Hello! I felt that it was vital that I make a Sony Walkman NWZ A17 review because this music player is amazing. It may sound silly to say that it changed my life, but it did. It has everything that I love in a dedicated music player and few things that bother me. Best of all, no touchscreen, which is like putting a turbo-charger on a lawnmower. Overkill.
Why is a touchscreen so bad? Because you can’t memorize distances to songs you like. Here’s what I mean: The artists are sorted alphabetically, so with buttons, you can move to the right letter and eventually remember how far down the artist you want is. It’s sounds like it would take a while to memorize but it doesn’t.
For instance, while driving I don’t even have to look up to change songs—press the right button until I get to the S’s and down 8 to get to Sevendust. You just can’t do that with a touchscreen—there is no tactile feel. Real buttons are better.
Sony Walkman NWZ A17 Review
This is going to be a lengthy review, but there’s a lot to cover with the NWZ A17. First, we’ll go over the hardware bits of the device: storage space; battery life; Bluetooth (that’s right, it’s got Bluetooth); the dimensions and weight; etc.
Then we’ll cover the device software. The way the menus behave, high-resolution audio, the types of audio files, the battery care feature, the sound settings, bookmarks (very useful), etc.
Next, we’ll go over available cases, . When I get small expensive electronics, I want some extra protection for it. I like to know that there is something out there that can keep it safe and make it more useful.
We conclude by going over the pros and cons and talk a little bit about the computer software that Sony has that compliments the NWZ A17.
The hardware specs for the Sony Walkman NWZ A17 are great. I’ll briefly go over what’s important:
- Storage – Alone, this Walkman has 64GB of room and, using it’s MircoSD card slot, it can be expanded a further 192GB for a total of 256GB—more than 10,000 standard quality songs.
- Battery Life – The NWZ A17 lasts 50 hours while playing standard quality songs, 30 hours for Hi-Res music, and around 15 hours when using Bluetooth.
- Weight – This device weighs 2.3 oz. I like lightweight electronics, but without it case it feels delicate—like holding a newborn child.
- Dimensions – It’s roughly 1.7 inches wide and 4.3 inches long. It makes it difficult for me to hold over extended periods because my hand cramps.
- Screen Size – The screen on the Sony Walkman NWZ-A17 is 320 pixels high by 240 pixels wide. You can see six songs listed at a time. Compared with touchscreen music players and phones this is small, but it works well with physical buttons.
- BUTTONS! – It has real buttons that cover basic functions—volume, hold, play/pause, up, down, left, right, back, and options.
- Bluetooth – The ability to use Bluetooth speakers or earbuds is lovely. The problem is that the Walkman has trouble connecting to complex devices. For instance, my friend has a large Bluetooth speaker that sounds great, but when I stop playing music for longer than 30 seconds and start again, it plays nothing. It doesn’t disconnect—just no sound. If you want this just for Bluetooth, be careful.
- Data Cable and Connector – The NWZ A17 uses a non-standard connector from Sony called a WM Port. You better keep up with your original cable or your gonna have to order another. Also, the accessories that would use the data port are limited. They’re out there, but few and far between.
Considering only the hardware, the Sony Walkman NWZ A17 is a marvelous device. Luckily, the software is even better than the hardware. Why is that? Glad you asked.
- Menu Behavior – The menu system that Sony created is superb. Menu transitions are smooth; no lag at all. Song selections are visible when moving through the menus. Sony made good use of screen space, showing the time below song selections and the artist below song choices in the bookmarks menus.
- High-Resolution Audio – Plays up to 24bit/192khz files. In other words, it can play files that sound much closer to the original audio.
- Compatible File Formats – AAC (Non-DRM), AIFF, ALAC, FLAC, HE-AAC, Linear PCM, MP3, WMA (Non-DRM).
- Battery Care – This extends the overall life of the battery by limiting charge to approximately 90%. This prevents your battery from being overcharged and damaging it’s longevity.
- Sound Settings – There are several sound settings available in the Sony Walkman NWZ A17. Here are some I find useful:
- DSEE HX – This is a technology from Sony that attempts to get to the original recording quality of MP3 by “[converting] both compressed sound and CD-quality sound (uncompressed or lossless 44.1kHz/16bit) to near hi-res quality sound by recreating higher frequency signals and finer signals”. They have largely succeeded. Very noticeable in complex music.
- Clear Audio+ – This is an equalizer and a little bit more. I won’t’ lie, I have no idea whats going on behind the scenes. However, it does bring out the lower notes and makes all of the instruments and sounds more distinguishable. Try it and see if it fits your music. I like it for metal, but not classical.
- VPT (Surround) – This adds a surround sound effect which seems to spread out the different instruments in the stereo recording. There are several options, studio, live, etc. I only use this when I am trying to use hear a specific instrument in a song.
- Bookmarks – My favorite feature on this device (besides real buttons). You get five bookmark lists can hold 100 songs each. I use these as playlists that can be edited from the player. For instance, I use bookmark list 2 for my workout playlist. As I’m listening to music and I decide I’d work out to it, I can just add it to bookmark list 2 and move on. If I’m working out and I’m bored with a song I can remove it on the spot. Or I can clear the entire list and start from scratch.
- Saves Navigation – What does that mean? Well, say your listening to something and you back out of the ‘Now Playing’ screen and go to a different song. As your waiting for your current song to finish, the screen goes black to save energy. In previous versions of the Walkman, when you pressed a button to wake it up, it would go back to the ‘Now Playing’ screen, but now it stays right where you left it. This goes for anywhere you navigate. This seems small, unless you’ve had to go back and forth every 10 seconds while waiting for a song to end.
Because this device is so fragile, it’s a great idea to get a case. I haven’t thrown it against a wall for a durability test, but let’s assume. There is a case from iGadgitz that I highly recommend and use which comes with screen protectors.
I warn you that it is hard to get in and out of the case. We don’t want it falling out, but it does cover up the MicroSD slot. If that’s a problem for you, you might try one of the silicone cases from iGadgitz.
If you want a case just for running or working out you can get that too. It wraps around your arm. And, of course, you can get extra data cables of varying lengths as well as a rapid charger with a wall plug.
The Walkman NWZ A17 is truly a high-quality device. It’s easy to use, holds tons of music, and it affordable compared to other devices. And as we discussed, it has buttons. What’s not to love? Well, only a couple of things. It has Bluetooth capability that has trouble with complex devices. It also seems fairly fragile and it has non-standard data connector. After that, it has everything else going for it!
One thing we haven’t talked about is the software that Sony—and I—recommend that you use for the Walkman, and that is MediaGo. MediaGo is Sony’s version of Windows Media Player, except better. If you would like to read more about it, you can go here.
Please, if you have any questions about the device or your thoughts on it, let me know in the comments below and I’ll be happy to discuss it with you. Until next time!