The main menu features four icons indicating the player's minimal features: Voice, Music Library, FM, and Settings. The forward and reverse buttons serve to navigate among menu options, while the play/pause key moves you deeper into menus, and the back button backs you out.
The Sony B-Series Walkman features a USB interface concealed beneath a removable cap at one end of the device. It's slightly larger than your average thumbdrive, measuring 3.5 inches long by 0.8 inch wide by 0.5 inch thick, which makes it ultraportable and suitable for just about any pocket.
The B-Series Walkman is an entry-level offering aimed at active users--it's priced competitively at $44.99 for the 1GB model and $59.99 for the 2GB. It comes in a variety of colors--black, pink, red (2GB only), and blue (1GB only)--which align rather well with the typical gym clothing palette.
The B-Series Walkman's tiny, monochrome display measures 0.75 inch diagonally on the front of the device. It seems to us that Sony could have made this noticeably larger had it chosen to move its own brand stamp elsewhere. Still, the Walkman does a decent job with the little screen real estate it has.
Within the music menu, you may navigate by folder or by ID3 tags (artist, album, playlist, and so on). The B-Series supports MP3 and WMA, including subscription content from the likes of Rhapsody and Napster. The FM tuner includes an autoscan function and up to 30 preset slots--both the scanner and the tuner worked very well during testing. The player also has a voice recorder.
Music sound quality also proved good during testing. The B-Series Walkman delivers clear, even audio across genres, though we felt the bass boost function needed to be engaged to get the low-end we crave. The rated battery life of 14 hours failed to impress us; we expect better from Sony. However, we really appreciate the rebirth of the quick charge function, which gives 90 minutes of juice off of a 3-minute charge.
The main playback controls sit on the face of the player and consist of a play/pause button, track forward and reverse keys, and a back button. But Sony also includes a variety of dedicated controls on the top edge of the player, including a record key, a volume toggle, and a bass boost button.