Sony Walkman NW-A1000
The best MP3 player from the big S yet - but is it an iPod killer?
Another area where this machine - along with other Sony players - kicks some serious butt is battery life. The NW-A1000, which we're reviewing here has a claimed 20-hour battery life when playing ATRAC files and 17 hours for MP3 files, which should be enough to enable you to listen to your music non-stop for the entire duration of most long-haul flights.
The Walkman is, unsurprisingly, at its best playing Sony's own music compression format, ATRAC3Plus, but will happily play MP3 files too - they just don't sound quite as good. WMA files are dealt with by the Connect music management software, which converts them as it transfers them from your PC to the Walkman. Ask it to play DRM files, though, and you'll be in for a big disappointment. It will only play rights-managed files downloaded from its own music service - also called Connect - which will be a show-stopper for anyone who has a library of paid-for, copy-restricted downloads.
Sony's attempt at revamping its connection software is not so impressive. It has met with widespread criticism over speed of transferral and stability since the Walkman hit the shops a few weeks ago, but I have to say I had no problems with it whatsoever on my XP-based machine. It performed the job of CD ripping to ATRAC and transferring music to the device with few hiccups
It's no iTunes, though: it is both slow and cumbersome, it managed to get the album art mixed up in a couple of instances, and it took an absolute age (over an hour - no, really) to index all of the music on my system.
Despite the software, this Sony player is still an excellent piece of equipment. Sound quality, gorgeous design, superb battery life and ease of use make it the best high-capacity digital music player from the big S yet.
But is this 6GB device better than a 4GB Nano? The answer, unfortunately for Sony, is a resounding no, notwithstanding the advantages I've just mentioned.
The Nano not only looks as good, it also beats the Sony in virtually every other category. It's smaller, it has a colour screen, it has iTunes, it has Apple's unbeatably easy-to-use click-wheel interface, and though it's 2GB lighter than the NW-A1000 and a tad more expensive, the fact that it's a Flash memory device makes it a more attractive option, especially in the gym.