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Sony Walkman NWZ-F886 review

Expert Reviews Staff
7 Jan 2014
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
290
inc VAT

High resolution audio on the move is finally attainable, but only the keenest will be willing to pay smartphone prices for it

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The Sony Walkman NWZ-F886 is a 32GB media player designed to play high-resolution audio so you can enjoy music recorded at a higher-than-CD sound quality at up to 24-bit/192kHz. It also runs Android 4.1.1, so you can use it to enjoy games and watch movies.

Sony Walkman NWZ-F886

The NWZ-F886 uses Sony’s S-Master digital amplifier chip to produce sound and filter noise. Annoyingly, Sony uses a proprietary connector for its Walkman rather than the Micro USB slots used by most other Android devices. In Japan, the company has released a cable to output sound from the Walkman via an external USB DAC, but there’s been no sign of a UK release date for this hardware.

Sony Walkman NWZ-F886

While many Android media players are essentially smartphones without the phone, Sony has added some very specific hardware elements to the NWZ-F886. There are extra control buttons on its right-hand side, including a play button and keys to skip back and forth between tracks. These are useful, particularly if you want to use the player without taking your hand out of your pocket. You must apply some pressure to the buttons to activate them, so there’s little chance they will be accidentally pressed. The player’s more angular than many current mobiles, though, which makes it feel uncomfortable to hold. It doesn’t look very stylish, either.

Sony Walkman NWZ-F886

The NWZ-F886’s 4in screen has a resolution of 854x480 pixels. It’s bright and attractive, but its glossy surface shows up fingerprints. Other features include NFC, which lets you pair the NWZ-F886 with compatible Bluetooth devices, such as portable speakers, more easily. The NWZ-F886 also uses the aptX Bluetooth streaming standard to ensure you get the best possible audio when streaming music, but your speaker will need to support aptX. There’s also an FM radio tuner built in.

This player has integrated digital noise cancelling, which should help to reduce the volume of ambient sound. The noise cancellation had a deadening effect on sound, but it blocked sounds such as engine noise very well. Sadly, it’s less effective at reducing the volume of a busy office. The supplied in-ear headphones are better than many we’ve used, producing clear sound that flatters most music. However, we found that the bulky earpieces tended to pull away from our ears, no matter how we wore them.

Sony Walkman NWZ-F886

The NWZ-F886’s operating system is Android 4.1.1, and it has a range of Sony media apps pre-installed. The most notable is Sony’s Music Player app, which is more slickly designed than Google’s Music app or most third-party audio players for Android. The Music Player app is part of a suite of apps that share interface design elements, control gestures and icons. Also included are video and photo viewers. Conveniently, the NWZ-F886 has a DLNA browser that lets you stream music from UPnP shares on your local network.

The apps are excellent, but not without flaws. We found that music unexpectedly stops playing when you take a screenshot and resumes when the task is complete. It also stopped when we tried to add cover art to an album that lacked an associated image. However, we experienced no such problems when we browsed through our photos using the Sony photo viewer or Google gallery apps.

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