Much more than just a pair of headphones, this headset doubles as an MP3 player, with onboard memory and speakers. Check out our Sony NWZ-WH303 review
The Sony NWZ-WH303 may look like a regular pair of headphones, but it's so much more. As well as being a standard pair of cans, it has 4GB of on-board memory, so you can load it up with tunes, with no need for a separate MP3 player.
It can even blast songs out of the built-in speakers, if you really want to annoy everyone on the bus. But can it compete with the likes of the Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear in terms of performance?
Sony NWZ-WH303: Size and build
The Sony NWZ-WH303 is a chunky old pair, but then it has to be to incorporate the 4GB onboard memory. Sling it round your neck and the leather earcups are big enough to double as a nice chin rest. If subtlety is your thing, look elsewhere.
We tested the white pair, which was a bit gaudy for our tastes. But it also comes in black.
It's a solid pair of headphones, and feels like it's built to take a knock or two. But it's a bit plasticky, and feels cheap next to the likes of the Bose AE2.
The Sony NWZ-WH303 weighs 292g, which won't be too noticeable in your bag. It's worth noting it doesn't fold up like the Sennheiser PX 200-II or the B&W P3 so it's not the most portable pair around.
Sony NWZ-WH303: Comfort
The faux-leather earcups and headband make the Sony NWZ-WH303 a comfy pair to wear - after a while, you can easily forget you're wearing headphones at all, which is a real plus, especially given how chunky a pair it is.
It also doesn't make your ears too hot after prolonged wearing, which we've found on some other on-ear pairs, like the Sol Republic Tracks HD.
Sony NWZ-WH303: Durability
Despite being a bit plasticky, the Sony NWZ-WH303 feels sturdy enough to survive being chucked in a bag along with your other gadgets. The only delicate parts are the controls on the bottom of the right earpiece, but even they should withstand a fair bit of punishment.
Sony NWZ-WH303: Sound quality
So how does it actually sound? Not fantastic, to be honest. There's a real loss of detail, especially when you play songs through the speakers rather than the headphones. The guitars on AC/DC's For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) sounded very fuzzy, and this was even more noticeable when pumped up loud. Bass is heavy, but lacks punchiness, and the treble is a bit underwhelming.
They let in a lot of background sound too, which is disappointing for an on-ear pair. Walk around town in them, and you'll have to crank the volume up to block out the traffic noise. Switch to speaker mode, and they can go loud enough to annoy the bus, or entertain a few pals. But it's not going to start a party.
The controls are a bit limited. For a start, they're on the underside of the earcup, which isn't the most intuitive place for them. They can only control songs stored on the built-in memory, so you can't use them to control tracks played from an MP3 player.
You can't fast forward within a song either, you have to skip to the next track or folder. You also can't play songs from your MP3 player through the Sony NWZ-WH303's speakers, only tracks stored on the onboard memory. All of which seems a bit of an oversight.
But getting songs onto the flash memory is a doddle. Plug the Sony NWZ-WH303 into your computer, and it'll appear as an external hard drive would. Then you just drag and drop, or install the Content Transfer program.
Sony NWZ-WH303: Verdict
The Sony NWZ-WH303 gets full points for ingenuity, and it's a fair price given that it's effectively three products in one. But it's more of a (headphone) jack of all trades, and master of none.
Sony NWZ-WH303 release date: Out now
Sony NWZ-WH303 price: £99