The Sony NWZ-A720 is a solid player with plenty to brag about, but the exclusion of features such as an FM radio, voice recording, and memory expansion is worth keeping in mind as you compare the Walkman with its competition. You should also know that Sony offers an identical-looking version of this player (the Sony NWZ-A820 series) which includes built-in Bluetooth audio streaming, at an increased price.
Year after year, Sony's MP3 players demonstrate some of the highest standards for audio quality. Even at its factory setting, the Sony NWZ-A720 radiates with fidelity that just gets better as each one of its many sound-enhancement features activate. Listening through the excellent pair of included Sony EX in-ear headphones, the rattling saxophones of Moondog's "Dog Trot" were vibrant and easy to pick out in the stereo soundstage. Renowned for its buttery bass performance, the Clear Bass enhancement EQ feature perfectly sweetened the rolling dub synth notes of Squarepusher's "Port Rhombus" with no noticeable distortion.
Videos appeared bright, crisp, and colorful on the Sony NWZ-A720. The Walkman's screen is 0.4 inch larger than the screen found on the third-generation iPod Nano, and it shares a similarly impressive pixel density and sharp picture quality. Videos can be rotated between landscape and portrait view on the Sony NWZ-A720, and audio and video files are automatically bookmarked when the player is stopped or shut down.
Sony rates the NWZ-A720's battery life at an impressive 36 hours of audio playback and 10 hours of video. We'll update this review with our CNET Labs battery results once testing is complete.
The Sony NWZ-A720 Walkman is an unquestionably great series of MP3 players, however, as a competitor to the iPod Nano it faces steep competition. Creative's Zen MP3 player, for instance, offers a larger screen, an FM radio, voice recording, and memory expansion, while Microsoft's Zune boasts coveted features such as integrated podcast management and built-in Wi-Fi. Sony is clearly king of the hill when it comes to sound quality, but users seeking a more well-rounded MP3 player have plenty to choose from.