The Sony NW-A805 is an inexpensive, stylish and intuitive portable media player. Sony's NW-A805 Walkman could make Sony MP3 players as big a success as Sony's Walkman phones.

Sony's first foray into the video MP3 market is largely a success. The Walkman-branded range of 2GB to 8GB players are attractive, well built and extremely slim without trying to ape Apple's video iPods in the least.

Compared with the pebble-shaped MP3 players Sony came out with about 18 months ago, the Sony NW-A805 is a ballerina rather than an opera singer. We were particularly enamoured of the Sony NW-A805's screen which, although small, has incredible definition. We were even able to follow the tiny subtitles accompanying a TV documentary.

Being Sony, of course, you're forced to use its Sony Connect software to load up and manage the Sony NW-A805's music, photo and video libraries. As with iTunes, this means it's far easier to download and import items from its online Connect store. To its credit, the Sony NW-A805 Walkman doesn't assume you want its Sonic Stage software to be the default player for music and video, letting you choose any you specifically want to associate with it.

You can auto-sync or drag-and-drop items on to the Sony NW-A805's transfer menu. The process is efficient enough, although the offer to go online and retrieve missing media information is a bit of a drag – switch this off at the first opportunity.

If you've got a bulging Windows Media Player library, open your Music folder and drop items on to the Sony Sonic Stage library for faster import to the Sony NW-A805. The software is less tolerant of non-standard characters than others we've used, though.

Playback options include sorting by artist's initial, genre or star rating, and there's both a regular shuffle option and a 'time machine' that randomly selects a year and plays songs from it. We liked this, until we realised that it hit on a year and then served up album by album rather than truly mixing things up.

You get some extremely stylish in-ear earphones that deliver excellent audio with the Sony NW-A805. The batteries seem to last and last, even though we played an hour or more of video.

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Sony NW-A805: Specs

  • 2GB capacity
  • 2in QVGA (240x320) colour screen
  • MP3
  • WMA, WAV
  • Atrac3plus music player
  • displays Jpeg photos
  • up to 30 hour music playback
  • eight-hours video playback
  • EX earphones
  • 44x88x9mm
  • 53g
  • 2GB capacity
  • 2in QVGA (240x320) colour screen
  • MP3
  • WMA, WAV
  • Atrac3plus music player
  • displays Jpeg photos
  • up to 30 hour music playback
  • eight-hours video playback
  • EX earphones
  • 44x88x9mm
  • 53g

OUR VERDICT

Video playback, audio quality and the Sony NW-A805's design are all absolutely superb. The management software and playback options are good but not fantastic. Sony shook up the music player market with its excellent Walkman-branded mobile phones, and we can see it repeating that success with its beautiful video players.

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