[56K] Sony Network Walkman HD One


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IK47

I?ll try to create a review that is not alike those found around the net; those which are uninformative and vague. I?ll take you through it, just like how I went through it. From my perspective.

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Unfortunately, due to its incompatibility with several older versions of Windows as well as Mac OS, BestBuy (the only good electronics company in Canada) no longer stocks this product. The product I bought was the only one of its kind available in a FutureShop retail store (a chain owned by BestBuy). There were 4 left online, however I dislike buying things over the internet as shipping is often inconvenient for me. I sent for the HD1 to be picked up for me. After tax, the bill came to $402CAN.

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Upon receiving and opening the product, I was disappointed to find blemishes on the metal as well as near-invisible scratches on the acrylic. I can forgive the scratches, as they are merely tool marks only visible under my 200W fluorescent desk lamp, and are probably present on all the HD1s, however the blemishes are definitely a defect and makes this particular HD1 deserving of an exchange.

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The HD1 comes with a USB 2.0 Dock for charging and for data transfer (shown later), an AC adapter, a USB 2.0 Cable, standard length headphones and a tight-fit micro-fiber case.

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The included case is not suitable for practical use. A proper case can be purchased from the Sony Store, or Online. This case?s insides make it difficult to put the player in the case, and to take it out. However, it allows you to control the player through the case. If one were to buy a remote, then this case would be ideal, as it is very slim compared to the other cases you can find.

The American version of the HD1 kit, which I have, does not include the in-line remote which in included in the Japanese and European models. I am glad of this exclusion as the type of remote that would be included is not the type of remote that I like. This keeps the price low, and allows me to buy the remote I prefer from eBay.

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[This is the given remote.] [This is the remote I prefer.]

The main difference between these 2 remotes is the way the headphones connect to them. The newer in-line style is supposedly more natural. However, I prefer the version with an inclined headphone jack. This allows the remote?s topside to conveniently host a pause/play button. Supposedly, the remote I like has a more intense backlight, and supports Kanji, while the other doesn?t.

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As visible in the photo, the main control dial consists of 5 buttons: Pay/Stop, F/FF, R/RW, up and down. At the bottom of the device is a hold switch to prevent accidental operation, as well as a battery cut-off switch for when the unit is being stored for over 3 months. This switch is to protect the inner battery from degrading. You can also see the propriety connecter for data and power. This is the same connecter used in the HD2 and HD3.

Here are some different perspective shots from after I polished the screen:

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Here, the headphone and remote jacks are visible. One of the things I have always likes about Sony is that they use Gold connectors in their products, unlike many other companies. The volume, menu and mode buttons are here. The top of the HD1 is not flat, but contoured. The buttons sit higher than the jacks do.

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On the right side sits the neck / wrist strap loop. The HD1 is definitely light enough to wear around one?s neck with a neck strap. Nothing extraordinary, but at least it?s there, unlike most other players (H10, iPod, etc). One flaw is that the strap loop is on the wrong side of the player. If one were to install a strap, it would interfere with your hand, and also the player would hang upside down. This is not a crushing flaw, but rather something that 99% of people would not notice. The entire body from side to side is one continuous piece of metal, but only the front and back is brushed.

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The acrylic portion of the player follows the curve of the left side for a few millimeters. There is one screw on either the left or right of the player.

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On the backside are 2 impressed logos, and 3 stickers. From past experience, I know that removing these stickers will leave an invisible residue that will never come off. There is a gray plastic part near the bottom which helps the HD1 stay stable in the cradle in case of an earthquake, tsunami or obese man attempting to run. Around the connector port is a piece of soft plastic glued on. This is removable, but should be kept to minimize scratches on the dock.

The HD1 is a very well designed player. Not only does it look good, and feel good, it costs $30 less than an Apple iPod. At this price, the HD1 is a steal.

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Construction

The dock that comes with the HD1 is very slick and compliments the player very well. The colour of the dock is the same as that of the PSP. The dock is very light, and allows the HD1 to connect to power and to a computer via USB 2.0. The dock clicks on the HD1, and requires you to press the silver release button to remove the player.

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A Sizable Dock

The back of the dock is where you will find the ports for power and USB 2.0. It would have been nice to see Sony add iLink support in addition to the USB. Although USB 2.0 is rated to be faster than Firewire 400, its data transfer is in busts, and not constant like Firewire?s. If Sony had added iLink Support, then we would be seeing more constant fast speeds. The HD1?s USB 2.0 connection is by no means slow. Data travels to the device at around 8MBps.

One major flaw in Sony?s design is that you need the cradle to charge and to transfer data. Always needing the dock is a negative for those who constantly travel. If a cable connecting either directly to the player or the dock was provided, this problem would not be. Luckily for those who own an HD1, the dock is surprisingly light, and barely takes any space. Unlike the other Sony NW-HDs, the HD1 / HD2 is the only one with a cradle.

It is a common misconception that the HD1 requires the AC adapter in order to transfer files. Attempting to do so without the Ac adapter results in the player showing a ?Please enter AC? screen, however will still allow you to transfer data.

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Angle shot!

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***...See Below for 2nd Portion...***

Edited by IK .:. 47
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IK47

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Let?s talk about sound quality. I am personally very sensitive to sound, and will not tolerate low bit rate media, or poor equipment. The sound quality of this device was pretty good. Normally high-end players sound very good, and this one is no exception. Keep in mind that I used the stock earphones, as I have not got around to buying any in-ear ones. Keep in mind that although I said that the sound quality is pretty good, it is not the best. The reason I can justify this is because of the size of the player. Squeezing a 20GB Hard Drive as well as good audio circuitry is not an easy task. My analysis may be incorrect, as I listen to many hip-hop mix tapes, which are often low quality. The HD1 has customizable EQ settings as well as a surround simulator which I find enjoyable.

The HD1 has an unparallel 30 Hour battery life. Compared to the competitions pitiful 12 and 15 hours, the HD1 is a marathon runner. Unfortunately, my HD1 has a stale battery that only last 7 hours. This is definitely not a problem that anyone else has experienced, so I am sure that my HD1 is a defected product both inside and out. 30 hours is enough to listen to all week, and only charge on week ends. I listen to my players on the road, in class, and while biking around; battery life means a lot to me.

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The Menus of the HD1 are very easy to navigate. Many other reviews will compare it to other players and say that the HD1?s menu is complicated, but I think that it is the most practical for an audio device. With the HD1, every option is only 1 or 2 strikes away. Unlike other audio players with features tucked away in over-organized menu?s, the HD1 has everything readily available. I recommend trying the HD1 before buying it, as it seems that there are a few people to prefer the more minimalist menus better than the ?power-user? style of the HD1.

Extra Features? Not Applicable. The HD1 does nothing special. No colour screen, no Camera, no Text reader, no Movies, no Photos, no Games, no Nonsense. This is what an audio player should be. However, you have the option of choosing a positively or negatively shaded screen as pictured below:

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Early HD1s do not natively support MP3. You must convert from MP3/WMA/etc to ATRAC3plus. Although Atrac3plus is actually better than MP3, it has no positive effect if all your music is already in MP3. Newer HD1s come ready to play MP3 right out of the box, while older ones need to be sent to Sony with $20 to install a chip and upgrade the firmware to be able to play MP3. My HD1 is unfortunately the older one. If it weren?t for the fact that mine is defected, I would definitely send mine in to Sony. Sony sends a $25 certificate for their online music store, so your $20 does not go to waste. The point here is that it takes HOURS to convert a collection to Atrac. This is a major turnoff for those who can?t find a new HD1, or won?t send their HD1 in.

On top of the Atrac situation, the SonicStage software is terrible. Often, while transferring files, it will crash due to memory error, or freeze up when importing songs. This software is unbelievably annoying considering that it is the ONLY software you can use. This software is not even Mac compatible.

If you can get past this hurdle, you are home free.

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Don?t let the shot angle fool you, the HD1 is A LOT less than half the size of the PSP.

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Conclusion:

+ Sony

+ Good Looking

+ Sound Quality

+ Durable, Scratch resistant

+ Good Price

- Acrylic can get scratched

- Early versions don?t support MP3

Sound Quality (8/10)

Build Quality (10/10)

Design (8/10)

Style (9/10)

Usability (3/10) (SonicStage kills the score here. Everything else is OK)

Value (7/10)

Overall (8/10) (Not an Average)

Suggestions for next time:

- Use Drag n? Drop with support for every format

- 40GB model

- USB host for use with PSP

- Include a remote

- Include a tough case

- Use oLED

- Use iLink

- Replace the Acryllic with Sapphire Glass

- White Remote / Headphones

- Features (colour, FM, Line-in, Voice, etc.)

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Liquid

Great review! I was thinking about purchasing this player to replace my iPod.

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bob_loblaw

Beautiful device, but way, way out of my price range...maybe in a distance future

Great review!

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Bhav

that thing is beautiful. but i'll probably get the HD5 if i get an mp3 player, because it supports mp3s by default, and it has battery life that just pwns ipod.

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Fit4130Rider

Very nice review with lots of pretty pictures. I may have to look at Sony MP3 players next time around seeing as I just got my Zen Micro (absolutly fabulous).

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Randolph

Damn. AWESOME review!

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IK47

Thanks guys.

Bhav, Im actually thinking about getting the HD5 too. the HD1 is no longer available, therefore I am forced to refund my defected unit.

The HD1 is small, sexy, and sony. Three things that I like.

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Elmo

great review

really covered everything (Y)

i am really tempted to buy one of these

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y0sh

Thanks gunbuster. Been looking for that.

HD1 is nice, but my HD3 is nicer. :D

Although I like the remote + cradle that comes with the HD1/2.

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  • 2 months later...
IK47

I could have gotten the HD3, but there are many things that the HD1 has that the HD3 does not.

A thinner body

A magnesium shell (AFIAK, the HD3 is Aluminium)

A dock

yeah, so the HD1 is nicer :smile:

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Homer

*hugs his HD5*

Owns my iPod right out. :D

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skybl4ck

Nice review :D Mines coming in the mail today, will post pictures for fun.

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ahhell

Holy crap that is expensive. It looks like its gonna scratch like a bugger too.

Doesn't support MP3?!??! WTF is that?? God I hate Sony and their proprietary crap.

I still will never understand why anyone needs 20GB of music.

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skybl4ck

Its in canadian right? An iRiver can't be that expensive, expecially for only 5 gigs. It does support mp3 if you can get it upgraded through firmware.

Some people may not ever need 20 gigs of music, but its nice to have such a large collection in one place.

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IK47
*hugs his HD5*

Owns my iPod right out:D:D

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Mind posting some pictures of it? I liked the look of the HD5, but have never seen it in a non-productshot picture.

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riahc3

Why is it called Sony Network Walkman?

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+Peewee210

Damn!

That is a Fantastic Review (Y)

Well Done Dude :happy:

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  • 1 month later...
IK47
Why is it called Sony Network Walkman?

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I honestly have no clue.

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s0nic69
Beautiful device, but way, way out of my price range...maybe in a distance future

Great review!

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i agree, and to add, i have a Sony MD player, its great, so im a huge fan of sony players because of it, and this one looks great.

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golazo
Why is it called Sony Network Walkman?

maybe they think that could get it a extra 20 bucks lol.. does look damn sexy though

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deuz

:cool: gah pics didnt load...........cool review none the smae

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PeterClark

ATRAC makes it one of the most pointless MP3 players ever

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skybl4ck

well, you don't actually have to convert to atrac. sony offered a firmware upgrade for the player allowing it to play raw mp3s.

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