Top positive review
45 people found this helpful
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.