Sony X-Series Walkman
Does it kick the iPod into touch?
Review For the last few years, Sony has applied its iconic Walkman brand to Sony Ericsson products and performed sterling work in developing sound quality and user friendliness in media playing mobile phones. The new X-series Walkman has no phone element whatsoever, but it does have an OLED touch screen, built-in Wi-Fi for Internet access, video playback and an FM radio.
Sony's X-Series Walkman available in 16GB or 32GB capacities
With its capacitive touch screen, the X-series Walkman Sony is clearly gunning for the iconic iPod Touch. They are, however, different beasts. The X-series is considerably smaller at 98x53x11mm – the iPod Touch measures 110x62x9mm – but the Sony model also has a 3in, WQVGA 432x240 OLED screen, rather than Touch’s 480x320, 3.5in LCD.
The X-series comes in two flavours, the 16GB NWZ-X1050 and the 32GB NWZ-X1060. Encased in glossy black plastic on the front and back, there’s a sort of stone-effect surround on the sides, which makes it easy to grip, and also gives an impression of ruggedness.
There's a large home button on the front in the shape of a semicircle and on top there are hard controls for play/pause, FWD and RWD, plus another semicircle button on the back for locking the controls. On the sides are the volume rocker and noise cancellation button. The proliferation of hard buttons seems a bit cluttered when compared to the iPod Touch, but they do provide the option of controlling the device while keeping it in your pocket.
OLED screens are being touted as the next great leap forward for TVs, with their enviably sharper resolution, faster rendering speed and wider viewing angle, but those benefits aren't quite so obvious on the very small screen. Watching the same video concurrently on Walkman and Touch however, Sony’s OLED screen is clearly superior – sharper, with richer colours and more precise definition. That said, we did find ourselves wishing it were a little bigger though.
Get stoned: mock ruggedness from Sony's earthy styling
The noise-cancelling function does work, and can come in handy for blocking out ambient noise on an airplane or train, though it’s not as effective as some of the systems we’ve tried on full-cup headphones. Moreover, this feature will only work with the supplied headphones, which aren't bad at all, if perhaps a little weak in the bass. Using alternative headphones is easy enough, as the X-series features a standard 3.5mm mini jack socket.
Even if I had some sort of bias towards Sony, that is my right as a consumer, and visitor of this website.
I was under the impression that reviewers were supposed to be pretty impartial about what they say. Say what you want, the review sounded very Apple-friendly to me - I appear to not be the only other commenter to notice that either - maybe you should lace some other barbed comments their way too.
@ Robert – the Walkman will read MP3 tags, and organise files accordingly. Or you can organise your files into playlists.
@ Anonymous Coward – no, you can't stream iPlayer content over Wi-Fi, you need to side load it from your computer. You can use other noise cancelling headphones with it – but in that case it won't be the noise cancelling that's built into the Walkman. As for the other stuff, perhaps you'd have preferred a longer review?
@ Scott – I'm hardly Apple-biased, I don't even own a Mac. I do think the iPod has achieved iconic status in terms of portable music, just like the Walkman used to be, and may possibly be again if it keeps improving. Also, I made it clear in the review that the Walkman sounds better than the iPod Touch, or was there not enough Sony bias for you?
Noise Cancelling Headphones
So you only get the noise cancelling using the supplied headphones?!
I think that some of Sony's advertising may be a bit misleading in this department as I initially believed that the noise cancelling would happen on any headphones attached, your review is however correct.
Seeing as the headphones are usually the first item broken/replaced on a portable stereo, there seems to be no availability of replacement headphones with noise cancelling.
Shame really as it's not a bad attempt, especially as Apple are so sure that no one wants FM radio.
@Robert E A Harvey
"stream .ra from iplayer over the wifi?
make sheduled recordings from the FM radio? While you are listening to something else?
I notice it does not include DAB radio, an increasing omission in consumer gadgets. I reckon DAB is dead if it can't be crowbared into something like this."
Fuck me dead, you don't want much do you?
Doesn't include DAB radio? Hasn't this system just been abused with stations using poxy quality settings such that sound quality is often perceptibly worse than FM?
Take a look at this page...
especially the bit about the new DAB+ standard. Maybe that's a good reason why nobody's bothered yet? DAB is dead. Creation of DAB+ will see to that. Australia for one has gone with this so it seems that the UK was too early an adopter or went in half-arsed and it's now fallen by the wayside/taken off too late.
In the end this is a bloody mp3 player and it does the job exceedingly well. Maybe they should reduce the price a touch but I think people's expectations are getting as out of hand when it comes to features in technology - a bit like house/share price expectations were. The old "if it doesn't <insert ridiculous expectation here> then I certainly won't be buying one" tripe.
If it doesn't have the kitchen sink functionality that you deem necessary then don't buy it but please leave your unrealistic expectations/marginal requirements at the door.
One thing it should do is force Apple to up their game to keep ahead and, as a consumer, that can only be a good thing.
ok, but what about...
screen rez and colours? detailed video file support? DRM support for iPlayer? support for subtitles files? Actual battery life (33/9 are Sony's figures!), does it come with/work with Sony's iTunes Media Transfer Tool? Can you set up playlists or synch them from MTP media players? Can you bookmark video/audio files? How does it cope with various aspect ratios? Does DSEE work with video playback or just audio? Oh, and how does the touch UI actually work? 2/10. El Reg usually does -much- better.