The latest Walkman to cross the review desk is the NWZ-A810, a video-friendly flash player available in 2GB ($119.95), 4GB ($149.95), and 8GB ($199.95) flavors. This device is pretty slick. It has a high-quality, metallic build with the main body decked out in the brushed color of your choosing--black, pink, white, or silver.
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A chromelike strip surrounds the edge of the device, and accenting of the same style surrounds the buttons and makes up the logos on the front. A dedicated volume rocker--always a nice touch--sits on the right edge of the player.
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The overall look is more elegant than flashy. One thing we're not too keen on is the placement of the hold switch on the back of the player. It's not very ergonomic or easy to get to.
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Sony's choice to get rid of SonicStage is a major boon, as you can now use all the new Walkmans with WMA jukeboxes, such as Windows Media Player (WMP) and Rhapsody. Now if only the company would get rid of the proprietary dock connection for mini USB.
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The most eye-catching feature is the excellent, 2-inch QVGA display (320x240)--it's bright and crisp and can be used in landscape orientation for viewing photos and videos. Photos and videos look very good on the bright color screen, with nice detail and excellent color saturation.
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Somewhat surprisingly, this Sony Walkman doesn't have some key features we expect at this price point. Namely, there's no FM tuner or voice recorder--no memory expansion, either.
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Sony has learned its lesson about emphasizing form over function and the NWZ-A810 is as easy to use as it is pleasant to look at. The main menu screen is well-organized, with icons that highlight and magnify as you scroll through them, and the playback screen displays album art and a wealth of information.
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Still, the NWZ-A810 has several desirable extras, not the least of which is a pair of MDR-EX082 headphones in the package, making this one of the few players that sounds great right out of the box. Just put it in your pocket and go!
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