Don't support Sony anymore - HORRIBLE tech support
Reviewed in the United States on 10 March 2021
The worst part of this player is their "tech support". They're low level 'technicians' that are basically checklist monkeys. Their job is to follow a flowchart made by some mid-level manager whose real purpose is to do anything to deny there is a problem. I am saying this as an ENGINEER who has written software and created the hardware itself to devices similar to this. Their 'tech support' will find any little detail to avoid taking responsibility... did you connect it to a Sony headphone, did you connect it to a Sony car stereo, did you use the Sony software to load music onto the SD card? Sony's tech support is so bad that I've returned FOUR (4) Sony NW-A55s and ultimately I gave up on them because of software flaws they deny exist yet I can reproduce every time. The last thing they say is that "you're the only one reporting this", which is their excuse to file it away as essentially a delusional customer report rather than them using it to do their own internal testing to replicate the problem. They are relying on the customer to be an un-paid beta-tester or QA department. This is a horrible practice done by many technology companies where you work for them. Back to the NW-A105... I'm on my SECOND device. The first device had the exact same problem yet Sony continues to deny it. They will make you jump through every hoop imaginable to see if there is some way for them to pretend the problem doesn't exist. In my case, the problem is that the device will not work with a Line In device if you start by using headphones first, then connect it to analog 3.5mm Line In on a car stereo. 2 other devices made by Samsung and Apple do not have this problem on this same car stereo but the Sony NW-A105 has this problem every single time. If you restart the device (which you should never have to do, and it takes forever), then it works, indicating that this is a software flaw. Most devices persistently check the 3.5mm jack for voltage and impedance properties to output the proper line or headphone level voltage based on the impendence of the connected audio output device. Laptops, cell phones, tablets, etc. all do the same thing to detect how much voltage they should output. Well, not the Sony NW-105, unless you restart it, which is a software defect that Sony needs to fix. So GOOD LUCK getting these horrible tech support people to get their engineering people to fix problems. Furthermore, they will have you talk to different technicians all of which make you waste over an hour repeating the same thing over and over, across multiple phone calls, to find out that all the prior people you speak to do not annotate things properly in the notes.
The device itself is beautiful. The LCD screen is very nice compared to inferior Chinese competitors. The only thing better than Sony's LCD are Apple's iPod Classic and iPod nano displays which are very bright, with excellent viewing angles, and excellent color. Other competitors such as Fiio are vastly inferior by comparison. The touchscreen is nice. The physical device size and buttons are a dream... compared to other players I've tried, it's much smaller, lighter, and a beautiful piece of engineering. Besides the original iPods with a thumbwheel, it's the only player that can be used without looking at it or touching the touchscreen. This is a big deal if you run outdoors. You can't really screw with a touchscreen interface. If you run outdoors and it's raining, snowing, or just humid, most devices are worthless, but not the NW-A105 (and A55) because they actually have hardware buttons. I can even manipulate the buttons using thing gloves.
I love that it runs Android. Their older model (A55) does not run Android but instead a Sony proprietary OS which is fine except that it doesn't process larger data sets (and Sony refuses to acknowledge this problem). Android doesn't seem to have such limitations with the A105. Sony has their own player software that runs on Android (the same as the A55 actually), which works very well. But, since it's Android you can also use any number of other software players like VLC, Media Monkey, Pi Music player, etc. This is brilliant because you are not limited to the music formats that Sony officially supports, which does not include open source industry standards such as OGG. So, using Android as the base OS and having the ability to load any software on it makes a super-versatile player.
Battery life sucks. It's a small device, with a small battery (so was the A55, which is physically the same size). If you turn of Bluetooth, Wifi, turn ON Android's battery saving function, and keep the screen very dim, you can stretch battery life quite a bit. But battery life can be as horrible as 2 hrs under normal circumstances. Also, if you use *any* audio software to process your music collection (mine is 200GB on a 256GB SD card), it will take hours sometimes. So it must be plugged in or it will kill the battery in no time. I must stress that despite this device's small size, it's a full Android OS computer, so it requires more management on the users' behalf to get acceptable battery usage times from it.
So, the player is very nice. Android is nice. But expect major problems with Sony as a company. They will dismiss your claims and deny there's a problem, just like car manufacturers do. Expect them to waste your time. They *could* just take your report and work overtime to isolate the problem themselves, but instead they will waste your time and use you as an unpaid employee of Sony. Their policies are horrible. Also, expect them to use nuclear options such as restoring the device to factory state, which will consume hours of your time to get settings back to where you want them (it takes hours to read song collections initially). I've now returned FIVE Sony devices because they consistently have the same problems that Sony denies. It's too bad because they have probably the best, or second best product, but their support of it is horrible. Typical Sony. Their engineering department is awesome. The rest of the company sucks and is a huge liability to the hard work of the engineers. Let's see what happens in a couple weeks... will they again say it's a hardware defect, have me return it (more time), get another one, set it up, only to find the exact same problem again (more time)?
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