There's more than one way to make a wireless MP3 player, and building it directly into a set of headphones may seem like the easy way out, but it gets the job done. Sony elected to take this route with its new W-Series Walkman, a 2GB MP3 player that's built into a set of impressively small earbud-style headphones and sports a palatable price tag of just $69.
Updated:
Photo by: Corinne Schulze/CNET / Caption by:
We've got to give props to Sony for the design of the W-Series Walkman, which is available in a choice of two colors (black or pink). Two rectangular audio modules--measuring roughly 2 inches long by 0.8 inch wide and 0.4 inch deep--attach to one another via a flexible, twisting neckband. It's the smallest all-in-one MP3 player/headphone we've ever seen, and it's impressively lightweight, as well (1.3 ounces).
Updated:
Photo by: Corinne Schulze/CNET / Caption by:
With any such device made specifically for active pursuits, a secure fit is a chief concern. Luckily, the W-Series Walkman is up for the task: we tested the player walking, jogging, and doing jumping jacks and found it quite capable of staying in place during all of these activities. Still, comfort is somewhat of a concern--the fact that the earbuds are integrated will no doubt cause issues for some, despite Sony's inclusion of three sizes of silicone eartips.
Updated:
Photo by: Corinne Schulze/CNET / Caption by:
As might be expected, the W-Series Walkman's interface is rather nontraditional. Naturally, there's no screen--it would be a bit difficult to view one on a device that's attached to your ears anyway. Music plays straight through in alphanumeric order by default, or you can activate the shuffle switch on the inside of the right earpiece to randomize playback.
Updated:
Photo by: Corinne Schulze/CNET / Caption by:
The bottom edge of the right module contains the remainder of the controls: a volume rocker and a jog dial. Swiping the dial forward or backward serves to cycle through tracks.
Updated:
Photo by: Corinne Schulze/CNET / Caption by:
The W-Series Walkman is predictably light on extras, but Sony does integrate a few unique and useful features. The first is something called Zappin, which lets you browse through tracks by ear by playing a snippet of the chorus of each song.
Updated:
Photo by: Corinne Schulze/CNET / Caption by:
The package includes a sticky-bottomed stand/docking station for charging the device and transferring songs (done via standard Mini-USB). Each earpiece is magnetized and when you stick them together, the player automatically powers down.
Updated:
Photo by: Corinne Schulze/CNET / Caption by:
The Sony W-Series Walkman garnered a Best of CES nomination due to its wearable design, which allows you to cut the cords out of your listening experience.
Updated:
Photo by: Sarah Tew/CNET / Caption by:
Sony managed to fit 2GB of memory into this ultracompact package.
Updated:
Photo by: Sarah Tew/CNET / Caption by:
The W-Series has no screen nor many features to speak of, but it does use an innovative technology called Zappin that allows you to listen to snippets of the chorus of each track in order to audibly find the song you want.
Updated:
Photo by: Corinne Schulze/CNET / Caption by:
Sony includes this handy stand-cum-charging unit with the player. The whole deal will only set you back $69.
Updated:
Photo by: Corinne Schulze/CNET / Caption by:
The W-Series is lightweight and seemed to fit fairly securely, though I didn't move much while wearing it.
Updated:
Photo by: Corinne Schulze/CNET / Caption by:
In the U.S., the player will be available in pink and black versions. If you want the white, neon, or purple/gold models shown here, you'll have to take a trip to Asia.
Updated:
Photo by: Corinne Schulze/CNET / Caption by:
Hot Galleries

CNET's Holiday Gift Guide

'Tis the season for a gadget upgrade

Check out these 8 tablets you'll want to bring home for the holidays.

Hot Products