Sony X Series NWZ-X1050

Blog Andy Shaw Feb 18, 2011

A look at Sony’s latest handheld entertainment device

Pros and Cons

Product Pros: Excellent sound and vision
Small and pocketable
Great value for money
Product Cons: Not as sophisticated as an iPod Touch
Wi-Fi-enabled but weak at web browsing

Sony’s Walkman brought music to our ears when we were out and about in the Eighties, but the Japanese entertainment giant lost ground to Apple’s iPod when portable music turned digital. Now Sony is throwing everything it’s got to get back into the game, with an iPod Touch-a-like device that aims to pip its rivals to the post in a few key areas – particularly with its  audio and visual output.

Features
There are two stand-out features on the X1050. The first is its 3in OLED screen, which offers sharp, colourful pictures for videos and photos. Secondly, it comes with superior earbud headphones, which can be used with the device to cancel background noise if, for example, you’re on a train or a plane. It’s the first time we’ve seen this kind of technology in an earbud.
Like the iPod Touch, it’s internet enabled, though it’s not as comprehensive as its rival – browsing isn’t such a great experience and it’s really just designed to facilitate the downloading of media onto the device via its Wi-Fi connection, rather than offering serious access to the web. However, you can use it to watch YouTube videos and download podcasts, which is handy.
The version we reviewed came with 16GB of internal memory to store music on. There’s also a 32GB version, should you need the extra space.

Performance
When it comes down to it, this device is all about the sound and the screen and, if you buy it with that in mind, you won’t be disappointed. The supplied earbuds are excellent. They sit comfortably in the ear despite (or, perhaps, because of) their slightly unusual shape, and even the noise reduction proved effective on public transport. The screen, meanwhile, is a joy to behold. With a resolution of 432 x 240 pixels, it’s smaller than the Touch (the unit as a whole is smaller), but it’s crystal clear nonetheless.

Ease of use
Playing music and video is very straightforward, and the touchscreen lets you scroll through available options with ease. However, things start to get a bit trickier when you access the browser because you have to type in addresses using a multipress system – the kind you get on mobile phones – so some letters require several taps as you scroll through each button’s options.
You have to press a button to rotate the screen from portrait to landscape mode too, as the device doesn’t automatically sense which way you’re holding it. Meanwhile, the smaller screen constrains the browser option – zoom in too close and you’ll be furiously scrolling left and right, just to read a single line on a website. Zoom too far out and the text becomes illegible.
This is all missing the point a bit, though. If you want to browse the web, get a different device – this one is for listening to music and watching video.

Value for money
Sony doesn’t quote suggested retail prices so we had to shop around on the web. The best price we could find for this 16GB model at the time of going to press was with Amazon (www.amazon.co.uk), which was selling it for £165 – the same price as an 8GB iTouch.