There's no doubt that the death of SonicStage will allow Sony's Walkmans to move a significant step up in the MP3 player market share competition. The company's new devices support AAC and protected WMA, offer excellent battery life, and sound fantastic. The latest Walkman to cross the review desk is the NWZ-A810, a video-friendly flash player available in 2GB (AU$229), 4GB (AU$269), and 8GB (AU$369) flavours. We're pretty impressed with this model, and we think you will be too.
The Sony NWZ-A810 is a pretty slick player. It has a high-quality, metallic build with the main body decked out in the brushed colour of your choosing -- black, pink, white, or silver. A chrome-like strip surrounds the edge of the device, and accenting of the same style surrounds the buttons and makes up the logos on the front.
The overall look is more elegant than flashy, so it may not turn heads, but users with an appreciation for understatement will like the style. Actually, 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. The main menu screen is well-organised, with icons that highlight and magnify as you scroll through them, and the playback screen displays album art and a wealth of information. You can even set a screensaver to display the time and date while you're not actively using the player.
Luckily, Sony has learned its lesson about emphasising form over function and the NWZ-A810 is as easy to use as it is pleasant to look at. Of course, getting rid of SonicStage was a major help, as you can now use all the new Walkmans with WMA jukeboxes such as Windows Media Player (WMP).