Sony – NWZ-X1050 review

high-quality portable media player with built-in wireless
Photo of Sony – NWZ-X1050
£219

Part of Sony’s new X-series of Walkman portable media players, the NWZ-X1050 sports a brand new design and makes a variety of improvements over previous versions.

Things get off to a good start with the 3-inch screen. It has a resolution of 423 x 240 pixels and, thanks to it being an OLED (organic LED) display, it’s both brighter and less of a drain on the battery compared to standard displays. Whack it up to full brightness and you’ll be greeted with exceptionally dazzling images.

A small selection of buttons are dotted around the chassis (including volume, key-lock, etc.), but most tasks are performed using the touch-screen display. It’s extremely responsive and even those with larger fingers shouldn’t have a problem tapping their way through the menus. The screen also recognises gestures, allowing you to flick through photos or albums, for example. However, it’s not multi-touch, so you can’t zoom in using a pinching gesture as with the iPod Touch.

Sony’s Walkman range of portable media players rarely disappoints in terms of sound quality, and the NWZ-X1050 is no different. Slip on the headphones and you’ll be immersed in rich, punchy audio with deep bass and defined high-tones.

Things get even better thanks to the noise-cancelling feature. Making use of a pair of tiny microphones built into the ear buds, the NWZ-X1050 is able to tackle noises such as an aeroplane’s engines and the drone of a high-speed train journey. We tested it out on a car trip and were very impressed at how it managed to suppress the roar of motorway traffic. Sadly it’s not so good at eliminating noises from fellow passengers.

In order to activate this feature, though, you need to be using the headphones Sony supplies. This would be a big problem if they were of a similar quality to the buds you get with most players, but Sony has come up trumps once again by supplying a high-quality set that you’re unlikely to want to change.

Format support is good, with the NWZ-X1050 able to play all the usual suspects including MP3, WMA and AAC for audio, WMV and MPEG-4 for video and JPEG files for photos. Content can be transferred using Sony’s supplied software, but it will also happily hook up to Windows Media Player. Alternatively, you can simply drag-and-drop files using Windows Explorer.

If you’re within reach of a wireless network, the NWZ-X1050 offers a range of Internet-based features. Top of the list is the YouTube player, allowing you to gawp at the latest batch of user-generated videos. When listening to music, you can also opt to head online to look up information on the artist of the track currently playing.

Sony has even bundled in a web browser, although it’s best not to get too excited about this feature. Given the small screen, it’s hardly surprising that navigating full-size web pages is almost impossible, but Sony doesn’t help things by including an impossibly difficult on-screen keyboard. Still, it’s a nice feature to have for quickly checking sports results and news headlines.

Battery life is respectable at a quoted 33 hours for audio and nine hours for video. However, spend your time using the wireless connection to watch endless YouTube videos and it’ll run out of juice far more quickly.

As far as comparisons with Apple go, the NWZ-X1050 is somewhat difficult to place. In terms of features its touch-screen display and built-in wireless puts it ahead of the cheaper iPod Nano, while the similarly-priced iPod Touch is bulkier but houses far more functionality such as a multi-touch display and integration with the App Store.

Company: Sony

Contact: 0845 6000 124


Verdict
We're not fans of the fiddly built-in web browser, but the NWZ-X1050 is an otherwise excellent portable media player. The screen is bright and clear, it's easy to use and, above all, audio quality is simply stunning. If you've no need for the additional features offered by the iPod Touch or simply want a more compact player, the NWZ-X1050 comes highly recommended.