updated 08:40 pm EST, Wed January 7, 2009
Sony Walkman X and W
As part of its CES campaign, Sony on Wednesday updated the Walkman line with two models that enter uncharted territory for the company. The Walkman NWZ-X1000 is its first touchscreen media player in North America and aims squarely at the same field as Apple's iPod touch or the Samsung P3. The player claims a much more vivid picture through a 3-inch OLED touchscreen which is both more color-rich and quicker to respond than LCDs. Sony also asserts that the X series is easier to control as it has hardware side controls that can be used in addition to finger input.
Again like its close competitor, Sony also includes Wi-Fi and uses it to fill out the device's experience, with a web browser, podcast downlading and YouTube letting owners use it semi-independently. New to any player, Sony says, is a new, purely digital noise canceling that blocks ambient sounds in software rather than relying on potentially expensive hardware. A bundled pair of in-ear EX headphones add passive noise reduction of their own.
The X continues Sony's recently opened-up support for AAC/MP3/WMA audio and MPEG-4/H.264/WMV video, and should be system-independent. Sony doesn't plan to ship the X series until the summer but promises 16GB and 32GB models.
Runners and other exercisers are being directed towards the NWZ-W202, one of the few if not only screenless Sony music players available; it builds a music player directly into a set of earphones and thus eliminates the usual cord. Like the iPod shuffle, Sony mitigates the lack of a screen by implementing controls for semi-random playback. A pure shuffle mode is available but can be assisted by a ZAPPIN system that plays short samples of each track until the wearer stops at a preferred song.
While battery life is curbed to 12 hours on the W, a quick-charge mode gets about 1.5 hours of playback after just three minutes of power. The lone model carries 2GB of music and will ship in April for about $70.