"tiny elegance"on by scargums
Pros good sound quality, audio out function, streamlined interface, size and button placement, g-sensor, you name it
Cons replace the headphones, no "leave backlight on indefinatly" feature
Summary My 3G 10GB iPod died after owning it for about a year, and I needed a replacement but refused to go Apple again because of reliability and build quality concerns. My battery would only last three hours maximum, and the hard drive would freeze and shut down every week, distort the music, and currupt the data I had stored on it, until it finally died all together. Good riddance.
I am a PC user, and all of my music is in MP3 format, not AAC, so I figured it could save me some money to get a superior MP3 player suitable for the PC for less money. I originally purchased the 20GB Creative Labs Zen Touch for 266 dollars with tax at a local store, but the software somehow converted about 600 of my songs into inoperable garbage without me knowing it. It also started freezing my computer every time i connected it after the first few times, so that had to be taken back.
Frustrated, I found out that Sony had just released the NW-HD5, something i wasnt even looking for originally, sometime after my Zen Touch purchase, and after reading about its strengths and weaknesses i decided it was worth the extra money over the Creative Labs brand. Believe me, it was. I have always been a Nintendo fanboy, so I don't usually look at Sony for things unless they are clearly the best offering due to my subtle hatred of them, but I could not ignore the new walkman.
It is very small, easily confusable for a miniHD based model, and thankfully there are no buttons on the sides. The interface is very simple to use, and even though I have loads of songs, I can scroll through them and find what I am looking for very quickly, either by just scrolling down, or by searching by initial which is actually very intuitive and speeds things up with huge libraries. There are no buttons that are touch sensitive like on the iPod or Zen Touch, but no worries, the interface makes things very efficient and personally, i prefer having all tactile buttons, if anything for reliability reasons.
Transfer speeds are also much quicker than my Zen Touch, and seems about par with my old iPod using firewire, even though this uses USB 2.0. The design is also smaller and lighter than an iPod, as you have perhaps already heard, and fits into a pocket easier than any full sized hard drive based mp3 player I've had experience with.
The previous issues I've had with MP3 players have been resolved with this machine. I was concerned about battery life and quality, and this boasts a massive 40 hours on a three hour charge, though if you use all MP3s instead of Sony's ATRAC format, you will get closer to 30, which is still more than exceptional, and more than twice that of Apple's full sized offerings. The battery is also removeable, so forget about sending that puppy into Sony and spending 100 to 150 dollars to replace it like you would with Apple, you should be able to buy your own replacement and easily install it yourself for less than half that if the time ever comes when you've dropped it and it needs to be replaced. If you drop it, it also has something called a G-Sensor that removes the recorder from the hard drive as it falls to the ground, preventing permanant damage to the device due to impact. obviously, this has its limits, as a 50 foot would shatter it to peices, but in a practical environment of a few feet, this may come in handy for us clumsy folks who shouldnt be spending this kind of money on easily breakable things. The G-sensor is also used to realign the screen to automatically face the proper direction based on how you are holding it when you turn it on. A quirky, potentially useful feature, but at the time I do not see any real value to it.
Accessories are decent, but nothing to shout about. I prefer the headphones to any I've had included with a portable music player before, in sound quality and style, but if you really want to get your money's worth you should probably replace them. $50 should be more than adequate funds to get great portable headphones. The headphone jack can even be switched to a line out with a setting in the options, which is useful if you are like me and use your MP3 player in your car and your home stereo setup. The case it comes with is just a little cloth sleve, but it does look nice, and will keep things like keys from scratching it in your pocket. there is also a USB2.0 cable and an exceedingly long AC adapter, though if you leave your computer on for long periods of time like I do you may never use it, as the unit can charge through USB. If you are in a hurry, apparently this can get three hours worth of battery life out of a three minute charge through the AC adapter, though i have not tested it to confirm this. I assume that if you use MP3s this will be closer to 2 hours, but not bad nonetheless for such a short charge.
I don't want to suggest that this is an iPod killer, simply because of the huge dominance of Apple in the current MP3 player market, but i think if anyone had a chance to seriously contend for first place it would be Sony, as they are large enough to produce the superior MP3 player, advertising and accessories needed to rival Apple.
I wanted to add, do not worry about SonicStage. SonicStage was my biggest concern when purchasing the NW-HD5, due to my software conflicts in the past thanks to Creative Labs. One thing i have to hand to Apple is their software support is still the king, as iTunes is still the most intuitive and reliable(stable) program out there. SonicStage is very nice though, and has undergone major changes to compete directly with Apple, and i think previous users of SonicStage would be pleasantly surprised as to how much more functional and stable it has become over its previous offerings. The interface is visually appealing and fairly simple, and offers a small thumbnail image of the album next to each artist name. As was mentioned in the previous entry the transfer speeds are also very very fast. I originally encountered a problem with it that would cause it to crash, but i realized it was due to some of the currupted songs from Creative Labs I still had on my computer and put into the library, and once I isolated and removed them, everything ran without a hitch.
"very recommendable purchase for those who are after extremely good sound quality.."on by Ball&Chain
Pros sophisticated, warm and wide sound.. small very very beautiful design,lightweight, good controls(after learning), unbelieveable batterylife, replaceable battery, neat display, 20Gb...........
Cons sonic stage(transfer program) feels a bit slow.. ear buds are average, no decent carrying case/belt clip, remote costs more
Summary I had Creative Zen Touch before I got this great player, so I compare this new Sony with the zen touch.
when buying a portable music device, the most important things to me are:
1.sound quality(over anything else)
2.battery life+ replaceable battery
through good ear phones(I have AKG gold studio, some 55 ohms) +high bit rate the sound quality is absolutely awesome!! most likely the best you can get with your money.
Zen Touch is f a r behind....
My first experience with atrac3 plus on 256kbps was something I won`t forget very soon.. it`s hard to find words for it.. superlatives are far too lame to describe the awesome sound.
you need to hear it for yourself. hi-fi earphones are important of course.
the player has 6 band equalizer.
2.battery life is in my use about 30 hours. and I tend to give the the hard drive a lot to do. so.. I`m deeply impressed. Zen Touch worked some 15 hours on one charge.
small, only a bit larger than a credit card. doesn`t weight much at all. Zen touch weights at least two or three times more!
design is very impressing;
when I first took this player out of the box I had stop for a while to take a breath, really. the pics on the net don`t tell the truth.
the actual device looks much better. Not only does it look good but the aluminium cover,slim buttons and neat display make it feel like it`s a machine from future.
It feels so great to hold this device in your hand.. if it`s yours and not somebody elses.
the player has a little cover over the usb-port and DC in, it`s said to be in vain.
I think it`s ok. it prevents dust and dirt and whatever you have in your pockets and elsewhere from goin into the usb hole.
!!!Important notes from some other reviews on internet:
some people have claimed that the G-sensor doesn`t work automatically like it should.
well. it works, those people just don`t know how it works.(their intelligence is offended because they haven`t figured out how it works without reading the manual) The G-sensor is said to turn the display automatically. it works, but when you want to get the display turned automatically, you have to turn the player off,then turn it side way up and turn it back on, and the display has turned. it doesn`t turn automatically while the player is on.Updated
you need to import the tracks to the sonic stage open mg before you can import them to your player.
it takes a while.
if you wan`t to convert the files to atrac3, the program can do it while transferring the tracks to your player. it doesnt convert those files that are lower bit rate than the supposed converted bit rate, of course.
plays mp3 and atrac straight.
plays also wma(but the sonic stage converts them to atrac3 while thy`re on their way to your player`s hard drive)
Pros Drop-safe hard drive protection, extreme battery life, smaller & lighter than ipod, bright backlight, removable battery, comes with A/C adapterstylish
Cons silver models have a problem with cracking buttons, plastic topside is fragile- as is the usb/power cover (tiny plastic strap holding it), exclusive sonicstage software is quirky, cheap "bag" included
Summary $300 will get you this 20gig alternative to an ipod. I'd say the biggest advantages over the $300 20gig ipod are 40 hour (atrac 48kbps / 30 hours mp3 128kbps), and better bass response/eq (6 band eq only available to atrac converted files, mp3 gets bass/treble adjust only) than ipod.
Get a leather case, this velvety bag of a case wont take a drop very well- will protect from scratches, thats about it.
I left the unit on by accident overtnight the first night i had it, after 9 hours playing 128kbps and 192kbps mp3s- it still had 75% battery life left.
Files transfer very fast. My only complaints are that you cant manage files from the player.. And when renaming files on the player from sonic stage, it takes 10 seconds to refresh the list every time. Playlists have to be made using the software, kinda tedious process. Great player, good bang for your buck- I wish Sony would include an FM radio and recording features, but I guess they dont have to do that to sell this, the Sony name sells itself.
Pros Sleek design, good sound, easy to navigate, good battery life
Cons Awful software, no special features, flimsy pouch
Summary The player itself is very sleek and small, due to its lack of extra features. It plays music and that's all it does. The case is a sturdy, solid (but lightweight) brushed metal. It shouldn't scratch or break very easily. There is an option that allows you to hold it vertically or horizontally (the display rotates either way). The sound is excellent for such a tiny device, and the battery life is awesome. The only major downfall of the player is its SonicStage software. It is required in order to transfer music to your player and is just a mess. It took me about an hour to transfer 5GB of my music and it was a huge pain. The program shut down about 12 times in the process. But once I got all my music transferred, the player was great. Another thing that annoys me is the lack of a case with a belt clip. I rarely have pockets on me big enough to hold an mp3 player, so I don't really have a place to put it when I'm walking around, which is a little inconvenient. The case I saw from Sony that you have to buy separately is pretty ugly. Aside from these annoyances, the player is pretty cool.
"The Good and the Bad"on by ziggyf
Pros Sony quality, small size, sharp display, battery life and removal
Cons Really awful software and Sony Connect website download problems
Summary After watching Sony Japan and UK have this unit out for 2 months, I finally found this here at Sears after wanting to replace my MP3 discman for months. I've filled up about 15gb so far with 128kps regular Atrac songs as a compromise to my normal 256 or the newer high compression 64kps Atrac-plus format. Now the comment details:
The good: Sound is excellent with a few clarifications, bass had to be boosted slightly and volume raised to almost the limit (90%) to match output of same songs on my discman (good for bikeriding, not good with outside noise). The display is sharp and brightly lit, I do wish it could be read without backlighting, though. Once you get used to what buttons do what, you can maneuver fairly easily thru the menus, although I wish "genre" did not get a prominent display line, who uses that?, it's usually not accurate or useful anyway. I also wish I could return to the playback menu a little easier. Once you get your MP3 or WAV files converted over to their openMG Atrac format the transfer to player is quik. One other little known feature; many Sony minidisc or discman inline remotes will also work with this unit, although most with limited ability, I could control volume and song skip with the 3 remotes I own, but no display or menu control (Sony COULD mention this somewhere in the manual or their website details, even slightly??).
Now the bad: Sonic Stage 3.1 software, while still better than before (it had nowhere to go but up) still slowly and eventually freezes up my Pentium 4 PC with WinXP and requires more reboots than I'd like (also certain "unknown or asked for" large backup files get stored on the "C" drive that need to be deleted every so often or the drive runs out of space). I also have yet to get any "Jimmy Kimmel Show Live" downloads to be playable anywhere (they download fine, just won't be allowed to play, missing license info??) and have just about given up with Sony Connect downloads for now.
Final point and I'm not sure it's just this particular player yet, but the music seems to playback at a slightly faster pitch, it may be my old DJ ears that recognize this and it's not enough to make me want to swap the player yet, but its noticeable on some of my extra fave tracks. This is my first hard drive MP3 player, so I cannot say this is the norm for these units.
All in all, this will reduce my music "carry-around's", no more Cd-r's, batteries, and a smaller player, but I still will need to bring a small radio sometimes (for the sports/weather updates that my discman could also function as) so the size thing is only slightly reduced.Updated
updates to my recent review/comment of the NW-HD5.
1.) the barely noticeable pitch problem only applies to Atrac3 transferred files. All my direct transfer MP3 files are flawless in playback other than the prior mentioned minor bass and volume lacking. I've seen eBay auctions stating Sony placed a "volume limiter" on the unit in Europe and can be "cracked"?? not sure if that's the case here.
2.) I have also discovered a possible Sony Connect download solution, I have somewhat less problems with downloaded files when I completely turned off ANY Norton anti-virus (including the worm protection as well) first before downloading. note: these files can only be played on Sony equipment or via PC's with the Sony software.