There's more than one way to
skin a cat make a wireless MP3 player, and building it right into a set of water-resistant headphones is an excellent way to do that and ensure that it's ready to hit the gym right out of the box. This is the route Sony took with its original W-Series Walkman back in 2009, and the company is continuing the tradition with the latest iteration of the device. The fitness-friendly player still features an ample 2GB of internal memory, and Sony has knocked $10 off the MSRP, bringing the W-Series down to an even more affordable $59.99.
As with the previous version, the new W-Series Walkman has no screen and is pretty light on extras. Music plays in shuffle mode by default, though Sony continues to offer its innovative Zappin feature, which lets you browse through tracks by ear by playing a snippet of the chorus of each song. You can choose between long and short settings for this mode, and if you come across a song you want to hear, a press of the jog button will start it from the beginning. Getting songs onto the player is a simple drag-and-drop affair using Sony's great Content Transfer app with iTunes, Windows Media Player, or the Windows desktop. (It's also Mac-compatible as a standard UMS device.)
The W-Series Walkman, more formally termed the W252, has a rather paltry rated battery life by Sony's standards--a mere 11 hours--but given the ultracompact form factor, I can overlook this detail. Besides, 11 hours is more than enough for any workout I can think of. Plus, as someone who often pulls out a nearly dead device on her way to the gym, I'd rather have the included quick charge feature than an ultralong-lasting battery. This functionality gives you 90 minutes of battery life from a 3 minute charge, and the entire 11 hours in just 30 minutes.
With the previous version of the player, there were many complaints that the earphones weren't actually sweat-resistant. Sony has made design improvements in order to address the issue and asserts that the W-Series Walkman will withstand sweaty workouts and jogs in the rain; the player can even be safely run under the faucet for cleaning after particularly grueling sessions. Fitness fiends can buy the player starting today on SonyStyle.com.