I’ve been using Sony’s atrociously named NW-A55 for about a year now, since April 2020. I initially got it over smartphone privacy concerns so I could jog or go for bike rides in public spaces without my phone. I also missed the simplicity of having a dedicated music player that did one thing well… PLAYING MUSIC!
The other option I considered was an iPod Touch, but I ended up choosing the Walkman for a few reasons:
- FLAC support. If you use a Sony receiver, they have a proprietary Bluetooth connector that allows the NW-A55 to “talk” to the receiver at a high bit rate for turntable-quality music. It was the best option for a high-res music that I found, and the sound quality when paired with a decent pair of headphones is just incredible. iPod / iPhone still does not have any support at all for FLAC.
- Expandable storage. From a financial standpoint, this makes the NW-A55 instantly a better deal than any iPod / iPhone music player. Throw a cheap micro SD card in there and you have 512 GB of storage on the go.
- Adding and removing music is easy and simple. No Apple ecosystem lock-in. Many years ago, it was pretty easy to add music files to an iPod / iPhone. You did have to convert to their AAC format but it “just worked.” Now iTunes is dead and Apple has done everything possible to push users into signing up for Apple Music. The NW-A55 offer a radically simple option: mount the device as a folder! Now you can drag and drop music. There is no management software that you must use to put music on your device. It works flawlessly on Linux as well.
Now for the bad:
- My main problem with this device is that the touch screen is overly sensitive compared to an iPhone screen. I end up making an erroneous button press at least once a week. Sony includes the “Hold” switch to disable the touchscreen while the switch is enabled, but if you’ve ever used an iPhone/iPod the NW-A55 interface will feel clunky by comparison.
- I also find that the buttons are a bit oddly spaced and hard to identify in your pocket. I often have my device in a pocket or armband and I always hit the wrong button when I’m trying to skip or adjust the volume. I’m not sure how this could be rectified, but it’s a recurring annoyance.
- The worst part of this device is the proprietary USB connector cable. No other company on earth uses this stupid cable, so if you go anywhere with this device, you’ll need to bring its special cable if you need to charge it or add/remove data. Literally every other device I own uses standard mini or micro USB connectors. If this device used a standard USB connector, I would have given it five stars.
- Another major gripe is that the device doesn’t de-dedupe tracks when it indexes. This seems like an obvious feature so I’m not sure why it’s not supported.
I feel satisfied with my purchase. The device gets good battery life without draining my phone or using up my data. The sound quality is very good especially with the option for high-res FLAC 24bit format.