The 240 x 320 pixel screen is taller than it is wide, but there is an option to rotate video 90° so it occupies the more of the screen. However, if you're watching widescreen content you'll still have to put up with black bars at the top and bottom, which further reduces the image size. It's fine for watching film trailers and shorter clips on - but you really wouldn't want to sit through a whole movie on such a small display.
In addition to audio and video, the NW-A800 can also display still pictures in JPEG format, so you can carry round your latest snaps to show them off to people you bump into.
The menu system is easy enough to operate - from the home screen simply select audio, video or photos and then drill down further to find the item you're looking for. The Option key provides quick access to actions associated with the item you're on - such as rotating the screen for a video or viewing album art for music - which will save you jumping around various menus unnecessarily.
According to Sony's claims, it'll last up to eight hours when watching video and up to 30 hours for audio only, and after testing, the device only fell slightly short of these claims, altogether providing a healthy run time from a full charge.
The NW-A800 is a great music player, with fantastic bundled earphones and flexible format support. In terms of capacity, it's in line with what you'd expect from current generation Flash-based players, but with a maximum of 8GB available it won't suit those with expansive music or video collections.
Video playback is less impressive than the NW-A800's audio quality mostly due to the small screen - it's just not big enough to watch anything but short clips on, which is a shame because otherwise this is an excellent player.
Sony Walkman NW-A800 media player
Believe it or not, SonicStage has improved considerably over the past couple of years.
Of course, it's still an absolute dog to use and the user interface is so bad that Helen Keller could probably have done better, but at least the version I'm using (4.2-ish) is stable and doesn't have the totally insane check-in/check-out thing that earlier versions had. Version 4.x will do gapless ATRAC rips, at least on my MD player.
FWIW, I have used RealPlayer to transfer stuff to my NetMD minidisc player, but I've no idea whether or not it would work on this particular device - it's far easier to use, and more stable, than ChronicStage, but you will need to download extra drivers from Real to support Sony devices.
Well I read ATRAC as "stay away", but I've only owned one of their ATRAC mini-disk player (the software was indeed very annoying) so maybe I'm not an impartial judge.
A Video Walkman...
...a Stumbleman, perhaps...?
(BTW - Am I the only person who can't help reading Sony's "Atrac" music format as "EightTrack"?)
Have Sony improved on their PC-side software since SonicStage and the initial versions of SonyConnect? The software that I used a couple of years ago was so terrible -- even compared to how bad most other software for interfacing with portable devices is -- that it was a complete deal-breaker, despite the decent hardware.
Also, does it play MP3 gaplessly? Sony have long been able to play ATRAC without gaps which is nice, but having to convert all your music to ATRAC isn't so nice, especially when their software doesn't provide a way to batch transcode, except in a way which adds gaps. (Last I tried SonicStage, you'd only get a gapless ATRAC rip if you went from a CD or virtual CD, which made the whole thing a right pain.)