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Sony NWZ-A866 review

Great for music on the move… but can be beaten for value Tested at £220

Our Verdict

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

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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What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, New York and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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