I saw the reference to shuffle play on a reseller's webpage so I read through the instruction manual a second time and sure enough, there it was. There's a lot of stuff in the manual I don't fully understand yet, but I guess I'm going to have to figure it out soon. I'm most confused by the recording section, and how it uses two different levels and then mixes them together, or something... The playback section seems pretty straightforward so long as you watch out for the maximum number of files, follow the folder structure and write files to the card in the right order (if order matters to you).
If I compare the Sony to the AK100mk2, which was another option, we get this:
Full size SDXC slot
Plus a stack of pro level recording features and the built in microphones (so I can attach it to my DSLR as an external mic for shooting home movies, even if it makes me look like a nerd).
Micro SDXC slot
erm... (I may have missed something to be fair)
Not only that but I found the Sony for £559, which is £140 cheaper than the AK100 - so it was a no-brainer really.
Remote control trumps a better interface (for me), and I just use my phone for audio on the move so size and fragility (of the mics) doesn't matter. The one thing the Sony lacks is the ability to recharge batteries in-situ, meaning I'll have to use two sets and swap them over every morning (or when I use it). That's not ideal, but I see why they did it.
The thing that made me jump now was finding the Sony for about £520 last week, only to discover the price had shot up to £750 this week. As the other site still had it at a lower price I didn't hesitate any longer. I don't know if Sony are putting pressure on the retailers, if there was an introductory offer, or if it's just popular, but that's quite a price hike. A third site always had it at £750, so I'm guessing that's RRP (although I just checked now and its gone down to £722). What is it with the pricing on these things?
I'll certainly put it through its paces and compare the Sony's line out to the Hugo's line out, although I believe in letting stuff burn in so I won't be making any definitive comments for a few weeks yet. I'll let you know how I'm getting on though. As a source I'm putting it up against a Macbook Pro with Decibel (and my memory of Amarra, which was better than Decibel but fiddly to use), plus a Win8.1 PC with a SoTM USB card and SoTM battery pack. The latter is my best source, but subject to AC quality variation as the core PC is plugged into the mains. The Macbook runs completely on battery and is therefore more consistent, but it sounds a bit grey and flat with Decibel. If the Sony can match the PC at 2am, or the MBP with Amarra, then I'll be a happy bunny!
Edit: I forgot to add, the Sony also has adjustable pitch and speed, plus a variety of EQ modes including custom EQ. I won't be using any of those, except maybe out of curiosity, but they're there in the manual.
Edited by Stormfriend - 5/12/14 at 4:32pm