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Sony Walkman NWZ-A726
Sony products have always been objects of wonder for us, and we follow the company’s development pretty closely. For a company that's kept away from unnecessary hype (read: Apple and the bumchums), it does come out with enough products to keep the brand in the limelight. More than that, it’s the quality that comes across.
Sony was the company that created the whole Walkman phenomenon in the early 80s. While the company may have had its share of flops, the NWZ-A726 isn’t one of them. Perhaps the main thing that goes wrong is the price. Still, it does what it's meant to quite efficiently.
Featuring a sleek design and a large 2.4 QVGA LCD sporting 240 x 320 pixels, it’s got a shiny glass finish on the front. The back is more plasticky, but doesn’t look too bad. The 3.5mm jack is at the bottom along with the proprietary (shucks!) USB slot.
I like the five-way navigation pad, which didn't give any trouble at all. I also like the fact that Sony has refrained from having too many buttons. You will have to work with the Back key and the Option key, which can also be used to power the player off. The hold slider is on the right, along with the volume keys.
To begin with, the NWZ-A726 takes the shortest time (as tested by Tech2.0) to start up — a scant fraction of a second. At first I felt as if I was unable to successfully power the device off. The truth, however, is that as soon as you push the hold slider, the player has switched on! Not only that, it resumes playback from the point where you left off, whether it's music or video.
The menus are pretty lively and clean, which means there’s little chance you'll get lost. Music formats include MP3, AAC, WMA and L-PCM. It’s all drag-and-drop. The music player is simple and comes with a 5-band EQ, with presets.
For effect junkies there are the surround modes — Studio, Live, Club, Arena, Matrix and Karaoke. The speed makes experimenting with effects a lot of fun. Let’s just say: if you're able and willing, you should find the right settings within a minute of playing a track.
The video player supports only AVC (H.264/AVC), AAC-LC, and MPEG-4. In most cases you'll need to run your videos through the conversion software before you transfer. The performance is good though; it supports 30 FPS. There were no visible framing problems, and certainly no clipping issues.
For a change, the bundled earphones are pretty neat. They offer an effective in-ear design that brings the frequencies that much closer to your eardrums. The sound is balanced, although the bass might gets murkier as the frequency drops. On a flat band, the mids have a tendency of shying away, but it's nothing you can't fix after setting it right on the EQ.
The player comes with 4GB capacity and costs Rs 8990. But the street price is likely to be negotiable, depending on where you buy it from. Considering the new iPod nano costs Rs 9700 (for 8GB) and offers a host of cool functionalities to boot, you might want to reconsider what you want to buy. So first assess your needs accurately.
The iPod doesn’t have an in-ear set of earphones, and comes with absolutely no drag-and-drop options. The Sony has both of these, but no Coverflow. A higher capacity may be a good deciding factor, but I have used the new nano, and it’s nowhere closer to being as fast as the Sony player. Also, while the Nano has a 2-inch big screen, the Sony is equipped with a 2.4-inch job. So now you should hopefully be able to make up your mind...