We recently got our hands on a Sony NWZ-A728 Walkman, and decided to write a short review on the pros and cons we ran into. We realize the players been out a while, and that the Walkman X is all the rage in Sony’s showrooms, but most people aren’t even aware of these great players existing so here we go.
I think I can stop referring to myself in plural terms now, since I have already dragged you in with false impressions of credibility.
So anyway, The 728 is the 8GB version in the series. This may seem paltry compared to most current players, but since my music collection is a mere 13 odd GBs, its more than enough for me. The A729 is the 16GB version.
In The Box
When opened you will find the player, a little stand thing you can use to keep the player upright, an adapter for using with a docking station and a pair of Sony EX082 premium headphones. These in-ear ‘phones themselves sell for around $50 on the market, and are a welcome step up from regular stock headphones. You will also find a pile of documentation and a CD with some software on it.
The thing is quite thin at just under a centimeter, and most of the device is covered in black metal. I think it is available in other colours as well. It feels pretty solid (58g), except for the buttons on the side, which feel slightly less solid than on their previous players. Not to say they feel cheap, but they do give just a bit to the touch. The actual feeling of it is pretty good, as the matte black finish feels quite good to the hand.
The front has a nice 2.4” screen (320×240) with a familiar 5-way navigation pad just below. The pad is flanked by two soft keys.
Sony has always taken a very Spartan approach to functionality in their line of players (This is excluding the Walkman X). They’ve had this same interface since the S610 series players, and you can find the same in the A828 (Same as the 728 except with Bluetooth).
It plays the MP3, WMA, PCM and AAC formats. For video it supports MP4 video, nothing spectacular there.
This interface, while extremely quick and responsive, looks quite drab. A black background with white text makes for great readability but when you go past the home screen with its glowing icons, it all looks a bit plain. The menu system supports displaying album art in various ways to add a bit of colour to the menus. The Now Playing screen has standard information such as artist and album. It also has a smaller than average album art image. A useful bit of functionality is the ability to press the down key to access each attribute like Artist, Genre, Year or Album and select them, and being able to play all songs on the device matching the selected criteria straight from the Now Playing screen.
Fast forward and rewind are good, offering two speeds, slower when the track is playing and moving at a much faster pace when paused.
Battery life is impressive at 36 hours rated for music and 10 hours on video. The display is bright enough to be viewed clearly while outdoors.
Getting music onto the player is quite easy as it is detected as a portable device on Windows Media Player and most other software that supports MTP devices. Alternatively, you can just drag and drop files onto it as well. For video, transferring files is a pain as you have to have them in the proper format. But the good news is that the same format that you use for iPod MP4 files will work on this, so there’s plenty of software out there.
Audio quality has always been pretty damn good on Sony players. This player sounds even better than its predecessors, and is noticeably much better than most other portable audio players on the market. The supplied in ear set sound great with this player, and are far superior to most stock headphones you get with other players. For most people, they negate the need for buying separate earphones with your device.
Even philistines who use standard stock headphones with their standard sounding players *cough*most iPod users*cough* will appreciate the massive increase in quality, before picking up their old earphones and burning them in a large fire.
The supplied EQ has a bunch of presets and two custom settings, which you can use to fine tune your listening. It works very well when pumping up the bass.
For videos, the screen is quite good, but not as good as on the older S610 series. This has a black level that is slightly too bright. Other than that, the colours are vivid, video is super smooth at 30FPS and the resolution is decent for this size. You can’t really watch any movies on it since its only 2.4 inches, but it should be fine for short clips such as TV Series’.
The thing sounds great, but it has a few minor annoyances like dropping the FM radio found on the older players and not having a separate section for audiobooks/podcasts. Music management offers only basic controls such as sorting by artist, genre and album etc. but you still can’t create playlists on the fly. You can import playlists when synching but I’d rather have been able to make them on my own.
If you want your music to sound great there really isn’t much competition to the new set of Walkmans. If you can set aside the slightly dated interface, and need a player solely for music, this is the best thing you can get. As for video, it’s more of an afterthought on this player, due to the limited format support.
Pros: Awesome sound quality, snappy interface, sturdy, good looking build, good battery life.
Cons: Bland interface, no FM radio, other minor niggles.