What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Mon, 7 Nov 2011, 1:31pm

Sony NWZ-A866

Tested at £220
80100
4

Like the original, it’s great for music on the move… but it can be beaten for value

Write your own review

For

  • Small and light
  • nice build quality
  • fast, intuitive interface
  • sounds great

Against

  • Low on frills – and storage – which makes it look expensive

While smartphones and portables now squeeze in internet browsing, games, apps and the rest, this new Sony Walkman NWZ-A866 keeps things relatively simple.

There’s no internet connectivity, or apps, but there is still music, picture and video playback, an FM radio, Bluetooth support and a voice recorder. You can even let
the Walkman sort your tunes by “mood”, should you like the sound of that.

AAC, MP3 and WAV audio files are supported on this 32GB player but FLAC and Ogg aren’t. Likewise, H.264, MPEG4 and WMV video files are fine, but there’s no such luck for DivX and MKV.

Decent video, but great sound
There’s a 2.8in-touchscreen alongside a solitary home button on the front of the unit, while playback controls sit on the side. The menus are familiar enough and move quickly, making for an intuitive experience – even if some of the icons are a little small.

Videos look decent thanks to natural colours and good detail, and only a touch of softness and occasional instability caused us any problems. The screen does seem a little small for extended viewing, though.

Extended listening is much more enjoyable. WAV files of SBTRKT and James Blake sound spacious and detailed: voices are clear, bass is punchy, and there’s a pleasant warmth to the sound.

The best deliver a smidgeon more dynamically but it’s the tiniest increment. We like this Walkman. If you want a light player that sounds good, give it a whirl. But other players offer more, so four stars it is.

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