Product Review: Sony Walkman NWZ-A816


8 Jan 2008

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Sometimes simplicity is the top priority when looking for a new gadget and as a digital media player the 4GB Sony Walkman NWZ-A816 (pictured) couldn’t be easier to use.

These days it is all too easy to assume everyone is a digital native but when it comes to MP3 players the iPod and its ilk never appealed to my dad. The touch-sensitive clickwheel of the Classic confused him and he would have needed my help to download the latest iTunes update in order to use it.

When I showed him the Walkman he asked two questions: do I have to install software and do I need to read a manual to be able to play an MP3? I was able to answer a resounding ‘no’ to both inquiries.

This little device is drag and drop: just connect it to your computer using the cable included and it pops up onscreen, ready to use.

You can either sync it with Windows Media Player or literally drag and drop your MP3 files onto it because it also shows up on your desktop as an external hard drive.

I should say that while it plays most music formats including MP4 and WMA (Windows Media Player files), it doesn’t support very many video files.

However, this is the case for most digital media players. Files must be converted before playing – just search Google for an MP4 converter tool such as www.media-convert.com, which is free.

The device itself is small, compact and lightweight and while it will not win any design awards, it is almost perfect from a user-friendliness point of view.

The navigation is very easy and intuitive, my dad had no problem clicking on the large icons for music, photos or video and choosing what he wanted to play.

One thing I like is the fact the volume control is not onscreen but rather managed from a small button on the side of the device. I have too often hit the volume control on other MP3 players when aiming to change a song and ended up nearly deafening myself.

The sound is crystal clear, owing somewhat to the included earphones which have buds that sit far into your ear canal.

The equaliser and VPT (surround) sound settings make the sound quality produced good enough for the demanding music fan to get a positive user experience.

Video playback is also very clear but due to the small screen size, two inches, I would never watch an entire movie on it, just video podcasts or TV shows. However, with 4GB of memory, I don’t know where I would store them.

Overall, this little media player is a great all-rounder but could do with at least 8GB of storage.

Pros: Very easy to use

Cons: Not enough memory

Price: €129.99

By Marie Boran