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Coming in at around £60, the same price as Apple's latest iPod shuffle, Sony's cordless Walkman NWZ-W202 MP3 player offers half the memory, at 2GB, but a much more eye-catching appearance. The shiny, space-age design feels most at home in the gym but Sony also promises sound quality to rival higher-end players.
When not in use, the NWZ-W202's magnetic headphones connect to each other neatly, and you certainly won't suffer the age-old problem of tangled cords with this player. The NWZ-W202's tough build feels more than capable of standing up to intense workouts. The headphones are adjustable, and stay in place even on cross-country runs.
Sony has long been a fan of the jog dial and it proves the perfect way of controlling this small, screen-less player. One firm press brings the NWZ-W202 to life, and then you just flick the dial to pause and skip between tracks or activate the Zappin song-navigation feature (see below for more on Zappin). The volume rocker is stiff enough to avoid deafening yourself accidentally. The magnetic link between the headphones also functions as a power switch -- you simply snap the two together to turn the player off.
Taking a leaf out of Apple's book, there's a conspicuous shuffle-mode switch on the back of NWZ-W202, and the device can play AAC files, in addition to MP3s and DRM-protected WMAs.
The NWZ-W202 is charged and loaded via an unprotected mini-USB port and a stylish dock/display stand. Sony recommends Windows Media Player 11 for copying songs to the player, but it's just as easy to drag and drop files.
The NWZ-W202's battery deserves a special mention. While a full charge -- giving around 12 hours playback -- takes about an hour and a half, you'll get around 90 minutes' playback from a charge of just 3 minutes -- ideal when you're in a rush.