Sony Walkman NWZ-A846 review

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

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


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.


Headphone Rating****


Formatted capacity32.00GB
Storage mediumflash memory
Battery and charge optionsLi-ion, USB


Device has screen?Yes
Viewable size2.8 in
Native resolution240x400
Memory card supportnone
FM Radioyes
Audio record optionsnone
Video record optionsnone
Supplied withheadphones, 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 time1m 46s
Audio MP3 playbackYes
Audio WMA playbackYes
Audio WMA-DRM playbackYes
Audio AAC playbackYes
Audio Protected AAC playbackNo
Audio OGG playbackNo
Audio WAV playbackYes
Audio Audible playbackNo
Image BMP supportNo
Image JPEG supportYes
Image TIFF supportNo
Video MPEG-4 AVI playbackNo
Video MPEG-4 MP4 playbackYes
Video WMV playbackYes
Video MPEG-1 playbackNo
Video MPEG-2 playbackNo
Video MPEG-2 VOB playbackNo
Video MPEG-4 DivX/XviD supportYes
Video H.264 supportYes
Video MPEG-4 MP3 audio supportYes
Video MPEG-4 AAC audio supportYes
Download compatibilitynone

Buying Information

Price per MB0.5p
Warrantyone year RTB

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