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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.
45 people found this helpful
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VINE VOICEon 23 September 2008
Another Sony concept that failed to hit the mainstream
ATRAC was never adopted.
The thing is stable and works, but no sites support it and the sony software is bugged and hard to use.
hard to get subscription services that work with it
very limited sony tracks available

apple trounced their glutinous maximus (again)
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on 22 June 2005
I have to say this is one excellent player, sonic is a little slow to use but my problem was the buttons developed cracks and several other users have also complained of the same thing. Sent mine back for a refund untill Sony decide what the fix is, which is a shame as the sound quality is very very good on all types of music and its easy to use. The sound output is limited as EEC rules, but easy to do a software fix, and the battery life is long as the spec states, 30-40 hours.
4 people found this helpful
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on 1 June 2005
The HD5 is a fabulous player, it's absolutely tiny (9cm x 6cm) for a player of its capacity and is as good looking as the photos suggest. Sound quality is excellent, and I've had no problems with the volume, it is plenty loud enough for me. Using the software is easy (it helps to read the manual first) and I transfered my existing windows files easily enough. The only downside is that the quality of the headphones is pretty poor (you'd expect a decent pair for the money) and it could do with some kind of neck strap and/or a better case than the one that it comes supplied with. A minor quibble though in view of the quality of the player.
6 people found this helpful
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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...
89 people found this helpful
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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)
Sound quality
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.
36 people found this helpful
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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!!
4 people found this helpful
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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!!!!
8 people found this helpful
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on 6 November 2005
this little baby has travelled for 2 months through africa with me and has left the ipods of my fellow travellers for dead? The reason? Battery life. The best thing about this is the long battery life ( it really does get within spitting distance of 40 hours), and the fact that the battery is removable so you can carry a spare (cost about £25). That makes about 80 hours before you need to find a charge point. The ipods were needing it daily.
I'm not a fan of the ipod's click wheel so the buttons don't faze me. I did find the menu system a bit unwieldy compared to my little creative but I'm used to it now. I don't have any gripes about the sonicstage software, I've found it easy to navigate and I'm no computer genius.
The things that do annoy me are the fiddly cover for the charger and the battery cover- it took me about 5 minutes to work out how to get it off (but at least you get the mains charger with the unit rather than having to buy it separately).
And the cloth "cover" is a joke.
One last suggestion- upgrade the headphones. The ones it comes with are fine, nothing special, but I got some Fontopia ones on the suggestion of other reviewers- wow, the sound is amazing (although it's pretty weird if you try eating with them in)
2 people found this helpful
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on 27 July 2005
Just a short review, this is the first MPs I've ever had (apologies Amazon, I bought the limited 30GB version elsewhere...I did buy the leather case from you though!) and it's superb!!! The ipod never appealed to me, looks too plasticky, but this is fantastic, feels tough and heavy...without actually being heavy...I slip it in my shirt top pocket(or at least I did until I bought the case which doubles then weight almost!). The volume de-limiter over-ride mentioned once or twice in these reviews definately works, took me about 20 seconds and probably increased the volume by 25% or more.
I can't compare Sonys SonicStage sotware to any other but I found it simplicity itself to use, out of the 500 or so CD's I've uploaded there was only one ,very obscure one, that the details couldn't be located for.
I've uploaded all my CD's at 64kbps (which I think was the de-fault) and the sound is still superb. As others have said, it takes 4 - 5 minutes to load up CD on and then 7 - 10 seconds to transfer to the player.
I bought the Sony leather case through Amazon and I can't recommend it highly enough, it's even more stylish than the player and feels great and definately gives it lot's of protection...be sensible and buy one (I'm just doing my bit for Amazon now as penance for buying the player elsewhere!)
Well, not so short as I thought, hope some of you find it useful!
3 people found this helpful
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