on 1 June 2005
As usual, Sony have taken the latest music player technology, made it smaller, smarter and more innovative. Sony have been shrinking music players for years and although the HD-NW3 came close to matching the leaders in the mp3 player class, it never quite got the recognition it deserved. The NW5 is truly a piece of art. The pictures really don't do it justice, the sleek Sony elegance is there again, even down to the way the top hatch opens to allow the USB connection. I went for the silver option which looks very "Sony" and gets great reactions from people. Something about the aluminium look appeals much more than the white plastic of the Apple.
The player weighs just enough to make it feel solid while not noticeable in your pocket. The design is such that it sits in your hand, the contoured sides make it feel comfortable and easy to hold, the buttons are just where they need to be.
The automatic screen orientation means that when you turn it on, the screen and the controls are the right way up whether you hold it vertically (as iPod) or horizontally (as previous Sony's). If nothing else, it's a conversation piece.
The controls are simple and second nature after ten minutes playing with them. Same people criticise the lack of the patented iPod click wheel, saying it's too hard to navigate with button when you have such a huge capacity but the simple navigation which can be broken down by artist, album, track, genre or play list means that even a large collection of music is quickly accessible.
The G-Sensor technology means that if you drop the player, the reader retracts away from the surface of the hard disk as to ensure it isn't damaged. This along with the removable battery gives the player a longevity that others in its class simply don't have. The lithium batteries in the NW5 last up to 40 hours, more realistically 30-35 if you're playing mp3's with a normal kind of bitrate around 128. Still, this is massively superior to the latest iPod which only boasts an 8-12 hour battery life. This coupled with the need to replace batteries after something like 200 charges means that not only does the NW5 last longer before the battery runs out but when it does you can simply go pick one up rather than go through the hassle of sending the unit off.
I found it hard to believe that the battery could be so good at first but even after a week's playing, switching on and off, and general fiddling, it still has copious charge left in it.
I've not yet tested the G-sensor and thrown it to the ground but knowing Sony, I'd say I trust that it would work.
Sound quality is superb. The built in EQ allows for some great sound, it comes with presets such as Arena, Studio, Live, etc and has the option for a number of customisable preset EQ settings. All of them give a crisp and full sound. The volume is maybe slightly quiet but any louder and you'd be seriously damaging your hearing anyway so Sony's doing you a favour here.
Everyone makes digs at SonicStage and it part I'd agree. I'm pretty competent on the computer and with a bit of clicking and playing I soon figured out how to do it but can completely understand how less seasoned users might need to walk through with the manual. The transfer rate isn't fantastic, took an hour to get about 8Gb on when I first dumped many of my CD's on but hey, leave it and go make a cup of tea. As far as reliability goes I've had it crash once but am not totally sure that's not simply my computer playing up! With a little practice, SonicStage gets easier and this is by no means any reason not to buy this player, once the music's on, it's on. I can understand that if you have a smaller capacity player with a need to continually change the music stored then it would be a nightmare with SonicStage but when you've got such a huge capacity it's pretty negligible that the software isn't the best out there.
I know I've made a lot of comparisons against the iPod which is a great player too and it did take considerable time before I settled on the NW5. I simply feel it has more user-friendliness, maybe not in terms a click-wheel but the long battery life, the replaceable battery, the orientating screen...it goes on...and finally, the price on Amazon was what really swung it for me, at £183 this player simply tops the market.
on 24 May 2005
Ipod, hang your head in shame, thsi little beauty has stolen your crown. I have used countless ipods and this player really is better! The build quality is second to none and as I am writing this review I am astounded at the sound quality of such a compact unit, it has a nice blend of bass and treble with crystal clear sound clarity. The size is just miniscule for a 20Gb player, with a good weight, not so light that it feels flimsy but not as heavy so that you feel it carrying it around.
Size and Weight
Massive battery life (40hrs) and quick charge time (full charge in less than 3hrs)
Price (on a par with the 20Gb ipod)
larger display (7 lines)
Annoying insistence on grouping your mp3s into albums, i cant seem to get it to list all the tracks under each artists name, its really frustrating me.
Software, sonicstage IS that confusing, it DOES have a good transfer time though, 950 songs took around 5 minutes to transfer to the player. It has a rough layout and pretty horrific user interface. I will say this though, it wouldn't stop me buying this player.
Amazon delivery and service was fantastic, kept me well informed.
All-in-all, a great little player with some very minor flaws, I'm really pleased with it.
on 4 July 2005
Before buying this player I spent a long time deciding whether to go for a 20gb ipod instead. Having read lots of reviews i went for the nwhd5 and don't have any regrets - It can do everything the ipod does but holds more songs, has a vastly superior battery life and a changeable battery all for a cheaper price (try svcdirect or pixmania). The only reason to consider an ipod is the click wheel which is an incredibly easy way to navigate between screens. Having said that, navigation through the few nwhd5 menus is as easy and intuitive as on any other mp3 player so please don't be swayed just by the ipod's click wheel, cos the nwhd5 really is a beautiful piece of machinery.
I've had my NWHD5 for a week now and am convinced it out-performs the ipod hands down. The unit itself looks much smarter when you hold it in your hand than in the pics on the net, and it's very straight forward to use. I initially had problems loading up the software but then reinstalled windows XP and now it runs nice and smoothly. I haven't encountered any problems transferring files - it all seems quite intuitive, although I think it automatically converts all files to ATRAC format unless you specify otherwise so it can take a little while to transfer tracks, although ATRAC obviously uses far less space than an mp3 or wma file.
The machine itself is very simple to use with a similar series of menus to the ipod. I've been using it every day for the past week and the battery is still full, which is a massive advantage over the ipod. The buttons all work fine on my unit although I think some people have reported cracks in theirs. Sound quality seems to be very good so far, even in ATRAC format, and there is a 6-band equaliser if you need to change the sound settings for more base etc. I'm using the headphones that came supplied with it and they seem good enough for my needs eg travelling, exercise etc. As seems fairly standard with most mp3 players you can chose to listen to music by track name, artist, genre, album, playlist or just listen to the new tracks you've downloaded, and there's also a general options screen where you can change most of the display settings. The player comes with a little pouch to store it in which isn't especially robust but has so far prevented any scratches appearing on the unit.
Overall, I am extremely happy with my nwhd5 - i have found both the software and the unit itself to be very user-friendly as well as looking damn good and doing everything I would hope a good quality mp3 player would do. Finally an mp3 player has enetered the market which deserves to end ipods dominance. All it needs now is a catchy name.
on 20 May 2005
Ok so lets get the downside out of the way first. Sonic Stage 3.1 is much better than earlier efforts, but it will never be Itunes. Does this really matter? Well if you are transfering music over for the first time, not really? If you have previous music set ups then converting is a pain in the arse, so I just forgot my itunes files and started again. But once your music is on SS it really is ok to use, but if like me it is more important what the device is like and sound quality then once you listen to the HD5 you'll know it was worth it. The sound is a more rounded less tinny version of the ipod, even at 64kb it sounds better but at 132 and 264 it is superb, and the fact that the minimum attery life i have had after 2 weeks use is 30 hrs playing alot of 264kb music is incredible from a battery that you can replace. Build quality is exceelent and feels better built and looks likely to last longer than an ipod where the clickwheel and screens are too delicate in my opinion. Buy it you won't be dissapointed...
on 13 July 2005
The Sony HD5 is one of the best personal audio players I've seen - it has the size, the style, the playback quality and, vitally, the battery life.
I used to own a Creative Nomad Jukebox, and would curse at its four hour battery life; this was one of the reasons I didn't replace it for many years. The HD5's 30-hour endurance with MP3s is truly fantastic, bringing it up to portable CD player level.
The sound is crisp and clear, with a decent bass response for the size. It's actually hooked up to my hi-fi most of the evening, and I couldn't honestly say there was a noticeable difference between the HD5 and CDs.
The build quality is also very good, except for the top edge of the unit, which is a bit plasticy. This is nothing more than a niggle, though.
Two things which are more than niggles are creating playlists and Sony's SonicStage software. To create a playlist in the player, you need to select each track individually, a real pain for long lists. There's no way to select a whole album, which is annoying.
The software is more of a pain; it's a little bit of a pig to use, and is very fussy about ID3 tags - a real pain if you have an existing MP3 collection.
At the time of writing there are no 3rd party applications you can use, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time.
That said, I've given the HD5 five stars on the basis of the unit itself - this is an excellent player, and once your tracks are on it, you should have no problems.
on 20 August 2005
I am happy with this product overall, but have some concerns.
1) The supposed battery life of 40hrs is rubbish, try halving it. (but still has probably the longest battery life of any product)
2) i have (like a lot of people who bought HD5) found cracks miraculously appear on the buttons, even though i don't touch the buttons as i have a REMOTE!!!!! (however, they do not effect the player whatsoever)
3) i started to get a lot of system errors for no reason (although now it has been fixed via a firmware upgrade from sony.co.uk website)
4) Sonicstage is not as crap as people make it out to be, quite good actually but is,
-very slow at ripping and converting cd's
-crap folder structure (where an album with different artists will be be displayed only as the various artist, not in 1 album)
Overall, i would still buy this product anyday over others, as it's just great (sound quality, build quality (cough!!!) ignore cracks, it feels like a £200 product.
-the headphones are actually quite good, i have the £30+ headphones, which are crap, they are not very clear, and only output very low volume. the generic ones with the product display crystal/crisp sound quality of a high standard. The only downside being that they are uncomfortable.
By the way you NEED a remote for this, as it's nigh on impossible to take the player out of your pocket/case abd search in menu.
Don't get official remote, HOLD ON, brace yourself, £69!!!!
on 8 January 2006
Love it - except for the EU regulation volume restriction. For newer models you need to do the following to remove this: Change the country code to United States first: Enter the service menu by playing a song then turn the HOLD function on by sliding the switch at the top. Then, Hold the SEARCH/MENU button and enter the button sequence: Right, Right, Left, Left, Right, Left, Right, Left, Up, Down. Let go of the buttons, and put the HOLD switch back to its original position. The backlight will cut out and you'll be in the service menu with "POWER" displayed. As soon as you get to this point it gets twice as loud. Press DOWN a few times to select OTHERS. Press ">" then up and down to "DEST". Press the play/pause key and use the search/menu key until "US" is displayed, press play/pause again and then hold the stop key to exit). When you switch it back on the volume has gone back to normal but there's more.....
I don't know if it makes any difference but at this point, with a song playing, I went to sound in the option menu and turned all the bass and treble to max in custom 1 in the 6-band equaliser menu and made sure that custom 1 and 6 band equaliser were ticked before going back to the playback screen.
After this make sure there is a song playing and go back into the service menu again as before: Turn the HOLD function on by sliding the switch at the top. Then, Hold the SEARCH/MENU button and enter the button sequence: Right, Right, Left, Left, Right, Left, Right, Left, Up, Down. Let go of the buttons, and put the HOLD switch back to its original position. The backlight will cut out and you'll be in the service menu with "POWER" displayed. As soon as you get to this point it won't go twice as loud as it did before. Press DOWN a few times to select OTHERS and press Right to get into the menu called "LCD NP". Keep pressing down until you get to SP SET (Sound Pressure Setting). Press Play/Pause to get into change the option. Then press SEARCH/MENU to select "ON" or "OFF" (obviously, OFF is to switch the restriction off). Then press play again to go back to the SP SET menu. Now hold STOP to get the player out of the service mode. When I switch it back on it was twice as loud and I had to reset the bass and treble back to zero because it was tooooo loud!! You do have to go back into the player's options to manually turn the backlight on, repeat and one song playback off after doing this. Hope this is of some help
on 29 May 2005
This player is, quite simply, the best i've come across. OK, it doesn't have as many options as the iPod and, as a previous iPod user, i find it a bit trickier to navigate. Minor gripes though. Style and performance wise it is unbeatable. And the software is fine. If you're used to iTunes / Windows Media Player, it'll take you a while to get used to it but, ultimately, it is as easy to use as either of these. The volume is a bit too quiet on the EU models though. There is a hack for the NW3 player in another customer review; i've adapted it slightly and it works for the HD5:
1. Be in playback mode (playing a tune)
2. Press stop.
3. Straight away, flick the 'hold' button on the top of the player.
4. Hold the Search/Menu button down and enter the following combination of buttons in quick succession:
RIGHT RIGHT LEFT LEFT RIGHT LEFT RIGHT LEFT UP DOWN
5. Stop pressing the Search / Menu button and flick off the 'hold' switch. The backlight will turn off and the display will say "POWER". This means you are in the service menu.
6. Press UP until you get to "OTHER".
7. Press RIGHT until you get to "G TEST".
8. Press UP until you get to "SP SET".
9. Press PLAY button. If the display says "OFF", you have a non-EU player and the limiter is not in place. If it says "ON", the volume is limited.
10. Press the Search/Mode button so that the display shows "OFF".
11. Press the PLAY button to store the new setting. Now the display should say "SP SET".
12) Hold down the Stop button until the unit performs a normal startup and displays the WALKMAN logo. Go to the normal options screen and switch the backlight back on.
Be careful with this; it does get noticeably louder (maybe too loud at top volume). Also, you can do all sorts of damage to the player in the service menu; make sure you don't mess with anything else or your lovely new player could be irreperably damaged!
on 21 June 2005
I've had mine for about 4 weeks. Most my music collection is already stored in mp3 format which the HD5 was able to import without any file conversion, thus it only took 40 minutes to import about 1000 tracks [6-7 Gigabytes mostly at 320KBps]. Importing is accomplished using Sonic Stage on your PC/Mac. I must admit I'm not a fan of this partiuclar piece of software and would much prefer to import my music via my favourite media player.
The menus to navigate through your music collection are very intuitive, although it can be a little tricky to home in on a particular track/album/artist when the list gets very long.
Build quality is good, except for this player's buttons! Mine has already developed cracks along the thin plastic connection points joining the four arrow buttons.
To summarize: Nice little player, intuitive navigation menu system. All Sony now needs to do is sort out the problem with the buttons, which is the players real Achilles heel.
on 13 June 2005
This piece of kit is so worth the money, i've had mine for nearly a month now and ive loved it since the day i got it!
Saw soneone review the battery, how they'd used it for only 3-4 hours and its close to dying, this may sound stupid but are u switching it off? My battery also went quick when i got my player until i realised i hadnt switched it off, i assumed once the backlight went off the player would switch off!!
I have removed the sound limit from the player as although it was loud ish it was lacking just that little bit more but it rocks now! Thanks to whoever posted the instructions on here!
Had minimal problems with sonicstage which was a concern of mine, however sometimes it wont import a cd, got some albums where its got to the last track and then stops, a box comes up and its a no go, rather frustrating as i cant seem to get round this!
However it is super! Made a recent plane journey so much more fun, no more picking out cds for my holiday! Had vertually my whole collection on the beach with me!
My sister has now bought one of these and people who mocked me at work for spending so much on mp3 also want one!! Im one very happy HD5 owner!
If you are in doubt, buy buy buy!!