Sony Walkman NWZ-Z1060 review
Sony's new Walkman is a chunky Android-based MP3 player with 32GB internal storage and a 4.3in QVGA (800x480) screen. It has similar battery life to most Android phones and managed to keep playing audio for 22 hours and video for almost six and a half in our tests.
The Walkman is big enough to use for comfortable mini-tablet style gaming and movie watching, but it's a bit of a squeeze if you want to stuff it into your jeans pocket. It has a snazzy coloured back, although this proved to be slightly prone to scratching. Tinny - but surprisingly loud - little speakers on the rear allow you to share your impeccable musical taste with fellow bus commuters, too. For some unknown reason, Sony has seen fit to use a proprietary USB cable, which means you'll either have to buy extras or cart your only cable everywhere with you. We'd have been much happier with the same standard micro USB port found on every other Android device. The Walkman also has a mini HDMI port, so you can connect it to a TV if you want to watch videos on a bigger screen.
The MP3 player comes installed with Android 2.3.4 (Gingerbread), rather than Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich), which is a bit of a disappointment, but the player's 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 processor - although it's getting on a bit – is powerful enough to make Sony's launcher interface run smoothly. The supplied music app is easy to use and has some cool features, such as a mood analyser, but you can't search through track names and its format support isn't great - it can handle AAC, MP3, WAV and WMA files, but we had to install Winamp to play our OGG files and AndLess to play FLAC content. Similarly, if you want to play Audible's proprietary AU format audiobooks, you'll have to download a dedicated app. The joy of Android, of course, is that installing these apps is easy to do.
The Walkman's sound quality is excellent. That's par for the course - modern phones and MP3 players generally have high quality DACs. The default settings of Sony's own music app are fairly flat and well balanced, with a slight bass emphasis. There are also plenty of other settings you can apply to normalise track volumes, change the EQ balance and compensate for the effect of dynamic range compression during the music production process. However, we slightly preferred the audio characteristics and settings built into the free Winamp player - the choice is up to you, as you can install any Android audio app you want. If you use the Walkman button on the side of the player to wake up the player's screen, it will jump straight to the Sony music player app; waking the Walkman with the power button at the top of the device will take you straight to whichever app you’re currently using.
The supplied earplug-style headphones are among the best you'll get with an MP3 player, but we found them a touch boomy and bass-heavy for our taste. This made it harder to pick out detail in the mid and treble ranges. Fans of more balanced audio are advised to upgrade to headphones such as the Soundmagic E10 earplug style set.