Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sony Walkman W-Series Review and Giveaway

Earlier this month I was contacted by Sony to review their new Sony Walkman W-Series MP3 Player, geared towards runners, joggers, and people on the go. They sent me a pair to test drive, and 2 additional pairs to give away (details all the way down).

At first, I was skeptical, as I am about any new earbuds, mp3 players, etc. designed to work effectively while banging away road miles.  There seems to be a million of them out there and they all sing the same refrain... 'I'm popping out of your ears as soon as you start running'.  This is the worst part of the Apple earbuds that come with any iPod you purchase.  They are great for sitting on a plane or bus, walking around, etc.  But as soon as you try to actually jog or run, they do NOT stay in.  I don't care what the person in the advertisements 'look' like they are doing, they typically don't stay in your ears longer than 4-5 strides (if you are lucky).  A few years ago, I came across a Nike winter hat (Hatphones) that changed my cold weather running for the better.  It allowed me to put my OLDSCHOOL iPod Nano in the hat itself, and hook into a pair of integrated headphones right inside the hat, eliminating the dangling wires and cumbersome armband you'd need to store the iPod itself when you run.  I loved it and still use it in the colder months here in New England. It doesn't even look like you are listening to your iPod.  It just looks like you are wearing a black winter cap.  But in the summer, I have no alternative.  I have a couple of armbands I use to stuff the IPod into, then just have the wire flopping around up to the set of my 'earbuds-of-the-week' that I use.  I have gone through at least 5 pairs of earbuds, looking for ones that will actually stay on my head when I run.  I have switched back and forth between ones that have rigid ear hooks and one that have soft, flexible ones.  I can't ever tell which ones are better.  Usually what I have to do is put them in, then wear a pair of sunglasses (strategically positioning the temples over my earbuds to keep them down), or wear a running cap or headband to keep the buds from popping out.  It is never an easy solution.  A couple of years back I did get another device (I will not mention by name) that simply clips/secures around the back of your neck and allows you to clip in an iPod Nano (before the Nano's got super small).  Then you wrap your earbud wires around the frame and run the rest of it up to your ears.  I used this one time, in 95 degree heat in the summer and by 7 miles, my iPod was fried because of the sweat dripping from my hair and the back of my neck.  It left the iPod exposed to the elements, right there in the back of my neck.  I had to wait an entire day for my iPod to dry out before it would work again.  If it had rained halfway through my run, it would have been a goner.  Poor planning and design on that for sure.  I was still left without a really good solution until I saw this product description for the Sony W-Series in the email I got from Sony.  I decided to give this a go and see if I would actually have some luck.

At first glance, the looked like they will be a good solution because there are no wires.  There is a flexible rubber frame that wraps around the back of your head and the ends hook around the tops of your ears, to keep these things on your head while running.  That looked like a huge plus.  The actual ear pieces are a bit long but I think that has got to be to house the controls for the device itself (forward, back, play, pause, shuffle, volume up/down, etc.). They are extremely light and don't feel cumbersome at all when they are on.  The real test would be to actually run in them and bounce around to see if they will just flop right off my head.

Image to the left of the the actual pair next to some other items for size comparison (note, ahem, that shiny USATF Bronze Medal in the bottom right hand corner ;) )...

They are very light and have a magnet pair on the end of each ear piece that allows the unit to clip together (as seen in the photo).

Image to the left of what's in the box (the laptop is NOT included)... You get a plastic holder for the unit when it is not in use, a set of large and small earbuds (mediums come installed already), a USB cable for the device to hook into your computer, and a bunch of manuals and digital music promotions.

I haven't played around with the actual software you are supposed to use, but just hooking the device into your computer, pops open a regular device window where you can browse the contents of the device as it were a drive, and simply drag and drop music into the directory.  It was extremely simple to do, and I was able to drag and drop a bunch of good tunes over in seconds.  There are some songs that come already loaded in memory, but I didn't really recognize any of them.  I threw some of my running classics on there and headed out the door to see if I could make or break these things.  I should mention that it came partially charged and the display in Win 7 shows you very nicely, how much battery and storage you have.  Very cool.

Well, I found out right away, that these things DO actually stay in my ears while running.  I had no help (no hat, no headband, no sunglasses).  I just ran with these things hooked around my melon and they worked great.  The volume seemed plenty loud, and it is very easy to switch back and forth between songs.  I imagine this is much like an iPod shuffle (last generation), in that you don't get any display, etc.  It is really just for shuffling and playing playlists while you are on the go and not looking (obviously) at the device.  I really liked the actual small little switch that you click back and forth to change through the songs.  It was very easy to click through and find something to listen to fast.  I ran fairly quick on the way back and dropped down a couple of quick miles to see if these would fall out even under the worst of circumstances and they didn't budge at all.  The feel a little 'loose' at times, but they stay put.  That is the biggest test of all.  They can sound great, but if they fall out, they are no good....these passed the test and I'm happy to say I'll be using these more often.

They do look a little like you are rocking a Bluetooth headset in each ear though, which may seem a bit strange at first, but that aside, I really think these are a great way to listen to tunes while pounding the pavement or trails, without having to worry about them falling off or having to worry about cumbersome wires and holders, etc.

Device Stats:

  • Music Storage Capacity (Approx) : 1.68 GB (1,812,660,224 bytes)
  • Memory Size : 2GB
  • User Memory Capacity (Approx.) : 1.68 GB 1,812,660,224 bytes
Weights and Measurements:
  • Weight (Approx.) : Approx. 43g (Approx. 1.6 oz)
  • Battery Charging (Approx) : USB-based: Approx. 1.5 Hrs (full charge), Approx. 3 Minutes (approx. 90 minutes playback)1
  • Battery Indicator : LED Battery Life Indicator (Green/Orange/Red)
  • Battery Life (Approx) : Music: 11 hrs. (MP3 128kbps)
  • Power Type : Built-in Rechargeable Li-ion Battery
  • AVLS : AVLS Volume Limit ON/OFF
  • Format(s) Supported : MP3/ AAC/ WMA (DRM)/ WMT Capable
  • Frequency Response : 20 - 20,000Hz (when playing back data file, single signal measurement)
  • Audio Power Output : 5 + 5mW
Audio Features:
  • Play Mode : Normal / Shuffle / ZAPPIN™ (Short or Long)
Inputs and Outputs:
  • Headphone Output(s) : Cord Free Design
  • USB Port(s) : USB mini-B connecter
  • Hi-Speed USB(USB 2.0 compliant)
  • Headphone Type : Closed, dynamic 13.5mm, dome type
  • System Requirements : Computer: IBM PC/AT or compatible computer preinstalled with the following Windows operating systems: - Windows® XP Home Edition (Service Pack 2 or later) - Windows® XP Professional (Service Pack 2 or later) - Windows Vista® Home Basic (Service Pack 1) - Windows Vista® Home Premium (Service Pack 1) - Windows Vista® Business (Service Pack 1) - Windows Vista® Ultimate (Service Pack 1) Not supporting 64 bit version OS.
In the Box:
  • Earbuds (S/M/L) Supplied in pairs.
  • Holder (1)
  • Operation Guide (1)
  • Notes on Water Resistant Specifications (1)
  • USB cable (1)


Last but certainly not least, I have been given 2 extra pairs of these to give away to my readers.  Want one for yourself?  You have 2 options... 1st option is to of course purchase one of these at this special discount link (48.99) OR 2nd option is to leave a comment below (the topic will be to list the top 10 songs that would be on your playlist for when you are rockin' on a run...).  I will leave this up for 1 week and then pick 2 names of people who post, from a hat, and they will be lucky owners of their own pair.  I'll send out or (hopefully) give you the pair if I see you at a race (if you are local)!!! 


  1. Hey JJ!

    Great review. I have yet to find a pair of headphones that will stay put in my RIGHT ear during a run. It's probably just me, but maybe these badboys will change that streak.

    Here's my current Top 10 (no wisecracks! :)

    Coming Home - P Diddy

    No Love - Eminem

    Mumford & Sons - Pretty much anything off their latest album

    Guns N' Roses - November Rain, Don't Cry, Estranged, and You Could Be Mine all-in-a-row

    Still D.R.E - Dr Dre & Snoop Dogg

    We Made You - Enimem

    Stereo Love - Edward Maya

    Stay healthy and see you in a couple of weeks!

  2. Thanks Jason! Your name is in the hat. Your list has got a bit of everything!

  3. Hey JJ nice write up and nice win today.

    This is my 10 songs:
    1) American Girl Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
    2) Gloria U2
    3) Hotel Chambermaid Graham Parker and the Rumour
    4) Clash City Rockers The Clash
    5) Sweet Black Angel The Rolling Stones
    6) Born to Run Bruce Springsteen
    7) Back on My Feet Again The Babys
    8) Drive South John Hiatt
    9) Substitute The Who
    10)Theme song Rocky soundtrack original Rocky

  4. Nice list Huey Lewis? ;)... your name is in the hat....

  5. JJ, if I win I will download the entire Sports album right away)

  6. Alright JJ, throw my hat in the... well, put my name in the hat.

    1.) Lazy Eye - Silversun Pickups
    2.) Your Southern Can Is Mine - White Stripes
    3.) Always Something - Cage the Elephant
    4.) They Never Got You - Spoon
    5.) Teenage Dirtbag - Wheatus
    6.) Cannonball - The Breeders
    7.) Trying Your Luck - The Strokes
    8.) Paper Doll - Louis XIV
    9.) You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire - Queens of the Stone Age
    10.) 10,000 Days - Tool

    This will be the best list you get - guaranteed.


  7. Love the Silversun Pickups...lazy eye is my favorite track from them actually. Tool rules. Breeders are obviously awesome. Haven't heard Spoon in a while. Thanks for the list. Rosie O is in the hat.

  8. Hey Jim! Great posts/recaps as's my list:

    1) 'Till I Collapse - Eminem
    2) Radio Nowhere - Springsteen
    3) Lit Up - Buckcherry
    4) Rearviewmirror - Pearl Jam
    5) Training Montage - Rocky IV
    6) Bawitdaba - Kid Rock
    7) Hold on - Korn
    8) I Need a Doctor - Dre & Eminem
    9) Insomnia - Faithless
    10) Streams of Whiskey - The Pogues

    I threw #10 on there for the ole Fountain St. days. I'm sure I'll run into you at a race or two. Good luck at Boston!


  9. 1. Nobody's Fool- Cinderella
    2. Red Hot- Motley Crue
    3. Electric Gypsy- LA Guns
    4. Edison's Medicine- Tesla
    5. In My Dreams- Dokken
    6. Poisen Ivy- Faster Pussycat
    7. Youth Gone Wild- Skid Row
    8. Among the Living- Anthrax
    9. Nobody Rides For Free- Ratt
    10. Painkiller- Judas Priest

    game over

  10. haha..mike, flattery (with the list) will get you no further than anyone else :)... everyone's name goes into a hat....but this list is pretty badass. I had the Night Songs tape (Nobody's Fool isn't exactly the best 'running' song, but it's good)... Tesla rules. Dokken used to be my favorite group at one time (probably like 4th grade, no lie)... I had Among the Living on tape too... Ratt is one of my all time favs (seen them a couple times back in the day) and Priest...well what can I say about Priest.... Your name is in the hat...

  11. mark, I really dug that Springsteen stuff from a couple years ago.. Lit Up is currently on my iPod....Pearl Jam rules (especially first 3 albums)... I like the rest of the list...especially Faithless...I have a bunch of Faithless vinyls...and the Insomnia single w/ Armand Van Helden's mix on tune!!! I remember vividly those Pogues songs late at night! ;)...Your name is in the hat...

  12. Stuff I might hit repeat to when I am out on a run:
    The Alarm: Hit the Ground Running
    The Hold Steady: Constructive Summer
    Titus Andronicus: A More Perfect Union
    Bruce Springsteen: Candy's Room
    The Elms: All the While Having Fun
    Band of Skulls: I Know What I Am
    The White Stripes: Get Behind Me Satan (listening to the whole album)
    The Alarm: 68 Guns
    U2: Unknown Caller
    Emmanuel Jal: Emma

  13. Hey Jim, Nice review! I have yet to find anything that will stay in my ears during a run. If I could my playlist would look like this:

    1. The Urge: If I were You
    2. Brightwings: Many Miles
    3. Daphne Loves Derby: Stanger You and I
    4. Jimmy Eat World: The Middle
    5. The Downtown Fiction: I just Want to Run
    6. Less Than Jake: 9th at Pine
    7. October Fall: Second Chances
    8. Pearl Jam: Go
    9. Pietasters: Little Engine
    10. Sugarcult: Out of Phase

  14. Ok JJ I'm going to take a crack at this. My list may be a bit older slanting more towards classic rock but here it is:

    Talking heads: road to nowhere
    Alice Cooper: no more mr. Nice guy
    The Who: won't get fooled again
    Jim Croce: you don't mess around with Jim
    Live: pain lies on the riverside
    Meatloaf: bat out of hell
    Janes Addiction: Jane says (live version)
    Rage against the machine: testify
    Arcade fire: rebellion (lies)
    The pixies: debaser

  15. Chris, I've only heard of 3 of these! ;)

    Joe, good list... that live version of Jane Says is one of the greatest recordings of all time... LOVE the Pixies...

    Names all in the hat...

  16. Great job up at Cable. Saw you there.

    Good review of the Sony.

    Here's a list of 10 from many good candidates for running playlists.

    1 - Can't Stop Running - Todd Rundgren
    2 - Lovers of Light - Afro Celt Sound System
    3 - Ain't No Easy Way - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
    4 - Blindsided - Bon Iver
    5 - Mountain Pass - Dan Fogelberg
    6 - Ain't Gonna Stop - James Otto
    7 - Dreamer - Chris Brown
    8 - Colorado - Hello Dave
    9 - Run to the Hills - Iron Maiden
    10 - Can't Find My Way Home - Blind Faith (with Eric Clapton)

  17. Mike Quintal's is tough to beat but here is a mixed bag in no particular order:
    1. Sex on Fire, Kings of Leon
    2. Girlfriend is better, Talking Heads
    3. Bombtrack, Rage Against the Machine
    4. Running Down a Dream, Tom Petty
    5. Wheels, Foo Fighters
    6. Cath, Death Cab for Cutie
    7. Bodies, Drowning Pool
    8. Funky Kingston, Toots and the Maytals
    9. Distance, Cake
    10. Cowboys from Hell, Pantera

  18. Curt, your list is all over the map! ;)

    SJ, this list is killer...I like every song on there! The only one I wasn't familiar with was the Funky Kingston song...all the rest have appeared in my playlist at one point or another! hat.

  19. Since I do my long runs alone, music is really important for them. Thanks, double J, great idea

    1) Death Cab for Cutie - I Will Possess Your Heart
    2) Iggy Pop - The Passenger
    3) The Ramones - (lots) including, I Wanna Be Sedated
    4) R.E.M. - (tons)including Bang and Blame
    5)Lenny Kravitz - Let Love Rule, explicit version
    6) Violent Femmes - Add It Up
    7) Depeche Mode - Personal Jesus
    8) The Church - (lots) including You're Still Beautiful
    9) Duffy - Mercy
    10) David Bowie - nearly anything, including Heros

  20. DoubleJ,
    Here’s my top ten, complete with a running-themed line from each song:

    1. Do the evolution; pearl jam; see all these rolling hills? I’ll flatten them out, yeah
    2. Hell yes; beck; your beat is correct
    3. Long way to the top; ac/dc; it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll
    4. Over and over; hot chip; the joy of repetition is really in you
    5. Gotta move; frank black; I had a taste…I gotta move
    6. Here I come; the roots; you boys be ready cuz here I come
    7. Elevation; u2; you make me feel like I can fly
    8. Underdog; the dirtbombs; I’m the underdog but that’s ok b/c I can handle it
    9. Myxomatosis; radiohead; I twitch and I salivate like w/ myxomatosis
    10. Rearview mirror; pearl jam; I gather speed from you f!cking w/ me

    I mention some of these songs in the novel I’m posting on my page. Lots of good jams already mentioned in people’s top tens. They should keep us moving for a while.

  21. Have to be in a really traffic-free area to trust drivers around here, so I usually limit tunes to runs on the Minuteman bikepath. When I do..

    Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out
    Pigbag - Papa's Got a Brand New Pigbag
    Violent Femmes - Blister In The Sun
    Audioslave - Cochise
    Fratellis - Chelsea Dagger
    Vines - Ride
    Ramones - Blitzkrieg Bop
    Blur - Song 2
    Saul Williams - List of Demands
    Cramps - Can Your Pussy Do The Dog?

  22. EJ, I thought I was the only one that likes Papa's Got a Brand New Pigbag!! Classic!

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  24. My current list...

    1. Back in Black (Live) - AC/DC
    2. Whatever - Godsmack
    3. You've Done Nothing - Face to Face
    4. Sound of Madness - Shinedown
    5. Santa Monica - Everclear
    6. Otherside - Rancid
    7. Combustible - Rustic Overtones
    8. Jesus of Suburbia - Green Day
    9. Shipping Up to Boston - Dropkick Murphys
    10. In One Ear - Cage the Elephant

  25. some great, great songs already listed. my list:

    i'll believe in anything - wolf parade
    wolf like me - tv on the radio
    doin' the cockroach - modest mouse
    giving up the gun - vampire weekend
    meet me in the basement - broken social scene
    all the wine - the national
    for real - okkervil river
    hearts of oak - ted leo / pharmacists
    pillar of salt - the thermals
    idiot heart - sunset rubdown


  26. Hi Jim, good postings, i'll share CMS Dave W

    -Award Tour-Tribe called Quest
    -Birdhouse in your soul - They might be giants
    -Diner - Martin Sexton
    -Enter Sandman - Metalica
    -The Jackal - Ronny Jared
    -Friday - Ice Cube
    -Chariots of Fire - Olympia
    -Zombie - Cranberries
    -Lose yourself - Eminem
    -No sleep till Brooklyn - Beastie Boys

  27. I am doing the review/giveaway on this too.. and I can be seen sporting my hatphones all year round, ha.