Archive for April, 2008

By April 13, 2008 Read More →

Sony HDR-TG3E Handycam answers

Ater posting my Sony HDR-TG3E Handycam unboxing video a few days ago I received a large number of questions about the camera so I thought I would put all the answers in one place along with a few sample images and videos that you’ve been asking for.

The TG3 records videos in AVCHD format on to an MSPro Duo card. At its highest, 1920x1080i, setting you can record around 40 minutes of video on a 4GB card.

The TG3 can record in 720p mode.

When shooting stills the highest resultion is 4MP for 4:3 format and 3MP for 16:9

‘Steady shot’ mode is included.

According to my contact at Sony, who supplied the demo unit, they have yet to fix the retail price of the TG3. They are expecting to do that this week but say that they anticipate that it will be around the £600 mark.

The TG3 should be released in the UK on the 1st May 2008

You can see the full spec. of the TG3 on the Sony website here.

A few still photos taken with the TG3: Sample 1 and Sample 2

You can also download the raw MTS file from here. The video was recorded at the highest quality setting and is straight from the camera.

Posted by: Matt

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Posted in: Cameras
By April 12, 2008 Read More →

VITO Technology releases Audio Notes Touch

VITO Technology reincarnates its best-seller AudioNotes into brand new Audio Notes Touch with absolutely new finger-friendly interface for audio recording on Windows Mobile. Together with great functionality of the irreplaceable MP3 recorder Audio Notes Touch has become easy to use. The support of ID3 tags will be appreciated by the most users who record lots of files everyday.

Audio Notes Touch

Audio Notes Touch

The features that Audio Notes Touch inherited from VITO AudioNotes are the following: the ability to record MP3 files (low, middle, and high quality), calls auto record (where hardware permits), microphone sensitivity enhancement, speakerphone auto on, VAS (voice activation system), and many more. The main difference in Audio Notes Touch is the brand-new user-interface. The application is touch-oriented, so you can perform all necessary actions only with fingers. The stylish finger scrolling through the list of audio notes, T9 look-up and big buttons is a major breakthrough in mobile audio recording.

ID3 tags have long ago become a must have for mp3 audio files. New Audio Notes Touch automatically completes ID3 tag fields with relevant info when recording. This info comes in handy when managing your audio files. Players that support ID3 tagging allow you to easily sort all records by incoming/outgoing calls, time and date of creation, caller’s name, etc.

Moreover, Audio Notes Touch automatically decides where to record: to storage card or to main memory judging by the amount of free space and the availability of a storage card.

Audio Notes Touch is available for $ 14.95 at

Posted by: Matt

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Posted in: Apps & Games
By April 11, 2008 Read More →

Sony HDR-TG3E Handycam preview video (exclusive)

Last week Sony announced their newest HD camcorder, the HDR-TG3E Handycam, the Worlds smallest digital HD camcorder.

Today Sony sent me the retail version of the TG3 to have a look at and, according to them, we are the first to get our hands on this puppy!

Unfortunately, due to the long queue of people waiting to review the HDR-TG3E, we only get to keep the Handycam for a few days so there wont be an detailed review from us this time. We do have our unboxing video though and I’ll be letting you know what I think of the camera too. Hopefully we’ll get our hands on another TG3 so that we can do a full review at a later date.

Sony HDR-TG3E Handycam unboxed

First impressions are that this is an amazingly small and light camcorder. The size and weight isn’t achieved at the expense of build quality either as the TG3 looks and feels very solid, probably thanks to the chassis being made from titanium.

I also like the fact that so much is included in the package. In fact the box contains everything you need to get up and running, including a 4GB MSProDuo card. It’s quite unusual for media to be included in a camcorder package.

Sony HDR-TG3E Handycam

Sony HDR-TG3E Handycam

Setting up and using the TG3 for the first time is straight forward thanks to the intuitive touch screen menus. It’s simply a case of setting up the date and time and then choosing the shooting mode. Once you have inserted the memory card you are ready to start filming. Even if you have never used a video camera before I’m pretty confident that you’ll be able to use the basic features of the TG3 without having to read the user guide.

Sony HDR-TG3E Handycam controls

Sony HDR-TG3E Handycam controls

The controls on the TG3 are well laid out, the most important ones sitting with in easy reach of your thumb while shooting. In fact there are not that many buttons or controls on the TG3, most of the settings and functions are accessed through the touch-screen.

Sony HDR-TG3E Handycam front view

Sony HDR-TG3E Handycam front view

The TG3 isn’t just for videos though, you can take digital still pictures too and there’s even a built in flash on the front of the camera. Another thing that’s nice about the TG3 is that you can take a still picture while you are recording a video. If you choose to do this then the image is captured at 2.3 megapixels. However, if you are in still image mode that is increased to 3 megapixels – not a huge number, but adequate.

One thing to be aware of with the flash though is that it is so close to the camera lens that red-eye and dust orbs are likely to be more of an issue than normal.

Sony HDR-TG3E Handycam connectors

Sony HDR-TG3E Handycam connectors

The TG3 has a range of connectors that should cover almost every application. The AV connector covers composite video/audio and also component video. A USB connector allows you to hook the TG3 up to a PC or Mac in order to download and edit your videos. Under a cover on the back you can find an HDMI socket so you can plug directly into a HD TV and play back your HD videos. The HDMI cable is the only one not included in the box.

Sony HDR-TG3E Handycam bottom view

Sony HDR-TG3E Handycam bottom view

There’s also a special connector on the bottom of the camera for the docking station (which is also included in the package). The docking station replicates the power, AV and USB connections from the camcorder but not the HDMI.

A final word (for now) on the video quality. I recorded a few sample clips in low-light conditions last night and I’m very impressed how well the TG3 performs. Playing back the video on my 50″ HD Plasma TV the results are fabulous and despite the video being a digital format, requiring compression, there are no obvious compression artefacts.

As the camera uses no moving parts for recording there’s no tape or DVD motor noise on the playback and it also means that recording is silent.

In all the TG3 is a great camcorder, small in size but not at all small in features.

Sample video and images as well as some answers to your questions can be found in this post.

Posted by: Matt

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Posted in: Videos/Unboxings
By April 10, 2008 Read More →

i-mate JAMA 101 review

The i-mate JAMA 101 – it’s a mini JAMin!

10 second review:
Device: i-mate JAMA 101
Cost: SIM free only: £199.95
Available from: Devicewire
Summary: a mini version of the popular JAMin but needs a little work to be a as much of a star as its predecessor
Best of: size and looks
Worst of: can be slow at times

i-mate JAMA 101

i-mate JAMA 101

The Full Review

Hot on the heels of the x150 reviews we featured a few weeks ago we’ve had a hands on with the consumer equivalent the i-mate JAMA 101 the JAMA range is i-mates first foray into the consumer marketplace after the dissolution of their relationship with HTC so it’s quite key to their brand image, we’re going to look at how the JAMA measures up. The 101 is an upgraded version specs wise and styling wise over the original JAMA.

I-mates HTC devices have stood them in good stead, the JAMA looks just like a mini version of i-mates HTC JAMin which was a massive favourite of mine. The JAMA certainly turned heads the styling and size are fantastic, the screen is a little smaller than is ideal but you’re getting a really compact PDA here with Windows Mobile 6 professional on board.

What’s in the box?

The usual bits and pieces come with in the box with the JAMA and you can see more in Matt’s JAMA unboxing video but the basics are:

  • i-mate JAMA 101
  • Mains charger
  • Battery
  • USB Sync/charge cable
  • User guide
  • Screen protector
  • Wired stereo headset
  • Spare stylus
  • Application CD rom
  • i-mate JAMA 101 specification:

  • Microsoft® Windows Mobile® 6 Professional
  • Samsung 300 MHz processor
  • 128Mbytes ROM 64 Mbytes RAM
  • 2.4″ 240 x 320 touch screen
  • GSM/GPRS (class 10) Tri-band 900/1800/1900 MHz
  • 128MB ROM, 64MB RAM
  • Micro-SD card slot Memory Expansion (up to 2GB)
  • Nominal Talk time 4 hours, up to 150 Hours Standby
  • 2.0 Mega Pixel-Effect camera with 5x digital zoom
  • Bluetooth® v1.2
  • USB1.1
  • Environment
    My usual enterprise environment exchange 2003 server using exchange activesync


  • Size: it’s tiny, really compact
  • Looks: I’m a fan of the matt black finish of the JAMin and the JAMA has the same styling
  • No Lights:

  • No sign of life: the JAMA has no visual indication that it’s on, no LEDs no lightsn no nothing. After my experiences with the ATOM this was disconcerting, I like a flashing LED at least to let me know the device is still alive.
  • Battery life: I got a day’s use of the JAMA but that was it, I’d hope for a bit better, I know it’s small but you need more juice than this
  • No WiFi, 3G and only USB 1.1: I suppose this is down to the size of the JAMA but I can’t help feeling it’s a retrograde step.
  • Lowlights:

  • Flaky software: the JAMA hung far too often and refused to come back from the dead after I cleared the memory of my data prior to sending the JAMA back.
  • Erratic Bluetooth: possibly another symptom pf the same problem however the JAMA’s Bluetooth just kept shutting down and a reboot was necessary to get it back sometimes.

    The JAMA 101 is a really really good looking device, a great size, great finish and a real tactile feel; it looks the entire world like a smaller version of the JAMin.

    The JAMA is a real eye catcher and elicited a great deal of comment, it’s a very compact and attractive device, the matt black finish is traditional i-mate and the JAMA sits nicely in the palm.

    i-mate JAMA 101 next to HTC TyTN II

    i-mate JAMA 101 next to HTC TyTN II

    Form Factor – The design cues
    Physically, notwithstanding the keypad and the slight difference in screen size the two devices are identical the arrangement of ports and buttons follows the same scheme on both the x150s:

    Simple LED notification at the top – strangely inactive on the review device

    i-mate JAMA 101 top view

    i-mate JAMA 101 top view

    MicroSD card slot cover and external antenna on the left hand side

    i-mate JAMA 101 left side

    i-mate JAMA 101 left side

    Stylus, camera button and volume rocker to the right

    i-mate JAMA 101 right side

    i-mate JAMA 101 right side

    Headset and USB sockets covered by plastic flaps, Mic and reset buttons to the bottom

    i-mate JAMA 101 bottom view

    i-mate JAMA 101 bottom view

    The keypad is set out logically

    i-mate JAMA 101 keypad

    i-mate JAMA 101 keypad

    And the expected camera and self portrait mirror with handsfree / audio speakers to the rear

    i-mate JAMA 101 back

    i-mate JAMA 101 back

    The JAMA has the nice high impact matt black plastic finish no fingerprint problems here.


    The JAMA is a bit light on connectivity options, GSM and GPRS not 3G and HSDPA and no WiFi USB 1.1 not 2.0, I suppose this is the price you pay for the compact form factor but I think the omission of WiFi in a non operator device is a disappointment.


    Frankly the JAMA was a bit flaky in operation, the processor and memory are a bit under specced the device came close to a reset a couple of times, but never actually needed one.


    Despite its compact side the JAMA is well laid out the only criticism I have is that the camera button is a bit too central and you obscure a fair bit of the screen with your hand when using the camera. The screen is small and the onboard keyboards need the stylus for successful operation.

    Look and Feel

    The interface is pretty much vanilla Windows Mobile 6 Professional, there’s an i-mate themed today background but nothing fancy, if you are used to the WM6 interface then there are no surprises here either.


    There’s nothing unusual in the loaded applications on the JAMA the only surprise is the profile controller which allows the user to assign profiles much as in windows mobile 6 standard phone devices.

    i-mate JAMA 101 settings

    i-mate JAMA 101 settings

    Profile controller is pretty self explanatory

    i-mate JAMA 101 profiles

    i-mate JAMA 101 profiles


    Stability was a little disappointing, the JAMA locked up a few times but came back), when handling documents the device grinds a little, never actually needing a reset but very nearly getting the stylus treatment a couple of times. The biggest problem for was Bluetooth which kept turning itself off for no apparent reason a real pain when driving and using a headset.

    Overall Assessment

    The JAMA was a real pleaser initially and the styling certainly gained a positive reaction, however the lack of 3G and WiFi were a bit of a disappointment and with continued use the lack of visual notification and the fiddly on screen keyboards were a bit of pain. I wouldn’t replace my current devices with the JAMA at the moment but with an update to iron out the stability issues the JAMA could be a real winner.

    Review by: Alasdair

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    Posted in: Reviews
    By April 9, 2008 Read More →

    Garmin XT review

    Devicewire have kindly sent us a review copy of Garmin Mobile XT. Since the biggest player in sat nav no longer bother with our industry, it’s left to the others to put together decent sat nav solutions for phones and PDAs.

    Garmin is one of the bigger names, and the latest release has plenty of nice features. Installation is nice and easy providing you use the original microSD card, or the supplied card-size adaptors. I have been using the Garmin software with the memory card installed in my Nokia N95 8GB. We’ve since found out that Garmin wont allow you to transfer the software to another memory card, in case you need a larger one, which means you’ll have to card swap if you have stuff saved on another card. Garmin – you need to sort this out!

    The install size is on the large side – so there really isn’t much room on the supplied card for much more.

    Installation and setup is a breeze, when you insert the memory card the software automatically starts up and installs. After that I simply enabled “Integrated GPS” and off it went. Similar options are available for Garmin Bluetooth, and Other bluetooth gps devices.

    Down to business then. The startup time is not particularly quick – in fact it’s quite slow on the N95 but I’m told that it’s much quicker on Windows Mobile devices. However once running, things seem quite fluid. The main menu, and most of the menu area is pretty simple. However I would say that the Garmin boys really need to do more design work as, compared to other sat nav products out there, the UI isn’t very pretty.

    Garmin XT main menu

    Garmin XT main menu

    The GPS signal is shown, with options for tools and settings and a quick link to the main map screen.

    Garmin XT settings

    Garmin XT settings

    The “Where to?” screen looks somehow worse than the main menu – horrible white backgrounds, incomplete titles for buttons, and changing font sizes. However, despite the bad looks, it is quick and easy to understand.

    Garmin XT where to?

    Garmin XT where to?

    The software really falls down on inputting an address – it’s just too long-winded. Firstly, despite being the “GB and Ireland” version of the software – the country selection screen has “England” or “Spell”.

    City selection is similar, and combined with Postcode search – and seems to be fairly quick. You can either type in a postcode, or search for a city and then find the street.

    The built in POI seems to be fairly well researched, and in plentiful supply. Weirdly, they are helpfully located within the “Food and Hotels” section(!) – I have no idea what was wrong with “POIs” like everyone else uses!

    I easily managed to set up a route, and proceeded to mess around and go the wrong way. It copes admirably and recalculates routes quite quickly.

    Garmin XT map view

    Garmin XT map view

    One nice feature I found in Garmin – Free traffic information! – via GPRS, so required a nice data package and compatible phone – but free all the same. It’s a bit more limited than other sat nav packages, and won’t update mid-journey.

    However, it’s a nice free service – but perhaps this could be improved in future versions. I’m not sure where the traffic information is sourced from in the UK.

    As with many sat navs, the 3D interface looks pretty cool, and is a decent representation of the road ahead. The view will zoom in and out, depending on both speed, and whether there are any turns required ahead. Although this sounds similar to TomTom, Garmin really zooms out – big style. It seems that it will zoom out until the next turn is visible on screen.

    Routing options are available, but again seem to be hidden away, with no way of forcing it to ask me every time whether I prefer a short, or fast route. It does have extra routing functions for different types of vehicles – an area where it easily beats TomTom software.

    Another cool Garmin feature is “Track logs” which as you might guess, tracks your every move to the SD card, allowing input into Google Earth and other mapping tools. It will also allow you to replay a route. This single feature could be a winner for a lot of people – since TomTom have never bothered with it.

    Simulate route is Garmin’s carbon copy version of TomTom’s fantastic “View Route Demo” function. However, although it works well, is very annoying having to turn off GPS whenever I wish to use it. I’m not sure why.

    The Garmin XT software has a couple of key selling points:

    Free Speed Camera updates forever! – TomTom charge about £50 a year for this feature and with the Mobile XT it’s free. With TomTom’s version as well it’s not that accurate when driving down a road with a camera near by. Garmin can work out what road you are on and if there is a camera on a road close by it ignores it.

    Another thing that could be useful that’s included is the ability to SMS your location to anyone – those with Garmin Mobile XT installed will see the option to navigate direct to the person who sent the message – those without the software will get the lat/lon position that can be put in to Google Maps or similar.


    Garmin Mobile XT is a good piece of software. It works on all sorts of devices from a single card. Granted there are some differences between versions but it does mean that changing your phone or PDA probably wont mean having to buy new sat nav software.

    My criticism is sadly due to the lack of thought put into some of the design work, and default settings. The navigation screen also updates far too slow – sometimes, but not always, to the point of being useless. This does depend on the device though – and you will need a decent CPU on board to get the most out of it.

    However, what makes Garmin get a positive conclusion from me, is purely and simply the price. £50 is cheap, and makes Garmin XT very much a bargain purchase. It’s no TomTom, but since that company has all but ditched mobiles and PDAs, it’s good to see Garmin have stuck around, and are improving their software with each release. If you are buying your first GPS enabled device then adding Garmin XT to your purchase is an inexpensive way to get started with proper sat nav software.

    When you consider the cost of the Garmin XT software and the fact that weather and travel features are included free of charge then it’s well worth considering!

    Review by: Mark

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    Posted in: Reviews
    By April 9, 2008 Read More →

    Living with the HTC Shift (Part 2)

    Second day in and the HTC Shift is still impressing, at least part of the time.

    The HTC Shift is still with me, managing to replace my laptop for almost all of the regular daily functions, there are a few things that are a little annoying.

    I’ve recently bemoaned the fact that the OQO e2 had a capacitive pen rather than an actual touch screen I have to admit I was wrong and OQO were right.

    The HTC Shift is equipped with a fully touch screen, great when in windows mobile as with your thumbs you can access the entire screen no problems. Email triage is easy as you like just a couple of thumb touches to get rid of the chaff from your inbox its great.

    Using the tablet features are no problem as the handwriting recognition panel means it’s simple to enter even cursive text however when using OneNote with a fully sensitive screen or any application that doesn’t use the input panel unless you hover your hand over the screen in a cramp inducing posture you end up with scrawls all over the screen. A Capacitive pen would solve this problem to be honest this means that using the Shift for note taking in meetings isn’t as simple as I’d hoped.

    The keypad is still too fiddly, so much so that I’ve taken to using my stowaway Bluetooth keyboard for more accurate and comfortable input, I will persevere but it’s not as usable as I’d hoped.

    Battery life is also a problem using vista for even 30 minutes you lose a great deal of your windows mobile time, you need to have the power supply to hand as even with less than an hour of Vista use you get less than 24 hours windows mobile use.

    This sounds like I don’t like the Shift, however for such a compact device it’s managing very well, the niggles are just that, niggles and the Shift is performing above expectations. Despite the little issues the HTC Shift is still winning for me.

    Part three soon.

    Go back to Part 1 or on to Part 3

    Posted by: Alasdair

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    Posted in: Reviews
    By April 8, 2008 Read More →

    Sony introduces MDR-NC500D noise cancelling headphones

    Noise cancelling headphones are not exactly a new concept but Sony have just introduced the world’s first digital noise cancelling headphones, the MDR-NC500D. Sony claim that these are the first headphones to use digital technology with Artificial Intelligence.

    These full sized headphones can hardly be called discrete and wont be everyone’s cup of tea but for those that commute on noisy trains or planes they may well be worth a look, or a listen.

    You can find out more by reading the press release from Sony below:

    Sony MDR-NC500D headphones

    Sony MDR-NC500D headphones

    Now travellers can enjoy their favourite music in absolute serenity, with the world’s first digital noise cancelling headphones from Sony.

    Whether you’re a frequent flyer or train commuter needing to shut out engine noise – or just keen to reduce distracting sounds at work – the new MDR-NC500D cuts an incredible 99% of ambient noise while bathing you in supreme hi-fi sound.

    The MDR-NC500D represents a radical departure from conventional noise cancelling headphones. They’re the first ever headphones to use digital technology with Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve noise cancellation performance while ensuring optimum audio quality.

    A powerful processor inside the MDR-NC500D automatically adapts the cancellation profile to suit the characteristics of ambient noise. In normal use, pushing the ‘AI Mode’ button makes the headphones select automatically from three cancellation modes to suit the surroundings – whether on an aircraft, a bus or train, or in the office. Alternatively, pressing down and holding the mode switch allows the user to manually select the cancellation profile that’s most effective in their environment. A monitor switch is provided for temporary listening to external sounds like cabin announcements.

    Class-leading noise cancelling ability is complemented by superb reproduction. Generously-sized 40mm drivers deliver an extended frequency response, high signal to noise ratio and excellent dynamic range.

    With a generous 15 hours of operation between charges of the supplied lithium ion battery, the MDR NC500D shuts out distracting noise for the longest continental flight or train journey. For extra convenience, it can also operate using disposable AA cells if you don’t have a charging point handy while you’re travelling.

    The premium protective travel case provides a handy pocket for storing your MP3 player or passport and storage for all the components that support these headphones.

    Also new from Sony, the sleekly-styled MDR-NC40 offers excellent noise cancelling performance with comfortable extended wear. The light, space-saving folding design is ideal for travellers and commuters who want to enjoy quality audio with great isolation in an affordable, sleekly styled package.

    Posted by: Matt

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    Posted in: News
    By April 7, 2008 Read More →

    Living with the HTC Shift (Part 1)

    Part one of my daily report on HTC’s Windows Mobile / Windows Vista Hybrid

    I’ve been looking forward to this review for a while, ever since the Shift was announced I’ve been eagerly awaiting it’s arrival at Tracyandmatt towers. Well late last week it arrived and I’ve had the weekend to start to set it up as I’d like. This week I’m going to try and use the Shift as a laptop replacement and give you daily updates on my progress.

    So part one of living with the shift:

    The shift is not quite what it was made out to be, I’d been expecting a device with Vista and full Windows Mobile 6 as oppose to windows sideshow. As widely reported elsewhere what you actually get is Vista and a cut-down version of Winmo called Snapvue which actually doesn’t do too much more than sideshow and email. There’s no browser, no office mobile, not really much of anything at all. Paul over at MoDaCo has fiddled with his Shift and managed to restore a semblance of the full winmo experience however I’d initially decided to try and get on with Snapvue, but all too quickly decided that I couldn’t.

    The idea of the suggested week long standby Winmo device which I can use for a great deal of my daily routine was just too appealing (you don’t get a week either) so on went Paul’s liberate pack to restore the start menu, explorer and office mobile. It’s a breeze to do this, following Paul’s instructions it takes about 20 minutes to sort it out and you get a system that will really do most of what you want.

    Other additions are:

    Under Vista:

  • Microsoft OneNote 2007
  • Microsoft office 2007 professional
  • Microsoft Groove 2007
  • Skype (works very well with the built in webcam)
  • Sophos antivirus ( the included trend micro internet defence reports that the CPU on the shift is up to the task when you try to install it)
  • The licensing situation is a bit sketchy at the moment as it’s unclear if HTC have actually paid Microsoft for full Winmo, if they have and have decided to cripple it so badly by implementing Snapvue that’s actually even more incomprehensible. In any case this is being typed in Outlook 2007 in Vista so no naughtiness here. 🙂

    The keyboard is quite fiddly, too fiddly perhaps, the keys are pretty small, I haven’t tried handwriting recognition for any length of time just yet, the biggest problem however is the fact that when I’m using the top row of the keyboard my fingers keep catching the bottom of the screen and moving the cursor to a different part of the document I’m working on, I’m sure I’ll get used to this over the week.

    Size is pretty good, the device is a little heavier than I expected but it feels very sturdy and looks like it can take a bit of a battering.

    So far the device has performed well, vista doesn’t grind, at least not yet (aero is off and the windows experience index is 2.1 based on the CPU) , the shift experience has been a happy one so far.

    Watch this space for more updates!

    EDIT: Part two of the Living with the Shift series is now live.

    Posted by: Alasdair

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    Posted in: Reviews
    By April 6, 2008 Read More →

    Sony A820 Walkman review

    Can the new Sony A820 MP3 player restore the Walkman brand name to its former glory?


    Back in the 1980’s everyone had a ‘Walkman’. The name itself was used to refer to all personal cassette players in much the same way as the iPod name seems to be used today to refer to all MP3 player devices.

    The A820 isn’t Sony’s first Walkman branded MP3 player but previous models seem to have gone under the radar. In fact it wasn’t until i started my research for this review that I realised just how many Walkman branded MP3 players Sony had released over the past few years. So could this latest player be the one to put Sony back on the map?

    Sony A820 Walkman

    Sony A820 Walkman

    What’s in the box?

    If you’ve seen my Sony A820 Walkman unboxing video you’ll know that I’ve been looking at a pre-release version of the player that came in a plain white box. Although the A820 hasn’t made it to retail just yet you can expect to find the following in the box:

  • The Sony A820 Walkman
  • Sony EX headphones
  • Mains charger
  • USB Sync/charge cable
  • Software CD
  • Printed user guide
  • It has been suggested elsewhere that the A820 may ship with a set of bluetooth headphones although it’s not yet known if this would be standard equipment or if there will be a basic and a deluxe package.

    Sony A820 Walkman specification:

  • Sony EX series in-ear buds with 13.5mm drivers
  • 50.2 x 93.9 x 9.3 mm
  • 58 grams
  • 2.4″ QVGA LCD display (320 x 240 resolution)
  • Integrated FM tuner
  • Video playback of 30fps
  • 36 hours of battery life for audio playback
  • 10 hours of battery life for video playback
  • Built-in noise-canceling system (up to 75%)
  • Bluetooth A2DP technology
  • Compatibility with WMA-DRM, WMA, AAC, PCM, MP3, MPEG-4 and JPEG file formats

    The A820 is a fairly converntional looking MP3 player. We are obviously looking at the black version but once released the A820 will also be available in white, silver and pink.

    On the front of the A820 you’ll find the basic controls. There’s a d-pad style navigation control with play/pause button in the centre. Either side are the home/back and power/option buttons. These controls take up only a small amount of space below the 2’4″ QVGA display.

    Sony A820 Walkman controls

    Sony A820 Walkman controls

    The bottom of the device is home to the headphone socket which is a standard 3.5mm jack socket so you’ll be able to use your favourite headphones. Also on the bottom is the proprietary sync/charge connector.

    Sony A820 Walkman bottom

    Sony A820 Walkman bottom

    On the right of the unit are the other controls. Here you’ll see an up/down rocker for volume control, a bluetooth button and a lock switch. The bluetooth button enables the bluetooth connection to a paired device while the lock switch disables the other buttons to stop you accidentally turning the device on or off.

    Sony A820 Walkman right side

    Sony A820 Walkman right side

    There are no other buttons or controls on either the top or the left of the device.

    The only other button is on the rear of the device. It’s a simple reset button that you’ll need either a pin or a sharp pencil to press.

    Sony A820 Walkman back

    Sony A820 Walkman back


    When unboxing the A820 the first thing that struck me was just how small and light it is. It sits quite comfortably in the palm of your hand with all of the important buttons laid out so that you can reach them easily with your thumb. Although one thing to mention here is that the A820 is definitely designed for right handed use. Not a bit deal perhaps but the volume control is on the wrong side for left handed use. I mention this as I’m a lefty!

    As I mentioned earlier, the package I received from Sony was a pre-release PR model so the package contents will differ slightly to the ones supplied. For example there was no manual or getting started guide in the box I received. To be honest I didn’t really need these to get up and running. It’s pretty easy to plug in the USB cable and connect the player to a PC. Having done so the Walkman is detected as a media player device and I’m offered several options, one is to browse and upload music. All I did here was open the device up in My Computer and drag and drop the files on the music folder on the device.

    File transfer time was reasonably fast thanks to the USB 2.0 connection and despite me wanting to copy several gigabytes of sample music to the device this was done in just a few minutes. This is a good thing as this was the 16GB model, plenty of room for my limited music collection, but there will also be 8GB and 32GB models in the future.

    Once you power the device up everything is laid out in a nice simple format. The main screen has just 9 icons that you can navigate easily with the d-pad style control. The icons include settings, photos, videos, music and Bluetooth. Using the various options is quite intuitive.

    The other thing that impressed me about the package from Sony was the fact that a pair of Sony MDREX85LPB In-Ear Headphones were included. These really are excellent headphones and normally cost over £35 on their own, that said, these headphones actually out-performed my expensive Etymotic Research headphones to the extent that I went out and bought another set of the Sony’s. I just hope that Sony include these headphones in the retail package!

    Sony MDREX85LPB

    Sony MDREX85LPB headphones

    The Sony EX headphones, coupled with the A820 make a great combo. and I didn’t realise just how bad MP3s sounded on my old MP3 player until I used the Walkman. Despite using exactly the same MP3 files the Sony is seems much more capable of playing them back than some other players that I’ve tried. One of my colleagues commented that the sound was much clearer than his iPod Nano and asked where the Walkman could be purchased.

    The A820 isn’t just an MP3 player though. One of the reasons Sony has included a 2.4″ QVGA display on the device is that it’s also designed for playing videos. I have to say that the TFT display on the unit is striking. It’s bright, sharp and evenly lit.

    Having downloaded a few sample MPEG-4 files from the web I have to say that video play back is impressive, there are no signs of motion blur as a result of poor refresh rates. I’d also say that the screen quality surpasses that of the Sony PSP. Clearly Sony has learned something since they made the PSP!

    With 16GB of storage space at your disposal you’ll be able to get a fair few hours of video on there!

    Setting up the Bluetooth connection on the A820 is also a breeze. You simply go into the Bluetooth menu and create a partnership with your Bluetooth audio device. I used my Philips Stereo BT headphones and they worked very well. A few people asked me whether or not you can transfer audio files to the Walkman over a BT connection. I tried this a few times and wasn’t able to make this work. This is a time when the manual may have been helpful. I’m still not sure if you are supposed to be able to do this but I wasn’t able to.

    So on to the battery life. I used the A820 for just over 2 weeks for around 3 to 4 hours a day. During that time I only had to charge it twice. However, during the time I used it I didn’t use BT while listening to music so you should expect battery life to be quite drastically reduced if using BT and further reduced with video playback.


    The Sony A820 Walkman is a great example of a device where the whole really does exceed the sum of its parts. There are literally hundreds of MP3 players on the market but few offer such a comprehensive list of features and even fewer are able to excel in each department.

    I really enjoyed using the A820 but to be honest it’s been quite difficult to put my finger on the real reason that I like it so much. It’s fairly nice to look at, has a good screen, good battery life. It comes with excellent headphones and sounds great. The menus are easy to navigate and use and it’s dead easy to find that track you are looking for. Perhaps the real reason for liking the A820 is that it does all of the things mentioned above in such a small package weighing just 58 grams!?

    If Sony can release the A820 at a realistic price-point then I think it will be a winner. If its price in on a par with the likes of Apple and SanDisk then I will definitely be considering one myself!

    Review by: Matt

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    Posted in: Reviews
    By April 5, 2008 Read More →

    Windows Mobile 6.1 video

    Just a few days ago we were talking about HTC’s WM6.1 announcement but (naturally) the folks at Microsoft have gone one better and have recorded a nice 40 minute video that showcases all the new Windows Mobile 6.1 features and capabilities.

    Windows Mobile 6.1
    Windows Mobile 6.1

    The video is definitely worth watching, you can find out about:

  • The new Sliding Panel home screen (aka “Bronze”)
  • All new home screen plugins
  • Threaded SMS
  • Copy & Paste support for non-touch devices
  • New Task Manager
  • Clock & Alarms
  • Windows Live and Live Search Mobile
  • Posted by: Matt

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    Posted in: News