Sony X Series Walkman
The Zune HD is Microsoftís highly credible response to the iPod Touch. But Microsoft and Apple arenít the only two consumer electronics giants in town. Who could forget Sony, the inventor of the original Walkman portable audio cassette player? No-one, and sure enough since April 2009 Sony has had a touchscreen competitor to the Zune HD and the iPod Touch: the X Series Walkman.
So what about the X Series Ė did Sony Ďcome to playí with this device? In short, yes. But letís go through and take a look at the X Series step-by-step.
First up, the physical packaging. The X Series comes in a 3.87 x 2.13 x 0.38 inch metal slab with a 3 inch screen. That puts it behind both the iPod Touch and the Zune HD in terms of screen real estate, but on the other hand the device overall is more pocket-able than either of those, and 3 inches of screen is still pretty good, especially when itís as good as this one Ė bright, clear and razor-sharp.
External controls include play/pause and track shuttle buttons and a volume rocker and hold switch. Those who donít like touchscreen devices where everything is controlled via the touchscreen will like that these tactile controls are included, and itís true that they make blind operation (for example when the device is in your bag or pocket) a lot easier.
Physically, the X Series is above all a glossy, sturdy and weighty device that leaves you in no doubt as to its design pedigree when you handle it.
Onwards and upwards. One of the best features of the X Series Walkman is the way that it uses its built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. It has a basic web browser, so you can simply surf if you want to, but for some internet applications you donít have to as theyíre built-in. YouTube is one, but the more interesting application is Slacker. For those who donít already know, Slacker is an internet music service where (after opening an account) you can choose from over 100 expertly put together Ďvirtual radio stationsí for your device. Then, every time you wander into a Wi-Fi hotspot, the radio stations automatically refresh their content (and are cached on your device). New, free music? Itís a great option to have on a portable music device, no question.
If you donít want to use Slacker or want to listen to your own music as well donít worry, because the X Series supports a variety of formats including MP3, WMA, AAC, and WAV.
More good news arrives in the form of the sound quality that the X Series produces. Audiophiles will find the clarity, definition and balance here that some think are lacking in the iPods, and that may be reason enough alone to tempt some people away from an Apple product. The icing on the cake is that the X Series Walkman includes built-in noise-cancelling with the supplied headphones, and the cherry on top is that the headphones are actually pretty good, unlike almost every other pair of headphones that are sold with portable music players.
Rounding off the X Series Walkman package are an FM radio tuner, podcast support, sound enhancement options, great battery life, a great navigation system and easy content transfer.
If the Sony X Series Walkman is at this point starting to sound too good to be true, donít worry, because hereís something that brings it back into the realm of the possible: the price. The current retail price for the 16GB is around $262, and for the 32GB model itís a frankly painful $338. Still, that puts it on par with the iPod Touch, and for what you get thatís only fair. For those who are more interested in media (particularly music) playback as opposed to having a Ďdo-it-allí device, the Walkman X Series is an excellent choice.