A compact music player that nearly won us over.
“If music be the food of love, play on” is what Shakespeare once said. Well clearly the man never owned an iPod. In this day and age it seems everyone has a pair of earphones crammed in their ears, eager to drown out the world around them. Whether you’re on the metro, in a mall, at the gym, or even in a really boring meeting, it’s always handy to have your favorite tunes nearby to soothe your nerves.
Sony’s Walkman series has been around the music generation for quite a while now, at first sporting fancy cassette players which eventually evolved to CD and mp3 players. Their latest offering is the sporty Sony Walkman NWZ-W262, which is an all-in-one headphone and music player solution, designed for those who don’t want cables or mp3 players strapped to their arms. But exactly how does it stack up when put through its paces? Read on to find out if this little thing is singing your tune.
Build quality and design
The NWZ-W262 is essentially two in-ear headphones with 2GB of built in storage. They’re connected by a sturdy plastic strap which you unfortunately can’t bend very much, so if you have a smaller sized head you’ll find that the rigid plastic often causes the earphones to pop or slide out of your ear. If you’ve got a slightly larger cranium, then you should have no problems at all and the headphones fit snugly with the plastic looping behind your head and over your ears. The earphones I found sat a bit too much into my ear that I would have liked, but I’m guessing this is one of the design elements to keep them from moving during certain activities.
The earpieces themselves are encased in black plastic, with the Walkman logo emblazoned on each side. At the bottom of each ear piece are the main controls to operate the device – the right earpiece houses an on/off switch, the play/pause and the track navigation buttons. The left earpiece has a volume rocker as well as a button for toggling between shuffle and playlist mode. When you’re wearing the NWZ-W262 it’s difficult to reach these buttons as you can’t see them, and you also tend to forget which button does what until you memorize them. A robotic voice will tell you when you’ve hit the play or shuffle button, but other than that it’s a question of trial and error until you’re used to it.
Transferring music to the NWZ-W262 is a simple task of plugging in the micro-USB cable and dragging tracks directly onto the device on your PC or Mac. There is an optional software on the device for drag and drop transfers, but you don’t need to install this if you don’t want to. You can also setup playlists easily or try out the ‘Zappin’ mode which plays a short clip of each track sequentially so you can hit play when you come to a track you like.
Comfort and audio quality
While wearing the NWZ-W262 I found that after about an hour of wearing them as I roamed around a shopping mall that my ears were beginning to hurt. It wasn’t because I had the volume turned up or anything, but because the headset wasn’t fitting properly, it was being held up only by the headphones resting in my ear. And though the unit itself is quite lightweight, I was beginning to feel a bit uncomfortable after a while. However when my brother was wearing them he found no discomfort at all as the NWZ-W262 fitted him perfectly and was held securely in place by the plastic band looping over his ears rather than just the earpieces. So how comfortable the device is will really depend on whether or not the NWZ-W262 fits your head properly.
Since the NWZ-W262 is made for active or sporty consumers, I decided to wear them and do a short jog. While the unit is labeled as water-proof, it just means that it can stand maybe a light drizzle or sweat – don’t think you can wear these and take a plunge in your backyard pool. The NWZ-W262 held its own as I jogged, and only a few times did I have to readjust the headset to ensure that it wasn’t going to slip out when I picked up the pace. But when doing some simple floor exercises while laying on my back, the NWZ-W262 kept popping out every so often because the plastic band was pressing against the floor, since it wasn’t a snug fit. If the band was adjustable in any way I think this would have solved the problem, but unfortunately it isn’t, which highlights the importance of the NWZ-W262 being a correct fit for your head.
Audio quality from the NWZ-W262 was quite good, and there was little audio leakage experienced even at higher volume levels. There’s a deep and noticeable bass that doesn’t drown out the treble which is something you often see in other headphones. The battery on the NWZ-W262 can run for about eight hours on full charge which isn’t much, but with about three minutes of charging you can get about an hour’s worth of playback, so there’s little to grip about.
The NWZ-W262 is a handy little thing to take with you to the gym or if you just want a musical companion while you run errands. The 2GB of storage means that you’ll need to be swapping out tracks quite often if you don’t want to get bored of the hearing the same tracks. The real flaw of the NWZ-W262 is that its rigid plastic band means that it won’t always fit your head properly.