I would call this Sony's techno-glamour. I had a close look at its predecessor HD1, beautiful, sleek but something was missing. That something has exactly been taken care of in Sony Network Walkman NW-HD3, but there are still some glaring and annoying flaws in this glamour product from Sony but chances are Apple iPod is in for a real push to exist at the top of consumer's mind and Sony Network Walkman NW-HD3 is taking the walkman culture to the 21st centaury and rightly so.
On the face of it there is hardly any difference with the HD1 but just spend some time with it, quite few striking and key difference will be immediately noticeable. Like HD-1 it froths technological brilliance and arrogance which has become synonymous with Sony products. You can't but admire its beauty, sleekness and functional achievements. Sony Network Walkman NW-HD3 is even smaller and less heavy than the Apple iPod 20 GB which is some achievement for a typical hard drive player. It's simplicity and style is something to be grudgingly admired. (The player is meant to be used in Landscape orientation).
One of greatest achievement is its support to native MP3 playback (Sony's MP3 digital audio player category started with S23 way back in 2004). Talking about iPod, it is machine with fabulous features with PIM, impressive third party app support, calendar but interestingly the HD3 is hardly a player stuffed with impressive features. It doesn't have a clock even.
Let just have a description of HD3, in design it is very similar to the HD1 except the addition of scintillating color schemes and some terrific backlight hues. The main upgrades are encasing in very tough plastic. The primary play and menu control has a wee bit larger five way directional pad made of plastic with 1.5in LCD display, very simple.
But one annoying aspect is the requirement of the Sony's own SonicStage 2.3 for using Musicmatch, Windows media player or any jukebox software for that matter. It has a very subtle and smart headphone jack, the wired remote not being included, dedicated volume control and small but smart Menu and Mode buttons. The hold control, a battery on/off switch (very useful) and propriety cradle connector port is at the bottom. The hold strap options is there but not included.
It has got a slightly strange and rather unusual but effective track selection method the mode button cracks your music files in categories like Artist, album etc. Select a particular artist all his songs will be played and the best part is right-click, you will be guide to all its album. It has got a user defined bookmarks and in fact can have 100 bookmarks.
The file formate support has been taken care of quite successfully more or less. It supports native MP3, WMA, ATRAC3, ATRAC3plus. The big plus is HD3's excellent and power packed audio quality while playing ATRAC3 and MP3 formats. Virtual surround and EQ settings works with least fuss and in fact top class.
The LCD lovely settings. At default settings even, looks great, gray back ground with dark text which can be changed. Performs excellently both indoors and outdoors. Essential informations like track, album, artist, genre and time elapsed are displayed by the player interface complete with individual icons. Besides HD1's proprietary port it has a very handy adapter clinging to it and includes power, USB as well. helping those on the go and light.
Navigating the Sony Network Walkman NW-HD3 is smooth moving one from the other although HD1 bug persists with 2-4 seconds delay.
A big USP of Sony Network Walkman is it excellent battery life of 30 hours but I could not achieve more than 22 and a half to 23 hours, even that is excellent. The transfer time is a excellent 8.2 MBps over USB 2.0.
A quick look at the technical specifications:
PC interface(s) supported USB
Flash memory installed No built-in memory
Digital storage Built-in 20 GB 1.8" Hard disk drive
Weight 4.6 oz
Dimensions (W x D x H) 3.5 in x 0.6 in x 2.4 in
Available body colors Black , Silver , Pink , Red
Included accessories Carrying pouch
Software type Sony SonicStage
Case type Pouch
Digital Player / Recorder
Supported digital audio standards MP3, WMA, ATRAC3, ATRAC3plus
Edit functions Erase
Supported bit rate 48 - 256 KBps
External hard drive function Yes
Audio system built-in display LCD
Diagonal size 1.5 in
Additional features Hold button, Volume limiter
Headphones type Binaural Ear-bud
Slot(s) provided No
Battery / Power
Battery Lithium ion Rechargeable Player battery
Mfr estimated battery life 30 hour(s)
Power device type Power adapter
The 20 GB storage is great, swallows 4000 songs nice and cool. The USB 2 is very fast. But the earbuds supplied are bad a good headphone is a must to get the best out of it. But it must be said it is not as intuitive as the iPod and neither as instinctive. Creative Zen and iPod are more simple to use out of the box. As usual with Sony audios the sound quality is exclusive, SonicStage will have no problems converting WAV and unprotected WMA formats ATRAC3.
The playlist manipulation should give a food for thought to the guys up there sittings at Sony's R&D, besides listing problems songs tend to jump on the other a fraction of a second and continue playing- a source of annoyance.
At $300 it's premium level stuff but instep of the fact that it makes the wallet thin, still worth it.
Note of Caution: SonicStage is a very versatile software but please don't make upgradations just like that, it might give you campatibility chaos with existing music files except MP3s.
P.S. My point of annoyance is the ''issue of using'' SonicStage but no complains about the softaware, it's perfect.
First published at ciao.co.uk
I originally bought this mp3 player in preference to an iPod because of the reasonable price given that it has a 20GB hard drive and the fact that you are supposed to be able to drop it from 1m without damaging it. This was of particular interest to me because I was planning on using the mp3 player whilst snowboarding and wanted it to be able to withstand small impacts if necessary.
It has definitely lived up to its claim of being durable as I have been using it for 4 years now and it is still working as well as when I first bought it. Having a 20GB hard drive allowed me to transfer all of my music onto it which was very useful when I spent a year travelling around the world.
The sound quality is good and it is relatively easy to use but the biggest problem with it is the really terrible Sonicstage software you have to use to transfer music to and from the player. I originally had version 2.3 of the software but updated the software on my current laptop to versions 3.4 and then 4.3 a few months ago. When I plugged my mp3 player in and tried to use the updated Sonicstage software I ended up with a message telling me I could not transfer my music back to my laptop and that I would have to reformat my mp3 player before being able to add any new music! This would mean losing all my music on the player and not being able to recover some of it because I had used a few different computers in the past to transfer music across! I had also converted some of my music from CDs to Sony's ATRAC format which is supposed to result in better compression but there seems to be no easy way of converting the files from ATRAC to mp3 or other formats to play elsewhere which is very frustrating.
The other problem with the software is that it is not easy to set up playlists. This is a pretty standard feature on iPods so it is disappointing that this is so difficult to achieve on this player. Another thing that is less important but also annoying is the fact that there is no direct USB connection possible. In order to connect to a computer you also have to plug the mp3 player into a mains socket.
I am still currently using this mp3 player but as I have to choose between either formatting the player and losing some of my music or not being able to add music to it, I will be looking at buying a new mp3 player and definitely a different brand, probably an iPod Nano due to the really small size.
It may be possible to buy this player cheaply now but the software really is so bad that I have to recommend not buying it.
This was the first mp3 player that I owned and I listened to it almost constantly until it died. The sound quality is superb and more than adequate for the majority of the population's hearing. The controls are straightforward and easy to get used to and there are not too many buttons (as on some mp3 players) to make it confusing.
The 20Gb storage capacity is enough for most of most people's music collections and definitely enough to carry the music that you listen too most frequently. If you do want to change it it does not take too long either, provided that your music is in the correct format.
This brings me on to the main flaw of the HD3. The software package that comes with it. It is awful. I don't know how a company like Sony who make such stunning hardware can be so incapable of writing software. It is awkward to use and the few features that it does have are too hard to find. The ATRAC format does what it says on the tin - reproduce the same sound quality at a fraction of the size - but means that you have to use sonicstage to listen to it. It plays mp3 but not wma which would be useful.
The battery life is good enough to last commuting to and from work/school for a week between charges.
The build quality is stunning. Mine was bounced countless times without even interfering with the playback. It did eventually die though. I have no idea what caused it but the screen lit up but no more. It wasn't recognised by the PC either.
Overall, a great player that was let down by the software and inability to play wma.
I bought this MP3 player about two years ago from Amazon Marketplace for about £70 and still absolutely love it, I bought an Apple Ipod classic a few months ago but sold it and went back to the Sony. It has everything you need in an mp3 player - ease of use, huge storage capactiy and good looks. It comes with SonicStage software which is really simple to use. The sound quality is great but you can end up listening too loud due to the volume not being limited. I prefer this to the Ipod as I find it much easier to use, this mp3 player has never crashed on me - unlike the Ipod, I never have to worry about using it in public and getting mugged as it doesn't have the 'rob me' headphones which make the Ipod so obvious and it doesn't get scratched as easily as there are no reflective surfaces. I know they are hard to get hold of but there are still some floating about on Amazon and i'd recommend you get your hands on one - quickly!
This was my first major MP3 player. I love it to bits. I've got an extensive CD's collection and its pretty much all gone on to this walkmans 20GB hard drive. The menus and the way that the music is stored is very simple to use. The only downside is that its now unavailable to buy and that all of the newer models that Sony have brought out since have never had the same capacity - i think that the most you can buy is about 16GB which means once this walkman has past its sell by date I might have to move over to the IPOD to ensure that I can still have as many tracks on my MP3 player. I would recommend this walkman if you can get your hands on it. The sound quality is impressive and the size of the item is very handy! Wish they still made it or had an another one of the same capacity size
This mp3 player is the first hard disk bassed one i bought. I was looking for a long battery life, good sound quality, nice looks, and a large amount of storage space. It has a 20GB hard disk within it, which once fromatted and prepared for storing your music is actually 18.9GB for some reason.
It has a very sleek look to it, with a shiny silver and black finish. Navigating the menu is easy enough but could have been made easier still. One handy function is a hold button which can be used to prevent accidentally skipping a song.
It come with a usb cable which is usb 2.0 and therefore usb 1.1 compatible which can be used to transfer songs onto the player and also to recharge the lithium ion battery within.
Sound quality is good even with the supplied headphones which can sometimes be a weak point in buying an mp3 player.
All in all this is a really good unit, well worth the asking price.
This is a brilliant piece of kit - 20gb that is more memory than a lot of the computers knocking around today have!!!
The menu is extreamly easy to navigate, the controls are simple and straight forward, sound quality is great, you could not really want much more from an MP3 player.
The software that comes with this MP3 player is a little dodgy when using it on a slower machine, I had a pretty good machine at work (good enough to handle large files & graphics) and I could only use this software with all other applications closed (I couldn't even run it with my email open!)...If you have a run of the mill machine, I think that you will probably experience problems trying to rip lots of music in one go...either that or you will get really annoyed and throw your PC out the window!
Other thank the software issue I would say this is a brilliant MP3 player and I would definately recommend it to anyone....it is small and sleek, not too heavy and looks lovely!! The downside is that the software burns all the music in an ATrac format so you can't share with your mate who has say an i-pod or non-sony player.
The other downside is that if you loose the charger it will cost you anything up to 80squids to get a new one, and if you loose the adaptor (basically there is an adaptor for the USB & charger to go into) then you are looking at another 80squids....I lost my adaptor and charger and was told by Sony that I was better off flogging it on ebay to someone who already had one of these (valentines day - ideal for sickly his and hers matching mp3 players), taking the proceeds and putting it towards a new player!