I was so tempted to use “Nano Killer?” in the headline, but A) I hate that sh*t and 2) realistically Apple is the only one capable of killing the iPod in any of its incarnations. That said, awhile back I got a chance to play around with preproduction models of the NWZ-A810 (after the jump) and NWZ-S610 (right) and they are pretty solid competition against offerings from Apple, Creative and iRiver.
First off, Sony ditched its own proprietary formats, opting instead to support secure WMA, as well as non-secure AAC and MP3 music formats, plus JPEG files for photos, and the AVC (H.264/AVC) Baseline Profile and MPEG-4 video codecs. They’re also certified PlaysForSure devices for use with Yahoo! Music, Napster and the like. And even though it comes bundled with Microsoft Windows Media Player 11, they’re independent of any player; all files can be loaded by drag and drop.
Second, instead of bogging them down with gimmicky features and a crazy GUI, Sony kept them fairly basic and instead concentrated on the LCD and audio quality and battery life. The interface is a standard icon-based grid menu system, similar to what you’d find on an average cellphone. There’s a nice search feature to help you quickly get through large collections and about the fanciest feature you’ll find is the ability to view video horizontally giving you a wider screen. Sony’s claiming 33 hours of music playback for both players, with video at 8 hours for the A810 and 9.5 hours for the S610.
Lastly, the higher-end NWZ-A810 series pictured left has a bright 2-inch QVGA (320×240) LCD, which is small, but very viewable and capable of 30fps playback. It also comes with a quality set of Sony MDR-EX082 earbuds.
The NWZ-S610 uses a 1.8-inch QVGA LCD (also 320×240 and capable of 30fps) and includes an FM tuner. Sony says this model is targeted at younger users, but I actually preferred the feel and styling of it more than the more expensive A810.
The NWZ-A810 series of Walkman video music players come in three different capacities and four colors:
• The NWZ-A815: 2GB; white, pink, black and silver; $140.
• The NWZ-A816: 4GB; white, pink, black and silver; $180.
• The NWZ-A818: 8GB; black and silver; $230.
The NWZ-S610 series of Walkman music players come in three different capacities and four colors:
• The NWZ-S615F: 2GB; black, pink, red and silver; $120.
• The NWZ-S616F: 4GB; black, pink, red and silver; $160.
• The NWZ-S618F: 8GB; black; $210.
Didn’t really talk about these, but the the NWZ-B100 series of Walkman music players have a three-line color LCD display and an FM tuner as well as a built-in mic. They come in two different capacities and colors:
• The NWZ-B103F: 1GB; black; $60.
• The NWZ-B105F: 2GB; black and white; $80.
The new Walkman models will be available online today and at Sony Style retail stores, at military base exchanges and at authorized dealers nationwide in September. The silver players will be sold exclusively at Sony Style retail store and site.