Posted by: Ji-L87 | July 4, 2008

Good Sony Bad Sony

A few days ago, I managed to drop my good ol’ Zen Micro mp3 player one time too much, apparently damaging the 5 gig Seagate micro drive inside. I’ve had this player for maybe a little more than 3 years and it’s gotten dropped a few times, the LCD screen has sunken in a bit and just after rebuilding the library, it has worked! …until now.

(The stylish touch-based Creative Zen Micro, in my eyes superior to the iPod mini at the time it was released)

Luckily, I turned 21 yesterday and I pretty much knew I was going to get money so I started to research and look at reviews in order to find a worthy successor.
…it wasn’t easy, but after a day or two, I had narrowed it down to 5 possible choices.
The (new) Creative Zen, Iriver Clix 2, Cowon iAudio D2, Sony a810 and the Samsung YP-P2.

According to the reviews I’ve read, all these was supposed to be good players with good sound quality, as well as good screens for pictures and movies…even though the format support was a little quirky and most refused to play anything but converted files.

So the next day, I dragged a friend around in Stockholm going to all the known electronic/TV/Audio-shops I could find to see if I could get a closer look and maybe even try them.
Sadly though, no shop had them set up so that you could play with them and I had to settle with just pressing buttons and holding a dead player that had a huge magnet thing strapped to the back with a cord so that no one could run away it, making them not very ergonomic.
Problem with this is that, while the Zen and Sony had buttons, the Samsung and Cowon was touch based and I couldn’t really get a good feel at all how it would be to use them.
…oh and the Iriver was nowhere to be found.

Anyway, so, yesterday = birthday = money = shopping time!
In the end, with the Cowon nowhere in sight in the stores we went to this time (and the Samsung only in 4 gig and very pricey) it was Creative Zen vs the Sony a810.
But no, no no no, things doesn’t go that easily. Turns out the only store there that had the Sonys had all the models over and under the 810 but not the 810 itself. So, as the 808 and 818 looked just the same, with the staff not knowing the difference I decided I’d try my luck with the 808 as it was the same price as the Zen. They had very few in stock, just a black 808 that had been returned but was in almost new condition, and a white but pricier 818. Not wanting to pay another 300 sek for the white I took the black one.

So I get home, starts to play around a little and then things starts go bad. On the way home from the store I noticed that the headphones shipped with had a very very short cord. When I got home and wanted to put songs on it (and remove all hideous trance and club music the previous owner left behind), I installed the software…and the evil that is Sony SonicStage rose from the depths of software hell. It was a horrible program, so horrible that I started to regret buying the player after just a minute of trying to figure out a way that would let me put songs on the player without first putting all my songs in a library in the program itself, which could then export the music to the player. It was possible to open the player as a normal usb drive, except that…I couldn’t find any mp3 files in there…just…gibberish. And if you put a file there it didn’t show up in the player.
During that time, I noticed that I was missing a few more things that should’ve come in the box, an extension for the earphone cord for example.

Wanting at least the cord extension, my dad offered to drive back and see if he could get the missing accessories. Now, I’m lucky we live in the mobile phone age, because when he was driving there I was home and looked a few things up; It would appear that even if the a808 look and performed (almost) the same as the newer models, it was the last one to use the hideous SonicStage. From 810 and onward, you could drag and drop and put music in folders yourself, same with photos and video.
So I called him and asked that if possible, he should try and return the 808 and instead get the 818, even though it was pricier.

And here it is:

(No gadget of mine capable of video is complete without a few anime clips and episodes)

And it would seem that it actually is a very decent player and (probably) a worthy successor of my late Zen Micro. The sound is very good, with lots of options and things to change to enhance it, the videos play smooth, reaching 30fps if done right, and the 2” color LCD is vibrant (though viewing angles are so-so). Only thing I miss right now is cover art. The player supports it, but I probably have to use WMP11 to get them to work, just putting an image file in the same folder as the music doesn’t work.
I still have lots of music to put in there but it goes pretty fast thanks to the drag and drop.

So, the moral of this story is that whatever you do, don’t get a Sony NWZ-A series lower than 810…unless you enjoy inflicting mental damage and frustration to yourself.

Oh and the white ones are sooooo much nicer looking than the black ones~! /o/
And a BIG thanks to the previous owner. Music & photos aside, it was the fact that all things were not included that saved me from hard manual labor in soviet sony-land.

Edit: Drew something~! /o/



  1. 🙂

    I would have gone for a Iriver or Samsung Y2 with touchscreen :p

    But I would never get down to watch movies or such at that kind of screen. I do want to get myself a mp3 player, but I wonder for what? My phone works like a mp3 player without failing me sofar.

    Would be great stuff to have a Y2 as I remember them being bluetooth workable so basically no cords!!

    But again, I already have that for my phone so why get a mp3 player? Damn I want to get the Sony X1 NOW!! Cause if I can´t hold on then I´ll most likely grab a iphone now when it arrives on the 11th of July…

  2. @manga:
    I really wanted to get a closer look and feel for the Samsung, it sure seemed interesting, but as far as bluetooth capabilities comes, I don’t have any bluetooth equipment and I don’t tend to mind cords too much anyway…doesn’t eat as much batteries either 😉

    And as for mp3 phones, I dunno, I never really have tested one and I think I prefer dedicated devices for phone calls/music playback anyway…
    However, I DO want to see more mp3-players with web browsers…

  3. Then get yourself a ipod touch :p

    music, video, internet and all.

    I wanted to get one but nope, I´ll wait untill I finally decide on what I really really really want. And from the looks of it there will be a showdown between the iphone and Sony Ericsson X1.

  4. If I wanted an iPod, I would have one already : )

  5. You really ought to have gotten an iTouch, it’s basically the only mobile device with a browser that doesn’t invoke painful mental images. Have you tried browsing on a PSP? >_<

  6. Have you tried browsing on a PSP? >_<

    Seen it been done, looked rather painful. I’m not even sure I want to try the browser for the DS….

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