Sony Walkman NWZ-ZX1 pictures and hands-on: The High-Res Audio player that costs £550

Sony has refreshed its high-end Walkman media player range with a new flagship device that is aimed at the audiophile. The Sony Walkman NWZ-ZX1 is capable of playing High-Resolution Audio alongside the usual suspects of audio, video and picture files, such as MP3, MP4 and JPEG. That means it can play back music and audio as it was originally recorded and is not restricted to the CD quality specifications of 16bit/44.1kHz like other players.

It can play files encoded at up to 24bit/192kHz and while it's not the first Sony player capable of such a feat - the NWX-F886 can also cope with High-Res playback - it has a much larger hard drive, so can store many more tracks than its stablemate.

The NWZ-ZX1 has a 128GB drive, which is quoted as being able to store up to 800 High-Res Audio tracks in several file formats, including FLAC, Apple Lossless, linear PCM, non-DRM AAC-LC and more. That's if you can source that much material. There's a digital upscaler on board too, in order to make your existing MP3s and the like sound their best. And CD quality rips will sound like the CDs themselves.

Like many of Sony's other devices this year, the new Walkman is NFC-compatible so you can tap it to a NFC-enabled wireless speaker to instantly pair the two via Bluetooth. It is also powered by Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, so can also utilise apps.

The most impressive feature, though, apart from the audio performance, is its build quality. The player has a brushed-aluminium surround that is made from one piece of metal with a rubberised back. It feels chunky and substantial - more so than any competing device.

The Sony Walkman NWZ-ZX1 will be available from February for £549. You can find out more on Sony's website at sony.co.uk.



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