Sony walkman s: Sony Walkman & MP3 Players

Sony S-Series Walkman second generation review: Sony S-Series Walkman second generation

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Sony S-Series Walkman

Sony had a major success with the launch of the S-Series Walkman in the fall of 2008. The company stepped up with a sleek and compact device that offered a bounty of useful features along with stellar sound quality and fantastic battery life. As might be expected, when it came time for a second-gen model, we waited with bated breath, expecting something equally impressive or perhaps even somewhat improved. Unfortunately, the exhalation of said breath has emerged as a disappointed sigh. Although the second-generation S-Series Walkman still offers top-notch audio and excellent rated battery life, Sony has hobbled the player by crippling its feature set. The upshot is that this was done in the name of rock-bottom pricing, which makes the S-Series one of the cheapest flash players on the market: you can pick up an 8GB model for $110 and a 16GB for just $130. This–combined with its excellent sound quality and battery life–is the player’s saving grace.

Design and interface
For better or for worse, the second-gen S-Series Walkman is noticeably larger than its predecessor. The nice thing about this is it allows for a larger, more video-friendly screen, and the 2.4-inch QVGA LCD is every bit as crisp, colorful, and bright as before. The bigger chassis also allows for a pair of integrated external speakers that flank both sides of the display and pass through to ports on the back of the device for more air flow (something that generally equates to better sound quality). Of course, this means that the new S-Series is not quite as pocket-friendly as the previous iteration, measuring nearly 4 inches long and 2 inches across, though it is only a fraction thicker at 0.4 inch. Also, because of the speaker placement, the player strongly resembles a cell phone, a fact that may or may not deter some users.

Below the screen, Sony has built in its typical circular control pad: a standard four-way directional button surrounding a central play/pause key. This is flanked by two additional buttons–back (home) and option (power)–which are arranged in such a way that one can’t help but picture Mickey Mouse. Still, the Disneyesque look doesn’t hinder the navigation of the device, which is a breeze. A grid of icons for the main functions makes up the top menu, while the music submenu is handily divided into artist, album, genre, and so on. Playlists, however, are only accessible through a separate, dedicated section, which is a bit odd though not really a navigational hindrance. Unfortunately, the S-Series still does not offer an on-the-go playlist option.

Although the second-gen S-Series Walkman appears to be constructed out of a material similar to what was used for its predecessor, it has a more plastic-y feel that makes it seem a bit cheaper. However, it offers the same shiny, metallic topcoat–in a choice of red, pink, violet, or black–and the player still retains a somewhat sleek and sexy look. We also appreciate that Sony held onto the dedicated volume rocker on the left spine. Here, you’ll also find two switches: one for locking the controls (hold) and another for toggling between speaker and headphone modes. The standard headphone jack along with Sony’s proprietary USB port live on the bottom edge.

Feature subtraction
It would stand to reason that the second-gen S-Series Walkman is probably a few features short of its predecessor, namely because the entry price is significantly lower. We expected, for example, that this player would probably do away with the integrated noise-canceling functionality and the upgraded packaged headphones–both of those extras represent a cost to the company. What is baffling, however, is the fact that Sony also eliminated core interface-based features such as distinguished podcast support and the smart playlist creator, SensMe Channels. Podcasts are now lumped in with the general music catalog and thus have no bookmarking feature and will playback on shuffle–a glaring annoyance. You also won’t find Rhapsody DNA integration, which, while a less surprising omission, is no less disappointing.

These deficiencies certainly mar the S-Series legacy, but the player still includes a fair amount of features for the price. You get support for MP3, secure WMA, AAC, and Linear PCM (Sony’s version of WAV) audio as well as JPEG photo, but again a disappointment here: you can no longer set your own photos as wallpaper. There’s also video playback for AVC, MPEG-4, and WMV, though this is crippled by the fact that the player is very particular about the size, frame rate, and container of video files. However, we do appreciate the support for videos purchased and rented from Amazon Video On Demand.

The S-Series Walkman also offers a built-in FM tuner with autoscanner and up to 30 preset slots as well as a recording feature. And there’s a pinhole mic on the bottom of the unit for taking voice notes, for which you can choose from three quality settings. The external speakers afford a final bonus: you can use the Walkman as an alarm clock and wake up to the radio or a track of your choosing.

Performance to the rescue
Considering how much Sony managed to strip down the S-Series Walkman in its second iteration, it was with some trepidation that we approached the performance of the device. Luckily, it’s going to take more than a severe price cut to infringe upon Sony’s long history of stellar sound quality and long battery lives. The only area that isn’t particularly stunning is the speaker playback, which is rather unsurprisingly tinny and anemic. It’s clear and fairly loud, though, so it gets the job done, and the battery life of 17 hours for audio and 5 hours for video is more than decent.

Naturally, when you listen to the S-Series Walkman through a good set of headphones (the Klipsch Image S4, in our case), the sound quality enjoys a dramatic improvement. Music sounds rich, warm, and defined across genres, with sparkly highs and buttery mids. Bass is punchy and encompassing without being overpowering–it’s just the amount of low-end oomph we crave. The best part is that the device provides excellent audio across a full gamut of genres, which means it would make a great “everyman’s” MP3 player. (And there are plenty of EQ settings to toy with, though no SRS Wow settings here.) Plus, the rated battery life of 42 hours for audio and 6.5 hours for video is nothing to scoff at, and we expect to match or beat those numbers in our CNET Labs testing (check back soon for final scores on that).

Similarly, photos and videos look fantastic on the bright screen, with excellent color saturation, crisp edges, and little-to-no visible pixelation (depending on the original quality of the files). Viewing angles are also great, though you probably wouldn’t want to share for long with such a tiny screen. Finally, FM reception is well above average, and our test voice recordings came through very clear with little hiss.

Final thoughts
The Sony S-Series Walkman offers excellent audio playback, a long battery life, a nice screen, a simple interface, and some decent extras for little money–it’s obviously a great value. Indeed, it’s easy to recommend this player to budget-minded people who are looking for an introduction to the Walkman line. But those who have experienced the previous generation S-Series will be very disappointed by the successor to the line. Although the new version is much cheaper, it represents a diluted version of its former self. In this case, newer definitely does not mean better.

New Sony Walkman music players feature stunning good looks, Android 12

Where do you put the cassette tape? —

Ron Amadeo

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    The Sony Walkman NW-A300. It’s a shame Sony never became a force in smartphones, because, wow, their product designs are still so good.

    Sony

  • Yep, that’s regular Android.

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    The bottom. From left to right we’ve got a headphone jack, lanyard hole, USB-C port, and a microSD slot.

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  • Music buttons! So many music buttons!

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    The back has this nice scallop texture.

    Sony

  • The frame is aluminum.

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    It comes in colors. That gray one really hits me in the nostalgic Sony sweet spot.

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  • There are little folio cases! They are so cute.

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  • The folio case lets it stand up!

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Sony has a pair of new Android Walkmans out, the NW-A300 and NW-ZX700. Yes, that’s right, Walkmans, Sony’s legendary music player brand from the 1980s. Apple may have given up on the idea of a smartphone-adjacent music player when it killed the iPod Touch line recently, but Sony still makes Android-powered Walkmans and has for a while. The first was in 2012 with the Android 2.3 Gingerbread-powered NWZ-Z1000, which looked like Sony just stripped the modem out of an Xperia phone and shoved it onto the market as a music player. Since then, Sony has made designs with more purpose-built hardware, and today there are a whole series of Android-powered Walkman music players out there. Sadly these new ones seem to only be for sale in Japan, the UK, and Europe, for now.

We’ll start with the most consumer-friendly of the two, the NW-A300. This basic design debuted in 2019 with the NW-A105, but that shipped with Android 9. This is an upgraded version of that device with a less-ancient version of Android, a new SoC, and a scalloped back design. In Sony’s home of Japan, the 32GB version is 46,000 yen (about $360), while in Europe, it’s 399 euro (about $430).

The NW-A300 is a tiny little device that measures 56.6×98.5×12 mm, so pretty close to a deck of playing cards. And really, just look at these pictures. Sony might not be the consumer electronics juggernaut it used to be, but it still has an incredible product design department. I have no use for a standalone music player, but both of these Walkmans are so pretty that I just want to hold one.

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The front is dominated by a 3.6-inch, 60 Hz, 1280×720 touchscreen LCD. There’s 32GB of storage, and the device supports Wi-Fi 802.11AC and Bluetooth 5. That’s about all Sony wants to talk about for official specs. It touts “longer battery life” but won’t say how big the battery is, promising only “36 hours* of 44.1 KHz FLAC playback, up to 32 hours* of 96 KHz FLAC High-Resolution Audio playback.” Presumably, that’s all with the screen off.

For more specs, we can visit The Walkman Blog, a wonderful site that is very serious about these little music players. In October, the site found documentation for the A300 listing a 1500 mAh battery. The system-on-a-chip in the older NW-A100 model was the NXP i.MX8M-Mini, a wildly slow 28 nm SoC that has just four Arm Cortex-A53 CPUs and 4GB of RAM. You can say, “This is just a music player,” but that’s not really true since it still runs full Android with an app store and everything. Geekbench scores show this has a new quad-core Qualcomm chip of some kind with 4GB of RAM, but we can’t be sure of the model number. A newer chip with smaller transistors would probably account for a lot of that “better battery life” promise.

This is a music player, so of course, there’s a headphone jack on the bottom of the unit. You’ll also find a spot for a lanyard, a speedy USB-C 3.2 Gen1 port for quick music transfers, and a MicroSD slot for storing all your music. Buttons along the side of the device also give you every music control you could want, like a hold switch, previous, play/pause, next, volume controls, and power.

Sony MP3 Players – Huge selection at the best prices

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Choosing the Right MP3 player

Having an MP3 player can allow you to store and listen to your favorite music albums anywhere and on the go. However, figuring out the perfect device to get can be a daunting challenge especially if you don’t have the right information.

What Should You Consider When Looking for an MP3 Player?

Whatever your choice is, there are a number of considerations you should make before setting on your preferred portable audio player.

  • Memory: The memory space differs from one player to another with the most devices being in the 8 GB to 64 GB range. Essentially, the choice usually comes down to the user storage needs. If you have a large music collection, you should look for devices that offer around 16 GB. This is enough to store over 1500 MP3 songs.
  • Portability: MP3 players come in different sizes. If you move around quite often, you might want to opt for a small and compact device. Also, opting for a flash memory player can make your device more portable and durable. While hard disk players usually have larger capacities, their use of moving parts mechanism makes them more susceptible to skipping and less suitable for those want to listen while exercising.
  • Battery life: Most audio players come with rechargeable batteries. Choosing a device with a quality battery can grant you long hours of music playback eliminating the need to plug in every other hour.
  • Accessories: Digital media players come with different accessories such as headphones or earbuds. Choosing a music player with accessories can eliminate the need to invest in new ones.

What Are the Main Features of Sony Walkman MP3 Players?

Some of the features of the Walkman MP3 players include:

  • Design: The devices come with a smooth and polished design with some featuring a waterproof build. The design varieties on offer are apparent, from the classic build to the all-in-one sport-friendly players.
  • Storage: Sony offers a wide range of storage options with their Walkman series. You are able to choose your preferred storage size from the low-end single GB MP3 player to the expansive 128 GB MP3 player. Some devices also come with a MicroSD slot enabling users to upgrade their storage space.
  • Audio quality: The Walkman players use exclusive Sony clear audio technologies allowing listeners to enjoy Hi-Res sounds. The devices also come with the Dynamic Normalizer feature which balances the volume between songs when listening in the shuffle mode. In addition, they support multiple audio codes meaning you won’t have to worry about the format of your music files.
  • Easy content transfer: Sony Walkman MP3 players come with fast USB support and a user-friendly interface making it easier to transfer media files from computers.
  • Lithium-ion batteries: The players come with rechargeable Lithium Ion batteries able to support hours and hours of audio playback.

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Sony unveiled new Walkman players that combine 80s aesthetics with modern technology

The NW-A306 has the bulky, brick-like shape of the original Walkman and is 12 millimeters thick.

Some might say that our current decade is simply an amalgamation of other decades of the past century. Ranging from vinyl records and low-cut jeans to nuclear tension and the good old space race, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that an established tech company is resurrecting one of its most famous legacy devices. Forty-four years after the release of its original Walkman, Sony has unveiled the NW-A306 and NW-ZX707: a pair of portable music players that combine beloved 80s aesthetics with modern audio technology.

The first of two, the NW-A306, replicates the original Walkman’s 12mm thick milled aluminum 3D brick shape. Its 3.6-inch 1280 x 720 touchscreen offers a maximum speed of 60 frames per second and displays the cassette screensaver in standby mode. The rest of the device’s bezel is taken up by a relatively thick bezel, while the back has a notched design for a comfortable grip.

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NW-A306 has 32GB of storage that users can fill with their music via USB-C 3. 2 Gen1 device port or microSD slot. Users can also download streaming apps like Spotify and YouTube using the Android app store. Sony says the device delivers 36 hours of 44.1kHz FLAC playback and up to 32 hours of high-definition FLAC playback 96 kHz, although this drops to 26 hours with streaming. It is Wi-Fi 802.11ac compatible and you can listen to music via Bluetooth or headphone jack. Buttons on the side facilitate standard music controls such as play/pause, skip forward/backward and volume.

Model NW-ZX707. The more premium Sony NW-ZX707 is much larger and 17mm thick. Its 2.86″ by 5.2″ chassis allows for a larger 5″ display, which sits on a gold-plated copper chassis. This model is equipped with two headphone jacks: a standard 3.5mm jack and a balanced 4.4mm jack for specialized audio equipment. It also boasts twice the storage capacity of the NW-A306, which can be useful for those who want to truly disconnect from the Internet and listen to only their own music.