Product Type: Sony MP3 players
Newest Review: ... still uncertain as to whether i should actually get one as i had no complaints with my current. But then my current mp3 player failed and ... more
Breaking my eardrums to bring you a review
Sony Walkman NWZ-A729 16 GB
Member Name: eilidhcatriona
Sony Walkman NWZ-A729 16 GB
Advantages: Easy to use, lightweight, excellent playback
Disadvantages: Surface is a little slippery and easy to drop
I had been vaguely considering buying a new MP3 player as although mine worked perfectly, it was large and heavy, one of the early 20GB Creative ones. So when I saw this Sony on the Argos Clearance shop on Ebay for £69.99, I decided to go for it. My main requirement in an MP3 player is the storage size. Although one which store less music are smaller and cheaper, I don't want to have to change the music on it all the time - I want my whole collection on it so that should the mood take me I can listen to something I haven't listened to in years. I had been using just over half of the 20GB of my Creative player, so I knew that the 16GB of the Sony would be sufficient for my needs.
I was very surprised at the size and weight of the MP3 player when it arrived. Yet again I hadn't really paid much attention to the dimensions of something I ordered online, except to ascertain it was smaller than my Creative. The Sony NWZ-A729 is approximately 7cm long by 4cm wide, and less than 1cm deep. But what really amazed me was the weight - it weighs next to nothing! Compared to the bulk of my Creative, this was a revelation to me. An MP3 player doesn't have to make a noticeable difference to the weight of my bag! The MP3 player is black, with a matt yet slick metallic feel to it. One thing I noticed immediately was that this wouldn't be as secure in my clumsy hands as my old one - it is very slippery and easy to drop. The front of the player has two small menu navigation buttons (back/home and option/power off), a play/pause button, and 4 arrow buttons in order to move around the menus. On one side there is the volume control and a "hold" button for locking the buttons.
This may be something which is common to newer MP3 players, but I was surprised to find that the Sony NWZ-A729 doesn't come with a charger to plug into a wall socket, but only a USB cable so it is charged from a computer. I preferred the convenience of being able to charge my MP3 player whether my computer was on or not, but this isn't a huge complaint. Navigating the menus of the MP3 player is very easy. The main screen has 9 icons for the various options, and selecting one of these takes you into the more detailed menus. I continued with my usual bad habit and ploughed straight in having barely glanced at the instruction manual, and I found my way around very easily. I've never felt the need to consult the manual about the menu functions since, so it really is very easy to find your way around.
The functions on offer seem fairly standard to me. There are different play modes - Normal (with/without Repeat), Shuffle (with/without Repeat) and Repeat. You can set the date and time on the player, which I find handy as when you have the player on but on hold, the screen fades out but occasionally flashes up with the date and time as a screensaver.
Finding music on the player is very easy. There is a search option in the main menu, where you can search for an artist, album or track by the first letter, or you can go into the Music Library and choose from all tracks, album, artist, genre or release year, and then the choices in that category are listed alphabetically, in groups like A-D etc.
Loading music onto the Sony NWZ-A729 is also very easy. Unlike my previous Creative Zen, this doesn't use specific software, just Windows Media Player (version 10 or 11). The player comes with a CD with this software on if you don't already have it. You connect the player to your computer using the USB cable provided, and then the computer will recognise it and it will appear in Media Player. You then use the Sync option in Media Player to transfer music on, which is done very quickly.
Incidentally, you can store pictures and videos on this as well, and these are transferred onto the player through the same way as music. I've only tried it a couple of times just to test it, as it's not something I feel the need to use my MP3 player for, but it is easy to do and there are sections in the main menu for viewing the galleries of photos and videos.
The battery life is good. I find I need to charge it regularly - I don't know how many hours playback I get from it, but I use it on the journey to and from work every day, which in total is close to two hours, and I don't charge it more than once every two weeks. I do however tend to forget to charge it and then it dies at the start of a song I really want to listen to...
Now for the reason we buy MP3 players - to listen to music. Firstly, the player comes with a set of Sony bud-style earphones. I've always preferred Sony earphones, but have never tried bud ones as I thought they looked uncomfortable. Well, I'm now never going back - I love these earphones. They are comfortable and good quality, but more than that you have to have the volume up over 20 (it goes to 30) in order for there to be any noise leakage, which is very important to me. I love to listen to music at full volume, but one of my pet hates is hearing other peoples music leaking through their rubbish iPod earphones on the tube, so I like to make sure I'm never guilty of the same thing - I wait until I'm out in the street before turning the volume up. With these earphones however, I can listen to music at a reasonable volume without annoying everyone around me.
The playback quality is superb. Perhaps it is not the best in the world, but to me it is excellent and it is more than adequate for what I need. There is no distortion at full volume, and every note is crystal clear. I listen to a wide variety of music, and all styles work equally well on the Sony NWZ-A729.
I carried out a little test prior to writing this review, and chose 3 very different tracks to compare the playback of them:
Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23: this is an alternately delicate and lively work, and all comes through very well on the player. I turned it up so as to be sure to get every note from the quieter sections, and it all came through very well, and the louder volume did not detract from the quality once the piece livened up again.
Runrig's News From Heaven: I chose this for a very particular reason. The very first few notes of the track are very quiet and subtle, and despite being a Runrig fan all my life, I had never heard these notes until I played the album for the first time on a CD walkman - cassette players just didn't pick this subtlety up. Played on the NWZ-A729 at a moderate volume (10), these notes come through very clearly and delicately, just as they should.
Pink Floyd's One Of These Days: again, I chose this for a particular reason. If you know this track, you know that it is all about the double tracked bass guitars, which at high volumes can distort badly and end up sounding rather rattly. So with careless disregard for the health of my ears, I cranked the volume up to 30 and pressed play (I should add this was in my living room and not with the background noise of the tube or street to detract from the volume in my eardrums). Fortunately One Of These Days does start off quieter, so the loud parts weren't quite such a shock as it built up to it. Once it got going, the double tracked basses remained perfect and crystal clear - this really is how this song should be listened to. I'm amazed that a track which distorts on my stereo at home when it gets anywhere near top volume is played perfectly by this little device.
All in all, I'm delighted with my spur of the moment purchase, and I can't see myself replacing this for a long time. It has enough space for my large music collection, it is small and lightweight, it has nice menus and it plays at excellent quality. What more could I possibly ask for from an MP3 player?
Summary: A great little mp3 player which goes everywhere with me
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