Anyone Thinking about the New Sony HD5 Mp3 Player?


Oct 26, 2001
i've just finished a stint of promo work for Sony and their new HD MP3 walkman. it was a great opportunity to road test a product before purchasing it. and they also asked me to write a review of the product for them, which i've included below.

what i really hate as a consumer is that british car show Top Gear. i fell in love with that show as soon as i saw it. and i cant find any other equivallent show or web site for that matter that takes the same attitude in reviewing products.

every web site i go to, gives these really glossy reviews that lack any real substance. and you often have to wade through forum after forum to get a decent idea of the product your about to purchase. why?


I’ll try and avoid making comparisons between the Sony and the Ipod as the Ipod is the most popular but a useless hunk of junk that really cant compete with any other real mp3 player on the market (they make cool ads though).

Its been great being able to test out the Mp3 player (along with the other products) over the period of time as I’m in the market for a HD based MP3 player. It’s a shame as a consumer you cant test out a products like this for a few weeks before you buy; I guess there is the option of renting which I will be taking very serious in the future after my experience with these product.

The Good:

This is probably the smallest HD based mp3 player that I’ve seen. I was surprised by how small it is. And it fits in the pocket with ease, even if I put it in its protective case. That is a huge bonus as there are some mp3 players on the market that only just fit in your pocket and will rip it (the pocket that is) if you try to put it in any sort of protective covers.

The USB connection on the player like all the other Sony products is like any other generic USB connection making it compatible with any old USB cable you have laying around the house. Any device that has a proprietary based USB connection is effectively as useful as shooting yourself in the foot. So this is another surprising bonus from Sony.

The main body of the mp3 player is metal, and feels a lot more stable and sturdy and that it will last. A shame about the plastic bit on top.

The removable battery is awesome. There is very little point in purchasing a device with a non-removable battery.

The Line out option is awesome and very handy for applying the mp3 player to different situations

The Bad and The Ugly:

The Sony Mp3 player has a few design features that will become problems in the future. The plastic on the top of the player will scratch and damage with ease. And the plastic slide cover for the USB and Power supply will snap off with ease as well.

The volume on the player is quite low and you have to disable the Acoustic Engine to get the volume to a higher level.

The player crashed on a few occasions and I was unable to turn it off without pulling out the battery.

The single biggest problem with the Sony Mp3 player is Sonic Stage. This is one of the worst pieces of software I’ve ever had the horror of installing onto my computer. Usually this sort of stuff would be put into the same basket as a virus, but without it I couldn’t use the mp3 player.
Its processor intensive, it used so much processing resource on an AMD Athlon XP 2400, it would sometimes crash. Thankfully I’m running Windows 2k so it wasn’t able to crash the whole machine. I also tried it on a diff machine running the new Windows Media Centre with worse results; it just crashed the whole machine. But at least it wasn’t as bad as the Handycam software; which force me to reinstall Windows Media Centre completely.
Sonic stage is a joke. Its meant to be a database. A record of the location of mp3 files kept on my computer and then converted to whatever format the Sony mp3 player needs to play them. I can understand the conversion taking up a little processing resource but just simply searching for mp3s and even just selecting a large number of them would start to make the program run slow.
Short of a virus this is the worst piece of software I’ve ever had on my computer and easily the worst I’ve intentionally installed on my computer and as such I would never purchase this mp3 player for this main reason.
When I asked the Sony reps why you couldn’t just use windows explorer, they explained that this was because Sony didn’t want to make it too easy for people to copy mp3s from computer to computer. Yet in the first place; they informed me that it’s actually illegal to copy any music within Australia rendering the mp3 pretty much useless. Yet its still being sold here and it still comes with software that allows you to copy mp3s onto it. Just not quite as easy as a Creative.
That makes no sense what so ever and I guess if you have a Sony computer it would work fine, other than that it’s useless. And cumbersome, the way in which the database manages mp3s and doesn’t allow the user to organise them in their own way unless they make a play list is annoying. The only thing about it that was any good was allowing you to convert your CD to Atrac and onto the mp3 player.
Atrac is a redundant media format, since it’s a proprietary of Sony its fairly useless and no matter how great it is it will always lose out to a free medium such as: mp3. which is a shame because it seems pretty cool, apart from its aforementioned weakness.
I recently spoke to another mate of mine who was given a smaller Sony 256mb flash player for his birthday and the first thing he said to me “SONIC STAGE!!! Oh man what’s with that? I hate it!”


What makes a brilliant HD mp3 player:
· Removable Laptop HD
· Removable Battery
· Small
· No colour screen
· No need to use the useless software that comes with it because it works fine with Windows Explorer: that’s where Creative kick the competition
· Remote Control
· Tough Durable Design
· Back Lit Screen
· Good Sound Quality
· The ability to use it as an External USB HD
· Easy to use controls
· Cost effective to repair
· Long lasting warranty

Now out of all the HD based systems on the market the Creative Zen would be one of the main contenders that comes close to satisfying the most of the criteria on that list.
· It is fully compatible with Windows Explorer; just drag and drop your mp3s onto the player. Sony is not
· The HD is a Laptop HD and can be easily replaced with another one, it also has the same a protection system which works in the same way as G-Shock: don’t have any idea how easy it would be to replace the Sony HD, but I imagine it would void the warranty if you did it yourself and would cost a lot to have it done by a repair agent.

After testing this product, I have come to the conclusion that I would be thoroughly disappointed if had paid for this product. I personally wouldn’t purchase one unless it was under $100.
Sony seem like the sort of company that are quite good at marketing but fall down when it comes to delivering something of value.
As a “very fussy eater” when it comes to these things, I expect nothing but the best and would be more than happy to pay for it and if its not delivered then I won’t hold back. As I see a continuing trend of companies that take years to “get it right” on purpose; it gives them an excuse to bring out a new range each year making it just a tad better than the last one. This as a consumer can be extremely frustrating. And I can see this path happening with Sony. Their last HD based walkman was a joke that only played Atrac until they offered a recall to have it handle mp3 because they were losing out to everything else and it had to be cradled to transfer data, oh and it had an internal non removable battery.

Unfortunately there is nothing in the market in the HD section of 20gb’s or more that is satisfactory. All you have to do is jump on the internet and look at some user forums and you can find problems with any HD based player on the market. What does this say? Stick to the Micro Drives and Flash, personally the Creative Zen Micro seems like the leader in the pack. It’s just a shame they couldn’t keep the same standard going with the Creative Zen 20gb. As for Sony? I don’t know many people who would argue with the quality they “used” to produce in the past. Who can forget their first walkman? I purchased one of their first Mini Disk walkmans and loved it until I hit the brick wall of trying to get it fixed for less than I originally paid for it. And by then the replacement options were of less quality than the one I had. Since then I’ve seen Sony crash in the portable music department. They came so close with this HD walkman but its being held back by the companies fight against the mp3 market, and I cant see them coming back until the Zen’s, Iriver’s and even the Ipod’s of the industry really stick the nail in the coffin in the next few years.


Nov 2, 2005
ive been looking at sony mp3 players for a while. sony stuff still seems to have better quality and are built better and more expensive. the hd5 actually has already been taken off the japanese sony website. im wondering when they are gonna bring the new models to the US and everywhere else. personally i think the new mp3 players look really cool, although i dont really know much about the stats of the products