On the upside, the Bluetooth headphones come with a built in microphone, which is useless in the Walkman context but handy if you want to use them as a hands free headset with your phone, a function they performed admirably well when paired with a Sony Ericsson K660i we had kicking about.
The player's battery life was impressive. We got 31 hours out of it, a tad shy of the 36 Sony claims, but nothing worth taking legal action over. The Bluetooth phones died after seven hours constant use, but that didn't seem unreasonable. The Bluetooth headphones can be re-charged using a supplied power adapter while the player itself can only be charged with a USB cable.
Mastering the menu system only takes a few seconds
Being a Sony, the A826K isn't what you'd call cheap, coming in at around the £170 mark. In 4GB form that price drops to around £140, in 16GB form it rockets up to a rather dizzying £280. So, considerably more than an iPod Nano or Samsung P2, both of which in 8GB form will set you back around the £130 mark and both of which are likely to appeal to the sort of brand-conscious purchaser that Sony has in mind.
Of course Apple's Nano doesn't come with Bluetooth and while the Samsung does, you still have to buy a decent set of Bluetooth cans and those will probably set you back a touch more than the £40 price difference between the two devices. Add the very high quality wired earphones that Sony also bundle into the deal and a sound quality that bests anything an iPod can deliver and also just shades the Samsung and we'd say Sony are not being all that greedy on the hardware front with the 4 and 8GB models.
At the moment there is no such thing as a 16GB P2 or Nano, so it's a case of pay up or shut up on the 16GB front. A word of warning, though, some retailers are selling the A82 series without the Bluetooth phones bundled. If you see a great price, just make sure you know what you're getting.
The longer we live with the Walkman the more we are driven to an strange conclusion. Yes, the Walkman is good, very good in fact, but like the Samsung P2, which is also very good, it is just not as flat out cool, neat, funky - use whatever you word you want - to own and use as an iPod. This test has underlined to us once again just what a curiously but desperately possessable gadget the iPod, any iPod, is. Buy the Walkman and you will come to like it and respect it enormously, but you won't ever come to love it as some people, including us, love their iPods.
Sony Bluetooth Walkman NWZ-A826K
I thought Walkmans were personal cassette players and I reckon more than 1 in 10 people had one of those.
>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)
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...
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'
"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.