Top positive review
110 people found this helpful
Good stuff, and great value!
on 27 August 2003
The Walkman comes with:
- Very basic in-ear headphones - they're OK, but they could have at least had a volume control or something.
- Two instruction manuals - one for the Walkman and one for the ATRAC CD burning software, which I thought was very nice of them as PC software rarely come with PRINTED manuals these days.
- An AC mains adapter (4.5V) - one of those new really lightweight ones. I assume it can be used for recharging batteries (which would explain the extra 1.5V) somehow but I didn't see anything in the manual about it. It's got a pretty long wire too (about 3m?), which I find very useful for playing in bed :D
The Walkman itself is pretty slim, but is a big longer than most with the big display and stuff. The battery compartment is INSIDE the CD tray, which is strange but a very good idea because the usual battery doors always break or get lost with these kinds of things. Build quality is adequate - nice buttons and everything, pretty metallic finish , but the CD door does look a *bit* flimsy. It has buttons for everything you need, and the jog dial is very useful for easy track access, especially with big MP3/ATRAC CDs.
It plays normal audio CDs well enough, and displays track names and whatnot with the few CD Text CDs.
I burned an ATRAC (which, by the way is the standard format used to fit so much onto MiniDiscs) CD at 48x speed using the highest (132kbps) ATRAC3 encoding, and I fit 9 albums on with about 50MB to spare. The CD played perfectly, but did take a while to load because I made it in 9 different sessions. Personally, I think the sound quality is much better than the average 128kbps MP3, as it retains really bassy low frequency sounds better than MP3s. I haven't really tried any other bitrates yet, but I heard ATRAC3plus recordings don't actually sound too bad for such low bitrates. The ATRAC recording software is very easy to use, and it can recieve CD track titles from CDDB databases on the web.
I tried making an MP3 CD using Nero Express (the Walkman isn't supplied with MP3 CD-burning software) at 48x speed. I fit 176 tracks (mostly 128kbps) on the CD with a bit of space left. It's mostly OK but a few of the traks burned at the beginning of the CD occasionally skip a bit. The Walkman seems to be a bit more "picky" with MP3 CDs than ATRAC CDs. Maybe the CD burner just had a bad day - I'm not sure exactly.
I recommend burning MP3 CDs at low speeds (24x or lower) for error-free playback, and try to burn a CD all in one session as it really cuts down on loading time when the Walkman searches for track names when first inserted.
All you need to do is make a normal ISO/Joliet CD and just stick MP3 files on it (you can use folders too) - it's so simple!
I haven't tried CD-RWs yet but it's supposed to be compatible with them unlike most cheaper and older CD players.
The G-Protection system works very well - even on mode 1 (there's a switch inside) you can walk around and even shake the hell out of it with your hand and it refuses to skip! Dodgy MP3 CDs *seem* to skip less on mode 2, too!
Other things I liked:
- Resume function: You can stop playback, leave it as long as you want, and as long as you leave the CD and the batteries/adaptor in it will start playing exactly where you left off when you press play!
- Multiple playback modes: Normal, single folder, one track repeat, shuffle and single folder shuffle.
- ID3 tag (incl. version 2) support.
- Folder select buttons.
- No having to put up with any copy protection or Microsoft stuff.
Things I didn't like:
- The sound level is adequate for headphones, but as others have said it is a bit quiet when connected to speakers or a hi-fi.
- Lack of remote support. I know at this price it won't come with a remote but they could have at least had a socket for one.
- Lack of support for other audio formats like OGG Vorbis (which I personally think is superior to MP3) and AAC.
- ATRAC CDs can ONLY be played on ATRAC Walkmans, and there's no software to play them on your PC. You never know though - future Sony DVD players may be able to play ATRAC CDs if the format takes off.
Still, you don't expect EVERYTHING at this price and it's still GREAT for an entry-level early model of a new system. I don't know if ATRAC CDs will ever be popular but that doesn't stop them from sounding great. Anyway, it's still superb for MP3 and audio CD playback!