This 2GB A Series player is the latest version of the Walkman (cling on to that seminal product name, Sony). And accompanying its birth is the sweet stench of botched software death.
In the NWZ-A815 and all new Sony Walkman players you'll find the bearable Windows Media Player 11, not the unbearable SonicStage – and, as of now, Sony's Connect music store is on its way out. Rubbish. Bad. Goodbye to.
So now the company has accepted that its software was junk – sorry, is "giving customers flexibility" – Sony can concentrate on what it does best: make utterly excellent portable music machines.
Load some tunes onto the A815 and it sounds exceptional. Music romps along with the furious pace of late-for-work London commuters, making it a thrilling listen.
This little digital dynamo handles frequency extremes with flair (think high treble and low bass), and even low bit-rate tunes sound as good as an ATM churning out twenties.
Switch to video replay and the Sony flicks its aspect ratio to deliver a small but glistening image. There might be only a 2in screen on view, but pictures are punchy, detailed and silky-smooth.
Classy and durable
Even though it's half as deep again as a Nano, the A Series chassis is still smaller than a small thing, and its supreme build feels classy and durable. There's no touchscreen, no click wheel and no fascia clicking – just clearly labelled buttons. And surprise, surprise, it's super simple to use.
Add mitten-friendly navigation and a pleasingly retro look, and you've got your next MP3 player. Or, rather, Walkman.
Decent earphones shock
Amazingly, the supplied buds not only look good but they fit well in our ears and – get this – sound pretty damn fine. Still worth replacing, but Apple could learn a lot here.
We must admit, however, that we do really miss dissing Sony's poor Connect store and SonicStage software. Come on, Sony, do the right thing and bring them back. They're practically retro, man.