Since the rise of the smartphone, manufacturers of dedicated music players have been struggling to stay afloat. Consumers simply don't see the need to carry an extra device just for music. Sony is trying to change this with their new Walkman.
Despite seemingly bearing the name of a fax machine, the NWZ-A17 is neither outdated nor old-fashioned. It sports a 2.25-inch anti-reflective LCD display, a 960mAH battery rated for 50 hours of MP3 audio playback, and a microSD slot, lest you manage to fill up all 64GB of internal storage. It's quite a looker, too, with its flashy yet minimalist design. And it's small enough to fit snugly in your hand.
The headline feature is, of course, its ability to play high-resolution, 24-bit audio files. Although some people might not be able to hear the difference between a normal MP3 file and a full-blown Flac file, the improved sound quality is definitely there.
The NFC chip means you only have to tap the NWZ-A17 to speakers to connect them, rather than having to fiddle through the settings and pair the devices manually.
The only minor gripe I have is with the firmware. The menus and settings are somewhat disorganised, and take some time to get used to, especially if you're coming from an Android-based touchscreen device; but with time and practice, you do get used to it.
I feel this device is the beginning of something new. In a few years' time, high-resolution Flac files might become the standard audio format across all devices. While some people might still feel it's not necessary to carry an extra device just for music, Sony's crack at bringing top-quality audio to the masses is quite brilliant.
Pros: high-resolution audio, light, long battery life, large memory
Con: menu could be simpler