I once described sony as "good at making the best product you've ever used but! there's a catch" and if there was ever a product made to showcase this, it'd be this one

The Sony nw-a1000 is pretty similar to my nw-e507, funky styling, oled screen under translucent plastic, overall premium feel. Except instead of a smaller more shuffle-style player, this is going after the classic ipod, with a hard disk (6gb wow!) and more traditional d-pad controls. It's hard to tell from photos online, but this thing is very tiny. The same height as the e507, which is about a cm or so less tall than the ipod. They did also make a larger model (30gb wow!!) that was about the size of an ipod, but these start to get a bit too expensive and I kinda like the smaller size anyway

The controls are alright. A dpad is probably the most basic you can get for an mp3 player (though the arrangement of the option and back button is visually pretty neat), which makes this work decently when you're holding and looking at it, though a little sloppily if you keep it in your pocket (probably why it has a remote connection!) All this makes it feels almost like a minidisc player with a hard disc rather than something that stemmed from the e507. The volume switch is kinda neat, it's a slider that springs back to center when you let go of it, which makes it pretty easy to use with one hand. Directly across from it though is the artist link button.

Artist link is more or less a way to locate similar songs to the one you're listening to at the moment, which doesn't sound like much today, since it's basically a "reccomended songs" feature, but in 2005 this was a big enough deal that there's a dedicated button for it on the player. There isn't very much information on the internet as to how this actually works, and it's a tad more complicated than just like, shoving similar genres together. Sonicstage used to connect to a service called Gracenote, that would automatically download track data, this data would involve "artist links" that connect various artists together based on a variety of factors. This feature no longer works, and I doubt they'd have much data for the artists I listen to, but it is possible to manually link artists together in sonicstage to create your own artist link data

For example here, Ke$ha makes some upbeat music like what might be played in a club, but can able be roped into 2000s pop, so would appear when a song under either of those catagories was playing when the artist link button is pressed. It might be partly because of hand-linking 100 or so artists, but this works pretty good for what it is. Here's a clip of it in action:

Did I mention the screen yet? If I'm going to be talking about how sick this player is, this is at the forefront. It uses the same tech as the e507, but with a larger screen. Due to the size, it doesn't quite work as well as the e507, but is still very cool. The facade is broken most when there's a light directly above you shining into it, as then you can see the outline of the screen, and it works best in lower light, sometimes even night

Sony put a lot of care into the UI design too. The buttons slowly light up when pressed, things as simple as the clock look visually stunning, there's a home menu that even has a slide-in animation from the edges, and my personal favorite, the screensavers. While playing a track, you can set it to play an animation (at the cost of battery life.) Some neat ones are one that makes the surface of the device look like a pond with raindrops falling into it, and one with a small rabbit that hops into and out of the screen.

Sadly these oleds don't hold up super well over time, and ones on a device with a UI designed to be looked at to operate, tend to go out a bit quicker. (basically all the ones on minidisc players are completely dead by now) Mine is at about half strength after 20 years, which equates to about 25% brightness on my S9 phone display. This makes it unseeable in sunlight, just about right under indoor lighting, and really cool at night

Overall an extremely beautiful player that does what it needs to, except for


Yeah Sony loves to fuck it up with a few odd design choices

First off is the hold switch, which actually isn't a switch at all, it's a button just like any of the other controls on the face. Almost all of the buttons, aside from maybe the artist link one, are recessed enough that I would 100% not accidentally press anything while using it. The only time I think any has a risk of accidentally getting pressed is while I'd off in a bag not being used, since pressing ANY button wakes it up. But since the hold toggle is a button, the only time you can't enable it is when it's off, the one time I could see it being used.

On topic of any button waking the device up, any button does, but if you use the play button to do so, it will automatically start playing upon waking up. Now my creative player goes about this by auto playing music if you left a track playing when you last shut it down, and not doing so if you left it paused. The key difference here, though, is that the creative starts playing the music before the OS even finishes booting up, the sony on the other hand, will always take at least ten seconds before it begins to play anything. This isn't even the hard drive being slow or anything, I only have 100 or so songs on here right now and even tried defragging it with winxp.

The icing on the cake here is that the sony has an auto shutoff when you pause it. If you want to pause it to quickly chat with someone or suchwhat, it will automatically power down after 30 seconds, and make you wait that extra ten again before you can resume playback. You can change the screen timeout, but even if it's set at a minute, it will still shut off after 30 seconds while paused. This all feels like a weird compromise in order to save a bit on the next gripe,

The Battery sucks. They advertise 16-20 hours, which isn't great, but I can't find any trace of anyone on the internet getting even close to that. The highest I've seen is a reviewer getting 11, but most everyone else gets between 4-10. The upper limit of which being with the screensaver off, screen timeout on the lowest setting, equalizer off, etc. So TLDR the battery sucks ass, and sucks a bit less if you shut off all the fun stuff

This wouldn't be too bad, but with the addition of another very small gripe, it makes me basically not want to use it. It charges through a proprietary connector. My e507 I could charge basically anywhere I had a computer, as I have a lot of micro-usb cables around (though that could just be 'cause I'm a freak,) but the a1000 I have to specifically plug in another cable to my computer just for this. It takes much longer to charge too. It just overall could be a lot lot better.

I'll prolly use this thing around the house and to bring to functions, as it's still super cool late at night and even has stuff like line out, though I'll prolly stick with my e507 for portable use.

Also hey how well did this page load? All of the stills taken with a camera were hosted on flickr, and it's seemed that they do a pretty good job of loading smaller images based on the img tag width

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