Update: W-Series Walkman owners experiencing an issue with their players can visit the Sony help site for more information. It appears the issue is only affecting devices within a certain serial number range, so not all products should have the problem.
Original post: The Sony W-Series Walkman is an MP3 player built into a set of earbuds, which feature modules resembling Bluetooth headsets connected by a flexible neckband that loops over the back of the ears and behind the head. The design is undeniably innovative, and the player's ultralight weight and lack of headphone wires does appear to make it ideal for active applications. And in fact, I found this Walkman to be quite handy at the gym during my testing for the review. However, several Sony customers have logged complaints that the device isn't actually sweat-resistant, a rather important feature for any fitness-friendly gadget.
The main complaint is that the Walkman has a tendency to short out after just one or two particularly sweaty workouts. Volume gets wonky, or the music just refuses to play back altogether. In some cases, the player's Zappin feature will turn on and off on its own. Although our review unit did not suffer from such problems, and not all users have experienced the issue, there has been enough negative feedback to warrant a response from Sony, which is just what I solicited after receiving a couple of e-mails on the topic. Below is the company's reply...rather canned, if you ask me, but at least it's something.
Sony makes every effort to ensure that its products not only meet its own strict quality standards, but also support a positive customer experience.
Recently, there have been comments made about the W series Walkman (NWZ-W202), which has been available for purchase in the US and Europe since April 2009. These comments involved a small number of W series Walkmans reportedly malfunctioning following exposure to sweat or other liquids.
We take all customer feedback seriously, so we have implemented additional safeguards to promote sweat/moisture resistance. We are confident that these measures will ensure all W series Walkman models support increased customer satisfaction and meet our high quality standards.
Sony will provide information for contacting Sony Customer Support and replacement unit availability by Tuesday, June 30. We sincerely apologize to our customers for any inconvenience.
Sony promised to supply me with a customer support link as soon as it is up and running. I will post that here when I receive it.