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Death to DRM
on December 27, 2007
If you are looking for an audiophile's review, go check out the review on the NWZ-A816. As for me, let's just say my RCA Lyra (the first one) has served me just fine over the years for what I've needed, until recently, in an portable player. But needs, and collections, grow until it seems like everyone has an iPod but you.
However, the iPod did not stir that "gotta have" feeling. And iTunes... bleh. Then I came across a blurb on the upcoming release of this Sony Walkman series. What's that you say? No DRM or extra software required (so long as you can get what you have into a supported format)? The write up was Windows-biased, and yet there seemed hope for the Linux (and OS X) user if you read between the lines. So while waiting for the actual release, and confirmation of specs, admittedly a small trip down memory lane with a girl just knee high and her first Walkman was taken. I was hooked enough to bite.
Luck was with me and I am not left with a bad taste in my mouth. Even though the packaging and manual fairly scream "Windows only", and very specific versions at that, the device was beautifully recognized on my Fedora 7 box... well, once I plugged it into a USB 2.0 port. Up popped the new device window, opened the auto-mounted disk, and there were the "Music", "Picture" and "Video" folders. Drag-n-drop some of my MP3s, ripped from CDs I own thankyouverymuch, and we had sound, beautiful sound.
No problems with creating folders under "Music", if you are an organized sort. If you like video, then mencoder or ffmpeg will be your friend. Just look for the tutorials on converting for use with iPod or PSP and make sure you have the latest versions of mencoder or ffmpeg (options change slightly over time). Display orientation of the video can be changed to three different positions - up, left, and right.
Specific file music formats supported, as listed in the manual, are: MP3 (MPEG-1 Layer 3), ASF, MP4, Wave-Riff; and the detailed list of music codecs then follow: MP3, WMA, AAC-LC (excluding copyright protected), Linear PCM. For video the specific file formats listed as supported are: MP4, "Memory Stick"; and the detailed list of codecs follow as: Video - AVC (H.264/AVC), MPEG-4; Audio - AAC-LC. It can display JPEG photos too, in DCF 2.0/Exif 2.21 file formats.
The unit itself is small, but solid feeling. Controls give a good tactile feedback. Volume and EQ settings are quite satisfactory for my needs. Navigation is straight forward. I normally despise ear buds, but the ones included are very nice, comfortable in-the-ear-canal though you'll think the cord split placement is odd at first.