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MP3 Players

Hands-on with the gorgeous new Sony Walkman NWZ-A820

After a long-winded wait, Sony's metallic new MP3 Walkman is here in our office. After having an extended play, we're pretty pleased with it, but the price may truly blow you away

It's here! The new Sony Walkman is here!

Everyone gets excited over new iPods, so we thought we'd show some over-enthusiasm for Sony's new metallic beast, the NWZ-A820, which comes in 4GB, 8GB and 16GB capacities, known respectively as the NWZ-A826, NWZ-A828 and the NWZ-A829. Prices start at £140 from later this month.

Since the last incarnation of the MP3 Walkman range, Sony has increased screen size to 61mm (2.4 inches), added stereo Bluetooth, changed the navigation button layout and improved the user interface. The result is a highly attractive player, with an intuitive icon-driven GUI inside a gorgeous metal enclosure. Really, we're very fond of this player and to top it off it sounds amazing, but we'll get to that shortly.

Specs-wise you're looking at up to 16GB of non-expandable flash memory, a crisp QVGA 320x240-pixel screen, support for MP3, WMA, AAC and WAV music, H.264 video and about 36 hours of audio playback. You're free to either drag and drop files into the memory through Windows Explorer or Mac OS X, or using Windows Media Player.

But also included in the box, aside from some decent bundled Sony earphones, is a pair of Bluetooth headphones, though the £230 16GB model does not include these(!). Sound quality from the headphones is muddy, lacking clarity and just plain uninspiring anyway.

The Walkman itself sounds exceptional, however, complete with Sony's trademark bass-heavy signature. The NWZ-A820 drives a powerful sound with excellent depth and warmth. Through our Denon AH-D5000 reference headphones, we found the tasty new Walkman an admirable performer -- just what you'd expect from such a costly package.

We've really enjoyed playing with this little chap -- watching video on the train to and from the office is just smashing on the crisp screen. Expect our full review very soon. In the mean time, click through for more up-close and personal photos than you can wave an iPod at. -Nate Lanxon

Update: All three Sony Walkman NWZ-A820 reviews are now live. Read our full Sony Walkman NWZ-A828 review; Sony Walkman NWZ-A826 review; Sony Walkman NWZ-A829 review.

Look at that shiny body, er, shine.

Next to the headphone socket sits a horrible proprietary USB socket. You know how Sony loves proprietary stuff.

Buttons only sit on the right-hand side; there's nothing on the left. You'll notice here a dedicated Bluetooth button for switching on the wireless functionality without having to browse through menus.

Here's the new Sony Walkman sat among some of our favourite audio devices. How many do you recognise?

Finally, here's the new model next to the old model. Notice the larger screen and the symmetrical button layout.