Donald and Jasmine discuss the new S-Series Walkman and the latest trend of on-device music recommendation features that cater to your inner couch potato. Plus, our thoughts on microSD as the next music medium. Listen now: Download today's podcastEpisode 115
Music can be a powerful emotional and psychological trigger for many people. Heck, it even has a physical effect on people--anyone who can't help but tap her feet and nod her head when listening to an infectious beat can attest to that. For precisely these reasons, many die-hard music fans will spend hours on end creating the perfect playlists for lounging, working out, commuting, and generally affecting mood and motion. Unfortunately, many of the rest of us don't have the time--or desire--to create all the specifically tailored playlists we could ever want. So what's a casual listener to do?
Luckily, many device manufacturers have gotten hip to the fact that there's a significant number of music fans who want reasonably personal track lineups presented to them without all the time and hassle. Several MP3 players released in recent times offer various smart DJ functions that go beyond ID3 tag recognition and individual user play count. All of the options below feature music recommendation functions that can be utilized completely on-the-fly, without connecting to a computer.Apple iPod Nano: The Nano's new Genius feature lets you create an instant 25-song playlists around the musical characteristics of a single song (based on data gathered from iTunes). The Genius feature is easy to use, and the results are fun, provided your music collection holds enough songs to make interesting connections. You can save Genius playlists directly onto your Nano, and with automatic syncing enabled in iTunes you can also transfer them back to your computer. Cost: free/included with the player. Sony S-Series Walkman: The S-Series offers a feature called SensMe Channels, which is a "smart" DJ that uses an algorithm to analyze songs in order to create custom playlists based on each track's speed, mood, and rhythm. The Channels range from Morning to Lounge to Extreme and can be accessed under a dedicated icon on the Walkman's main menu. If the Channels are not to your liking, you can reanalyze your library to create new mixes. Cost: free/included with the player.… Read more
Sony has come a long way since the release of the NW-MS11 Network Walkman. One of the company's first flash-based MP3 players, the NW-MS11 didn't even play MP3s and was crippled by copy-protection woes and painfully slow transcoding, but even back then, Walkmans were a model of sleek design and excellent sound quality. The S-Series Walkman is a prime example of the reason Sony was the original king of portable music devices. The flash player, which comes in 4GB ($149.99) and 8GB ($179.99) models, is sleek, compact, easy to use, and packed with features. Plus, it … Read more
No doubt about it: the Apple iPod Nano is an excellent MP3 player. It's ultraslim, generally easy to use, and has a high-quality feel and appealing extras such as a tilt sensor and a smart playlist feature called Genius. However, like all MP3 players, it's not perfect. Sound quality isn't great, there's still no user-definable EQ, and adding voice recording and an FM tuner requires that you drop more of your hard-earned cash. Luckily, if you're not convinced you want to hop on the Nano bandwagon, there's a handful of worthy alternatives, and most … Read more
The first sign of fall in CNET's San Francisco office isn't the turning of leaves--it's the ever-increasing waves of new product announcements. MP3 players in particular start cropping up in late summer, perhaps in an attempt to get a jump on Apple's typical September iPod announcement.
Creative got an early start with its new Zen players a couple of weeks ago, and now Sony is joining the fray. Today, the company announced a rev to its Walkman line of MP3 players in the form of the B-Series, E-Series, and S-Series.
The S-Series represents the top of the line and is arguably the most exciting of the bunch. This new Walkman, which is available in a gunmetal black finish, comes with the integrated noise-canceling capability found on the Sony NWZ-S710.
A pair of complementing, high-end earphones are included in the package, along with an accessory cable that allows the player to be used as a standalone noise-canceling module for use with other audio devices--a unique feature that's ideal for use with in-flight entertainment systems.
Sony has also added support for WMV video (including DRM files from the likes of Amazon Unbox), an FM tuner, and a separate podcast menu item for easier management of the content. In addition, the S Series is the first Walkman to feature a customizable interface that includes a variety of themes and the ability to set personal photos as wallpaper.
Perhaps the coolest feature, however, is the SensMe Channels function, which is a "smart" DJ that uses an algorithm to analyze songs in order to create custom playlists (up to 11) based on each track's speed, mood, and rhythm. Other features include a 2-inch color screen and a rated battery life of 40 hours for audio. The S Series, which is available in 4GB and 8GB capacities for $149.95 and $179.95 (respectively), is expected to hit online shelves in the next three to four weeks. … Read more
AT&T has added another Sony Ericsson Walkman phone to its lineup, but it's not the Walkman we were hoping to see. Instead of the award-winning W760i, the carrier is offering the entry-level Sony Ericsson W350a.
Usually we like Walkman phones, but the W350a was an exception. Its flimsy design, unintuitive controls, and mediocre camera were distracting and the handset had middling call quality as well. It's not completely hopeless--music quality through headphones was satisfactory and the feature set is decent--but it's not our choice for a Walkman phone.
If you're an AT&T … Read more
Who do you have to know in New Zealand these days to get your hands on some new gadgets? The Kiwis were the first to get the iPhone 3G, now they're apparently getting an update to the budget-minded Sony Walkman E series MP3 player.
SonyInsider was the first to break news of leaked specs and images of Sony's paradoxically adorable and masculine NWZ-E435 (2GB), NWZ-E436 (4GB), and NWZ-E438 (8GB), which were temporarily posted on Sony's New Zealand Web site. Maybe calling the Sony E series "masculine" is a bit of a stretch on my part, … Read more
Don't you wish companies would just include great headphones with their MP3 players, instead of those cheap tin cans they call earbuds? In a bid to prove their sonic superiority over the iPod, many competitors are finally bundling their MP3 players with headphones that can do justice to your music.
To imagine a world without crappy white earbuds, we've got a round-up of our favorite five MP3 players that offer high-quality headphones right out of the box.
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Sony Ericsson dropped a load of accessories to go with its new W902, W595, and W302 announced yesterday. The new products range from stereo wireless speakers to wired noise-canceling headsets. We give you the details below--or check Sony Ericsson's Web site for more specs. The accessories won't be available in most markets until the end of this year.
The MPS-100 portable speakers are an update to Sony Ericsson's earlier MPS-60 and MPS-70 speakers. Though they use a wired connection to your Walkman handset, the MPS-100 speakers have an appealing, compact design. They weigh just 4.8 ounces … Read more