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Old 07-23-2009, 09:01 AM
thoots thoots is offline
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Default Returned X1061 / Final thoughts vs. A729

Well, yes, I returned my X1061 to the local SonyStyle store from which I bought it a week ago. I'll go over my reasons why, and give you some thoughts about how it compared to my A729, which I will "soldier on" with:

The main thing to understand about my usage is that it's probably WAY, WAY DIFFERENT from most anyone else. I use my MP3 player almost exclusively for providing background music in my office cubicle -- I'm in a building that just does not get radio reception at all, so I wound up getting an MP3 player to do the job. I've gone through a few different things over the years, but the A729 did a fine job -- I pop the A729 into its dock, and leave it AC powered full-time. It's plugged into a top-line Yamaha mini stereo system, and I listen to it at very low volumes -- just barely audible above the background noise, so the rest of the office isn't hearing what's going on in my cubicle.

So, the whole concept of "listening through earbuds" just isn't something I'm doing. Virtually not at all. I'll listen that way every now and then, just as a lark, or if I'm working with it while updating the songs on it, etc. I've never gotten into "better earbuds," because it's just not worth the money, as I just don't use them hardly at all.

OK? That said, here's my X1061 story:

So, in "normal music listening" usage, the X1061 has this incredibly great OLED screen. Which you virtually never see. It lacks the A729's New Song Pop-Up feature, so once it goes dark, you've got a lifeless, dark brick sitting there until or unless you interact with the thing. And it certainly doesn't have the ability to keep the screen lighted full-time, like the A729 can -- and that's how I've used it since Day One, since I've got the thing AC powered full-time.

And that's what really bugged me about the X1061 -- dang it, I just want to glance over and see what's going on from time to time. So, that's why I returned it, plain and simple. I also am not one to appreciate the infernal difficulty of using a touch-screen interface -- "iPod-itis." All of this pushing and pushing and pushing again just to get it to do anything, all of this "missed it, try again" BS -- geez, just give me a DANG BUTTON, will you?? The A729 is such a pure, simple joy to use in comparison that it's just not even funny.

So, 400 bucks is a lot to spend if I'm not entirely happy with the thing, so I returned it. SonyStyle refunded my money with no hassle whatsoever -- it couldn't have been smoother. I'll just put those bucks back in the bank, and keep on cruising along happily with my A729. If Sony ever makes a 32-gig version of the A or the S series, I may well jump on that in a minute.

I'll end this with a bit about "sound quality," and I've got to say that I thought there was a VAST difference in sound quality -- the X1061 was just amazingly cleaner and more detailed than the A729, with an incredibly noticeable better "stereo separation" over the A729. Though, that's comparing the two players through "the earbuds that came with them" -- and the big thing to comprehend here is that the X1061's lofty price includes some SERIOUSLY good earbuds. And if you haven't grasped it yet, those earbuds have a plug with a couple of extra contact bands, so it's a proprietary thing that works specifically with the player's noise cancelling function.

So, if I were indeed listening through earbuds, like I expect most of you folks do, I probably would NOT have returned the X1061. Its sound quality is just absolutely amazing. That said, I presume the A729 can sound heaps better with some seriously good earphones, perhaps to the point of competing quite well against the X1061's sound. I'm sure that other folks can say plenty about that. But for me, the sonic bottom line is that I'm definitely not listening to the player's ultimate sound quality as it plays low-volume background music. And I still probably won't ever go buy some seriously good earbuds, since I just wouldn't spend any time using them to listen to the player.
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