The portable cassette player was a hit with children born in the 80s and 90s. The company recently launched a revamped model of the Walkman with touchscreen and Android OS. If you’re wondering how good or bad the new digital Walkman is, here’s what we have to say.
Sony Walkman NW-A105: Design
The Sony Walkman NW-A105 presents the design of any classic smartphone these days. It offers a 3.6 inch touch screen with glasses on the top and sides. By modern standards, the display may not impress you. Brightness levels are low. We suggest not watching videos on the device given the small screen and the fact that it heats up very quickly.
The Walkman comes with a total of seven physical buttons. This is both good and bad. Good because you don’t have to unlock the device to change a song or music levels. Bad because one, it irritates while holding the device in hand and two, it rubs against the pocket of your jeans when it is held. Fortunately, the company has given a dedicated hold button that locks your sound settings and musical preferences. All these buttons are present on the right side of the Walkman. You can increase / decrease volume levels, skip songs, play forward / backward with these buttons. In particular, these functions can also be performed using the screen, leaving the need for physical buttons and touch display to be asked. Presumably, the company wanted to give users a choice.
At the bottom is the 3.5mm headphone jack with the USB Type-C port for charging the Walkman. There is also a microSD card slot to expand the storage. Sony Walkman NW-A105 has internal storage of 16 GB only. The device is light and portable and can be used for activities like jogging.
Sony Walkman NW-A105: performance
The Sony Walkman NW-A105 is the first player to run on Android. It is equipped with the operating system Android 9. Running on Google Android gives access to the Google Play Store which can be used to install any music streaming application you want – Spotify, Amazon Prime, Wynk or others. The new Walkman contains 4 GB of RAM and is powered by a quad-core processor. The device is a bit slow, which is justified given that it is not a smartphone, although it looks like one. Another problem is that it heats up very easily (thanks to Android maybe).
It works with wired and wireless headphones using Bluetooth. The music player supports high resolution audio and DSD audio formats up to 11.2 MHz. We listened to all kinds of Bollywood songs and were satisfied with the quality offered.
The new Walkman comes with the default music player app that lets you store songs, create playlists, and play music. One notable feature that this application has to offer is the cassette screen. This sets the display to display the tape after a certain period of time when the playback screen is displayed. This brings back the nostalgia of the old Sony Walkman devices.
There is also a Sound Adjustments app which is largely a control center for customizing parameters such as equalizer, clean audio, dynamic normalizer and more. The equalizer allows you to customize the sound to your preferences, while the clean sound improves digital signal processing. Then there is the DSSE HX function which improves the audio quality and converts it to high definition sound. We would like to add here that these features are only useful when you have a great understanding of sound and music. For general users, the default settings should do the trick and he / she needn’t bother.
Sony Walkman NW-A015 offers a noise canceling function. There are ambient noise and noise canceling applications that mainly offer two parameters – noise cancellation and ambient sound mode. Needless to say, the noise canceling mode reduces surrounding sound, while the ambient mode lets nearby sounds in, keeping you posted. These two functions are also accessible from the drop-down menu. However, the application allows you to adjust the ambient sound level and to refine the noise cancellation effect. When we first saw the feature, we wondered how relevant it was for a music player to offer noise cancellation? And will it be able to reduce the ambient sounds? The answer is both yes and no. The function does not work with wired headphones, as long as the audio device itself has an ANC mode. However, the functionality worked very well for wireless headsets.
Talking about the right audio device for the Walkman, finding the ideal one could be a task. Sony does not ship headphones with the Walkman. So either you buy one for yourself or you use one that you use with your smartphone. Purchasing a new one could be an additional expense (especially when you have already paid Rs 23,990 for the Walkman) and the use of an ordinary headset may not justify the Walkman itself.
The Sony Walkman NW-A105 is an expensive device, more expensive than the Apple iPod Touch. Its greatest strength – Android OS is also its enemy which not only allows it to heat up quickly, but affects its overall performance. Applications open slowly and the loading time is comparatively longer. Although it’s a separate portfolio of devices, you end up comparing the new Walkman to an Android phone. And why not. What is the need for a dedicated music player in the era of streaming apps and smartphones with high audio output, one might wonder. Besides nostalgia and a few new features like the touch screen and an operating system, the Walkman NW-A105 may not appeal to many. The price of Rs 23,990 could also be a major stop.