Sony Walkman NWZ-A846 review

The A846 is a desirable player, but is burdened by limited audio format support and a high price.

27 Dec 2010
Sony Walkman NWZ-A846
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

Although Sony stopped making its iconic cassette Walkmans in 2010, the brand lives on with the Walkman NWZ-A846, Sony's thinnest ever MP3 player. Its slightly textured matt black body encases 32GB of flash storage and a 2.8in OLED display, where a grid of nine icons makes it easy to access all your options and media.

The player looks and feels beautiful. Even its buttons are lovely, designed as a sequence of concentric circles with the play button in the middle, directional controls on the next ring, and the back and option keys straddling the two.

Sony Walkman NWZ-A846

The supplied earbuds are designed to work with the Walkman's built in active noise cancelling circuitry – not all headphones will. They're excellent by the standards of supplied headphones, but still sound a bit muddy at lower volumes. The noise cancelling works well, although we didn’t like the characteristic high-pitched whine that seems an integral part of any form of active noise cancellation.

The player's basic sound quality, which we tested with a variety of headphones, is excellent – not that we've had problems with the audio quality of an MP3 player in years – with a detailed and finely balanced sound.

The A846 connects to your PC using an irritating proprietary connector – we'd have preferred a standard microUSB port – but doesn't require special software. Windows detected it as a Media Transfer Protocol (MTP) device, so you can copy music and videos to it using either Windows Media Player or by just dragging files to its relevant directories in Windows Explorer.

Unfortunately, audio format support is surprisingly poor – the A846 can't play OGG, FLAC or the Audible audiobook format. These are all niche audio types, but most players support at least one. The only supported image format is JPEG – our TIFF and BMP files couldn't be displayed.

We were pleasantly surprised by the scope of its ability to play videos, though, with support for codecs and wrappers including MPEG-4, WMV9, H.264 and the WMV-DRM formats used by services like BBC iPlayer. It can't handle video playlists, but that's a minor niggle.

The A846's screen has a native resolution of 400x240, but the player can cope with video in a variety of other resolutions. We were prompted to convert most unsupported video files automatically, although it couldn't work out what to do with more obscure formats such as MKV. Video quality is excellent, thanks to the bright, even OLED display, which has a surprisingly wide range of viewing angles.

At £199, the A846 costs just £25 less than an iPod Touch with the same amount of storage – that's expensive by any standard, particularly for a player that doesn't even have a touchscreen. It's beautifully made, fits in your pocket easily, sounds great and has a lovely display; if it cost £70 less, it'd be a good buy, but its poor audio format support and a painfully steep price count against it.


Price £179
Rating ***
Headphone Rating ****


Capacity 32.00GB
Formatted capacity 32.00GB
Interface USB
Storage medium flash memory
Battery and charge options Li-ion, USB
Size 105x47x72mmmm
Weight 62g


Device has screen? Yes
Viewable size 2.8 in
Native resolution 240x400
Memory card support none
FM Radio yes
Audio record options none
Video record options none
Supplied with headphones, USB cable, universal dock adaptor, line-in adaptor, airline adaptor

Test Results

Tested battery life (MP3 playback) 31h 32m
Tested battery life (Video playback) 9h 43m
500MB transfer time 1m 46s
Audio MP3 playback Yes
Audio WMA playback Yes
Audio WMA-DRM playback Yes
Audio AAC playback Yes
Audio Protected AAC playback No
Audio OGG playback No
Audio WAV playback Yes
Audio Audible playback No
Image BMP support No
Image JPEG support Yes
Image TIFF support No
Video MPEG-4 AVI playback No
Video MPEG-4 MP4 playback Yes
Video WMV playback Yes
Video MPEG-1 playback No
Video MPEG-2 playback No
Video MPEG-2 VOB playback No
Video MPEG-4 DivX/XviD support Yes
Video H.264 support Yes
Video MPEG-4 MP3 audio support Yes
Video MPEG-4 AAC audio support Yes
Download compatibility none

Buying Information

Price per MB 0.5p
Warranty one year RTB

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