Fortunately, these inadequacies are overshadowed by the A828's amazing sound quality. It really is one of the best-sounding players we've ever heard. It's on par with offerings from Creative and Cowon and Sony's signature bass-heaviness is immediately apparent through our Denon AH-D5000 reference headphones.
A deep, warm tone underneath Ingrid Michaelson's beautiful song Masochist was our first clue that we were dealing with a sonically impressive player, and the clarity and power with which the rest of the song was delivered sealed the deal. The same can be said for Linkin Park's unusually mellow and U2-esque track Shadow Of The Day. It was full of detail and depth -- just what we were hoping from Sony's expensive Walkman.
The same cannot be said for video. While the player is full of potential -- thanks to the great screen and H.264 support -- it was almost impossible to get video on to the player as a result of the strict properties it requires for video files. We were very confused, and it took hours of trial and error with four different software packages. We finally succeeded and the results were terrific. Video is crisp, smooth and easily comparable to the iPod nano -- but you'll work much harder than necessary to get it.
Finally, battery life is rated at 36 hours for audio and 10 hours of video. Check back soon for our update about whether we achieved these figures in our tests.
Sony's NWZ-A828 is a terrific player and easily one of our favourites of the year so far. It blew us away with its stellar audio performance and screen quality, and it's beautifully designed and easy to use as well. It's unfortunate that its awkward video support was a major turn-off.
We'd say that Apple's iPod nano is marginally easier to use and offers simpler video functionality. It's more affordable, too. Also consider Creative's Zen if you still want more memory for less money, and iRiver's Clix 2 offers a few extra features over the Sony. All of these are at the expense of the Bluetooth capability, though.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday