iPod vs Sony, Round 1

Looks like Sony’s offering up an iPod challenger, the NW-HD1 Network Walkman Digital Music Player. A sneak peak can be seen here.

The NW-HD1, (they really need a far sexier name), is smaller and lighter than the iPod, and a bit bigger than the iPod Mini and holds 20G worth of music. As for battery life, it boasts a 30 hour rechargeable battery. Price? Looks to be about AU$800 with an August-ish release.

Will I be cashing in my beloved 30 Gigger (iPod) for one of these? No.

Will it offer some healthy competiton for Apple? Yes.

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  1. sbszine

    5 July 2004 at 3.19 pm

    I don’t think it will compete much with the iPod as it doesn’t play mp3s. What genius decided that, eh?


  2. Engin

    26 November 2004 at 3.21 am

    I bought mine NW-HD1 a few days ago and its absolutely gorgeous…Whats wrong with converting the song to Atrac Format..Sound quality is perfect.it fits in your pocket.The only disadvantage about that device is that the price..


  3. Bruiser

    3 December 2004 at 11.27 pm

    Re the question posed by sbszine:
    A: The same genius who decided to develop a new music format offering various levels of compression/quality while at the same time requiring less energy consumption. Oh, and by the way, it recognises CDs, mp3, etc, and converts them all to this new format (ATRAC).


  4. sbszine

    6 December 2004 at 11.19 am

    mp3 and ATRAC are both lossy formats. So if you convert from one to the other, you will lose sound quality. Anyway, in order to handle the conversion, the device has to have an mp3 decoder. So why not just play the mp3 with that? As for less energy consumption, this seems unlikely as ATRAC compresses at 1:5 vs mp3 at 1:10 (i.e. there’s twice as much information to decode, so the hardware does more work, presumably using more power). Oh, and if you want to get the audio benefit of the compression difference, the files will be twice the size of mp3s. Not that the sound quality will be perceptibly different through your teeny earbuds.


  5. Red Wolf

    6 December 2004 at 2.04 pm

    The NW-HD1 did not offer MP3 support, that didn’t appear until the NW-HD3 was released. Sony has said that it will offer firmware upgrades to owners of the NW-HD-1 and NW-HD2 to enable MP3 recognition, for a fee, of course


  6. Marathon Man

    9 December 2004 at 12.54 am

    A friend of mine recently bought the Sony.
    Great in theory, but!
    Build quality dodgy, on/off switch has broken already.
    30 hours of battery, very unlikely, more like 10 max.
    We also question the shock system, it kept giving HD errors every 20 minutes when running with it.. Is the Ipod any better. Sony has been sent back!


  7. nadie

    27 April 2005 at 7.01 am

    Man, bought both. NW-HD1 vs IPod 20gb.
    battery life: on the sony i actually got close to the advertized battery life. 24 full hours and still one bar left on the battery meter. If you look through your library, or fiddle with it a bit the battery life goes down considerably (8-10 hrs)
    sound quality:
    being an audiophile, but very thrifty, I bought a sony silicone earplug style headphones and got a great sound with the hdd. Both sony and apple’s incuded earbuds were made for people with gigantic earholes. This leads to constant neck bending in search of the fallen bud, and frustrations at having missed yet again another favorite portion of a song. My advice? Get yourself better headphones (like my fav: son mdrq55lpb very much like a more expensive brand, but chepie cheep!)
    Audio quality:
    sony would like you to believe that 48mbps atrac3 is anywhere equal to a 120+mp3 quality file. Bullocks. you need at least a 103-298mbps quality file to match the everyday quality of a normal mp3 file. This in turn decreases sony’s purported 13,000 tracks capacity with the nw-hd1. No-one could listen to music happily at that quality level. Unless you are already going deaf
    This is by far the most important component a mp3 player can have. If a consumer cannot use the software easily, then the cute hardware becomes useless. Someone should have explained this to sony.
    Ipod comes with a very intuitive, and sleek software interface. Children use it, elderly use it, even technophobes can figure it out. Charge your ipod, connect your ipod, transfer your tunes. Simple!
    For Sony’s NW-HD-1, this is where the self flagellation begins
    A blight be unto the “genius” who developed soundstage. It works like a senior project for software design school. Full of bugs, freezes up your computer when running, and selectively transfers music to the player.
    Believe me, i am a sony loyalist, the list of sony products in my home is quite long, which is why I was shocked to be so dissapointed by such a pretty piece of equipment. If only sony had done right by me and properly developed its software to actually work, it would have kept me loyal. And spared you this review/blog.
    Listen, get yourself an ipod. Or if you really want to hold out, wait till sony releases it’s new NW-HD5 in may. Wait a month after the rease for blogs, and if you dont see “improvements to soundstage” in any review, skip it, and buy yourself and iriver, zentouch, dell, heck, anything but the NW-HD!


  8. Red Wolf

    27 April 2005 at 8.39 am

    The iPod GUI is so simple that my technophobe partner figured it out, I suspect that even my mother could happily get the hang of it in minutes. The only letdown with the iPod is the horror of iTunes, Unfortunately, the Winamp plugin, while great when it works, is still a work in progress. Given time it will mean completely deleting iTunes.
    I wouldn’t bother holding out for any new Sony hardware if you want MP3 compatibility. You cannot just put your MP3s onto the devices, you have to run them through Sony’s obfuscation software first. The obfuscated files, when installed properly on the device, can be played. But you can’t just move them around, share them with your friends, whatever.
    Happily, the dodgy obfuscation scheme has already been broken by a brave hacker


  9. Robin

    29 April 2005 at 2.05 am

    I have the Sony, and unfortunantly very dissapointed =(.
    The sonic stage part sucks, but il survive that, the problems is tho, that whatever i try to do, the sound of my music becomes very low after i transfered them to my NW hd-1. anyone else got this problem? i sure cant live with it.


  10. hinges

    5 May 2005 at 10.20 am

    Robin, if you’re talking about volume you need to turn off AVLS (automatic volume limiting system). It’s designed to stop you blowing your ears out, but it’s limit is set way too low so it’s worthless. Turn it off and crank it up.


  11. chi

    21 May 2005 at 12.02 pm

    If you live in the UK then the HD3 has further sound limitation due to EU regulations. there is a button press method to disable this.


  12. Jose Carlos Aguirre

    24 September 2005 at 12.14 pm

    If I convert AAC (Itunes format) to MP3, does it lose sound quality????


  13. Pete

    1 October 2005 at 9.11 pm

    Sonic stage does NOT make song volume less.
    The sony device had a sound limiter on it, which you can turn off in the service mode (a short matter of keying a password in, gamepad style i think it is RRLLRLRLUD with the menu button held down in playmode, with the keypad lock on – no seriously!).
    The quality of AAC depends on the bitrate, just like mp3 does, as does sony’s ATRAC format. i still use mp3 VBR at 100% (320).


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