphones. The DR-BT22 Bluetooth headphones alone are US$79 at BestBuy, for which I paid US$129 around Christmas time. And looking at the BT 'phones used in the review, the earpieces and presumably the electronics are identical to that of my 22s, and these head phones are fantastic. I use them with my K790a and a 4GB M2. I'm finding that 4GB does not give me enough space for my randomized day-to-day music desires, which often swing back and forth wildly between bands and genres, so I am looking forward to trying out SanDisk's 8GB M2.

Paris, because you'd pay more for her around Christmas, too.

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Have I Lost the plot?

It seems we all get a little hung up on the wrong things here. Now to me an MP3 player is designed to do one thing... play MP3's?

Now surely if they got rid of this useless notion that everyone wants an MP3 player that can wipe your ass for you and get the morning paper, we would have some truly fantastic players out there? I currently use an Iriver Clix. As far as I am concerned, the interface is second to none, the sound quality is brilliant, and it's not too large. I bought this over 2 years ago. It does everything i want, however i am now tempted by others in the market, the problem is theyre all huge. i want a small light mp3 player to take to the gym, to listen to on my bike etc. When in hell am i going to sit and watch a bloody video on an MP3 player? I see Video as a limited market, not the mass market. Now correct me if im wrong as i may just be strange. But my mp3 player stays in my pocket on shuffle. The screen is useful to navigate and make playlists on the fly, but in no way would i ever want to sit and watch a movie on it. the ipod shuffle is by far the best gadget, however if another manufacturer were to take lead from this, make it a little larger, add a screen, an easy navigation and keep it slim then it would sell in mass.

My phone is a nokia 6500 classic, its slim its nice looking, it doesnt neccesarily do much, it has 3G (WHY!?!?!) it seems this phone could be smaller if not for the pointless gadgets. I see there is a market, but the camera on my phone takes snaps and they generally are rarely shown to people and when i change phone i delete them. wuality is not good enough to print and not good enough to put on screen, so why bother?

Apply this logic to MP3 players, sod video, sod games, sod everything, jus have an MP3 player with brilliant sound quality and a good interface, make it slim make it light. Has anyone noticed these things generally aren't getting much smaller? i used to have a mobiBlue cube mp3 player. fantastic little thing. problem is its shape and sound quality. Flatten it out a bit, bigger screen for easier navigation and a capacity of atleast 4gb and its perfect!

rant over... carry on

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Coat

ATRAC & MP3 etc etc.

Sony have made software available to convert an entire ATRAC library to mp3 > http://support.sony-europe.com/DNA/Downloads/downloads.asp?l=en&f=MP3CT

Takes a while but maintains all the tags & cover art also keeps the bitrates similar to the original rip. 132k ATRAC becomes 160k .mp3 and so on. Runs at about a gig an hour.

Fwiw, Sony stuff lasts & imo has build quality throughout, If all the Ipod owners want to buy the latest 'must have' latest greatest version thats up to them, how old are most peoples main Ipods I wonder?

Im not one for built in obsolescence all I want it to do is not fail & pound my eardrums with beats*. Ill be sitting there enjoying my music from my Walkman that has 30+ hr battery life & is hewn from magnesium thank you.

Mines the one with the NW-HD1 shaped pocket, thanks.....

*AVLS on of course ;)

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Paris Hilton

Not convinced

I have an NWZ-A816, which is a useful little box, but the menus are clumsy and there is no way to FF through a file while playing it. I don't suppose that matters for 3 minute mindless pop, but when listening to 45 minutes of Mr Bragg or Mr Kermode from the BBC is a serious omission.

The battery life is fine. The audio is fine. I had to change the headphones, the cable was too short.

What annoys me is that the A816's much vaunted ability to play video is a sham. Yes, the supplied spiderman clip worked. But I have never found any way to code other video to play on it, and no information is available. Sony wanted me to buy software to do it from the web site, charging more than they did for the player.

Guess what? Mine only does audio. That software should have been in the box.

Paris, because it was a mistake to shop by brands

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Cute but......

This seems nice enough, but I don't trust Sony at ALL, they may not be rootkitting CDs anymore. But the last Sony DVD I had was. Auto load it and it would have given any Winbox a whole new dvd driver. NOT the company I trust with my data. Good thing I don't use Windows. Sony is WAY too in love with DRM for me to ever trust them.

Lets make it lower capacity than an iPod, AND more expensive! Brilliant! And lets pack in weak headphones and tell people to buy the ones they really want extra! There is one they copied from Apple. And you want to talk "Dire" build property? Thats Sony all over.

I keep hearing the whole "ipod Zealots" thing in each MP3 player review I read.

Give me 160 gig, no bigger than a deck of cards, a decent battery life, and that WILL DRAG AND DROP with Mac OR Linux without special software. And Ill get rid of my iPod and buy something else on the spot.

I keep seeing the competition. Either they need proprietary Windows software, "Usually Heavily DRM'ed" or a proprietary format, or are the size of paperback books. We don't buy iPods because they are trendy, "when I got my fist one most non geeks didn't even know what it was." Its convenience, storage and size, and lastly safety from DRM.

My iPod, 7000+ Tracks NO DRM. Not one track.

Give me something better and more open for less money. This isn't even close.

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Anonymous Coward

@ATRAC & MP3 etc etc.

Good that they've (partially) addressed the issue ... but there are a couple of issues

- keeping "similar" bitrate means MP3 will be lower quality given that the big feature that Sony made for ATRAC3+ was that it provided same quality as MP£ at half the bitrate

- MP3 derived from ATRAC encoding is going to be of inherently lower quality than a direct encoding to MP3. Again a big deal of recent walkmen was that they played MP3s natively rather than suffering quality loss from conversion to ATRAC in SonicStage

Thus can convert from ATRAC to MP3 but resulting MP3's may not be of sufficient quality (especially ATRAC3+ 64kbs -> MP3 64kbs)

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Fashionistas

"what a curiously but desperately possessable gadget the iPod, any iPod, is"

Curious, indeed. I've always regarded iPods as MP3 players for people who didn't understand MP3 players. I wouldn't want one, and as even my £50 Nokia phone has a micro-SD card slot and a radio, I'm not likely to bother with the Sony, either.

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C'mon no Sony TALKman?

That one could kill iPhone just because we have all been subconsciously waiting for it since cell phones jumped out of cars.

Also, why haven't they ever released a KITT car PC module that does everything including blow s41t up? Oh yeah, and insert 'your name' instead of 'Michael'

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Thumb Up

Now cheaper

16GB Version now £209 on either Amazon or Sony Style (I called and got a discount!). The 8GB version comes bundled with the bluetooth headphones, the 16GB one doesn't.

I ordered one sight unseen, which is rare indeed for me and I hope not a mistake! I did look at the iTouch etc - if it had an external volume control (the iPhone does so why not?) I may well have gone the Apple/iTunes route (despite reservations about iTunes).

I have had good experiences from Sony hardware (my old MiniDisc survived a battering and sounded great) now that Sonic Stage is gone can only see it being better from a usability front.

I would use my phone, but the supplied headphones are complete rubbish and it has a mini headphone socket, so I would need an adapter, plus at the end of the day if my MP3 player has a flat battery at least my phone will still work.

All I need to do now is wait for the damn thing, the first lot were presold before arrival...

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Anonymous Coward

Possessable Gadgets

>what a curiously but desperately possessable gadget the iPod, any iPod, is

Actually had a Nano for a while and completely failed to see what the big difference was between it and a myriad of other devices. So ended up going back to my 4gb Sansa(which cost less and sounds at least as good if not better), mainly because it shows up as two separate drives when I plug it in (internal memory and microSD plugin flash card). What I dont have to do is put up with the irritating i-tunes software, so kudos to Sony for taking that route.

Final thoughts on the 'poddies' (TM)

http://www.tshirthell.com/store/product.php?productid=910

:)

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Black Helicopters

@Ben Smith

I thought Walkmans were personal cassette players and I reckon more than 1 in 10 people had one of those.

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