Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sony Walkman W-Series MP3 Player Review and Giveaway

Last week, my husband and I were sitting around the living room watching Hot Tub Time Machine. (Yes, this is the kind of high-class culture you’ll find around our house.) In one scene, John Cusack and his time-warped buddies stare around the ski lodge, mouths agape, at an array of quintessential 80’s items. Among these was a particular yellow, waterproof, “sports” version of the Sony Walkman.

“Hey,” I pointed excitedly, “I had that exact same Walkman!”

“Of course you did,” my husband agreed. “It was the 80’s.”

I nodded with a knowing smile. I bet even Lloyd Dobbler himself had one.

That yellow cassette player is exactly what comes to mind when I think of a Walkman. You can imagine my surprise then when I heard that Sony still makes the Walkman in a variety of models. Apparently I have been out of the loop in the wide world of mp3 players.

Although I primarily run without music, I still jumped at the opportunity for this product review. I mean, who wouldn’t want a new Walkman? (Yes, I can totally glorify those awkward, middle-school years simply with memories of an iconic cassette player.) And if you feel the same way, read on to find out how to enter my giveaway contest and win one for yourself.


The Sony W-Series Walkman is a sleek, water resistant music player designed specifically with the outdoor athlete in mind. Its simple design makes using it a breeze, while the features make it very competitive with other, more expensive, music players.

Features I loved:

  • Cordless and Simple – Most of the music player is actually contained within the ear pieces, and the two pieces are attached by rubber neck band that goes behind the neck. This makes it a breeze to take on and off during a run. No string of messy chords to untangle!
  • Easy Controls – The controls are located on the right ear piece. Once I read the initial instructions and spent a few minutes playing around with them, I found them to be quite intuitive and simple. I could easily start or stop the music, skip or repeat songs, scroll through my playlist, and switch to “Zappin” mode. (I’ll explain that last one later.) There’s no screen to make selections, so you simply have to ride through your playlist, skip through to preferred songs, or listen in shuffle mode. This doesn’t seem like a drawback to me because why would I have songs on my player that I didn’t like?
  • Water Resistant – In the past, I have had trouble with my iPod getting too sweaty and not working until it could dry out. So, I think water resistance in an mp3 player is a must. This one held up great in both rain and snow storms. The manufacturer also reports that you can wash the player under the faucet.
  • 11 Hour Battery Life – This was more than enough battery life, even for an ultrarunner. If I’m listening to music on a long run, I’m still probably not listening for more than a couple hours at most. I could use this player multiple times between charges, and the operation lamp flashes at different colors to indicate how much battery life is left. Fancy! It’s also extremely quick to charge.
  • Music Transfer – This was as easy as opening iTunes and taking 5 minutes to click and drag. I didn’t even read the instructions. All technology should be this obvious.

More Features:

  • Zappin – The Zappin playback mode automatically plays a clip from each successive song until the regular mode is returned. It’s kind of like “scan” on your car radio. It seems like a useful feature if you want to hear a specific song, but I never actually found myself using it.
  •  Multiple Earbud Sizes – There are small, medium or large attachments for your ear pieces. Finding the correct size for your ears will help create a more secure fit inside your ear. The pieces were fairly easy to switch out, but I wouldn’t want to do it often (if two people who wanted different sizes shared the player, for example) because I felt like the rubber might rip.

When not in use, the earbuds click together magnetically for compact storage. Also, they make a cute heart shape.


  •  Earpiece Security – The primary drawback I had with this player was that I never felt that it was secure in my ears. The earbuds are heavier than on other players because the player itself is contained within them. This slight extra weight makes them want to bounce out a bit, and the band that goes over the ears didn’t stay on well. I found a very easy fix for this problem by putting either the strap of my visor or my sunglasses over the top of the neck band, just above my ears. I suspect that if you have larger ears, this wouldn’t be an issue. (The girl in the CNET review jumped around all over the place without a problem.) I wouldn’t say my ears are particularly small, but I have read a number of reviews that did not report this issue. Regardless, I always run with sunglasses, so it worked well to just put them on over the top, thus holding the earbuds in place.

The band does not want to stay on my ear.

The under-the-visor fix.

  • All Earbuds, All the Time – On the occasions that I run with music, I am a firm believer in the “one earbud policy”. Not only is it common courtesy to be aware of those around you, but it’s a big safety issue as well. The way this player is set up, there is no option for only one earbud. I found that I simply couldn’t keep the volume low enough to still be aware of automobile and bicycle traffic on the roads, nor could I hear runners or mountain bikes on the trail. Most of the time, I simply removed the player from my ears when I was considering crossing a street. It’s definitely a situation that requires a lot of caution.

Overall, I’d say this is an excellent player for the gym or other low-impact sports. I love the water-resistant feature and the ease of just grabbing it out of my pack and throwing it on without any messy chords. It might not work as a running companion for everyone, but the sunglasses/visor fix worked well for me as far as keeping it in my ears. With the current price of $49.98, it’s an incredibly affordable player as well.

If you’re interested in trying it but not interested in throwing fifty bucks at it, you have a chance to win one for free! Sony set me up with two players to giveaway, so here’s how it will work: 

  1. Simply leave a comment with your name.
  2. Spread the word by putting a link on Facebook, Twitter, and your blog, and give yourself an extra entry for each link.
  3. Tell me in your comment if you get extra entries. (Honor system, people, honor system!)

That’s it. The contest ends midnight Pacific Time on Sunday, May 1. I’ll announce the two winners on Monday, so don’t forget to check back!

Thanks to Sony for providing a player for review and two players for the giveaway!


  1. No FB or Twitter account, so only one entry:)

  2. I have the same trouble with earbuds. They all fall out of my ears. I must have infant sized ear holes (but no ear infections!!). I have taken to wearing Buff headbands tight around my ears to keep the buds in. (I rarely listen to music as well, but this morning I was doing hill repeats to Peter Gabriel's SO: quite a blast from Lloyd Dobbler past!)

  3. Pam - Oh I totally wanted to work an "In Your Eyes" reference in there, but it just didn't fit. So glad you did it for me!

  4. Kovas

    I also tweeted @kovasp

  5. Count me in and I tweeted about the post. I can't believe the current Walkman isn't bright yellow. I didn't know they still made them either, so as I was scrolling through your post, I had no idea what to expect the curent version to look like. I was a little surprised. I think I was expecting the ear buds to some how play cassettes or something...

  6. Oooo, fun! I like the sound of these little guys, and I love your quick fix for keeping them in your ear. Brilliant!

    I'm going to put this in my Twitter feed as well, so two entries for this chickie!

  7. Three entries! I just included it in the closing of my blog post for today :) Yay!

  8. Thanks to you, I had "In Your Eyes" stuck in my head all morning. Not that that's such a bad thing.

  9. I posted it on my facebook

  10. Fun! I often have trouble with clipping my iPod my my tanktop while running, and pulling the cord underneath so I don't catch it while swinging my arms. A true headset! The perfect fix. Thanks for the review- even if you don't pick me I'll have to check these out... :)

  11. 11 hours of battery life! Gracias for the review and chance to win!

    Gringo Runner

  12. I want to live dangerously by being oblivious to the surrounding traffic etc!!! one entry- Monica

  13. Count me in!

  14. No facebook/twitter or blog, so only 1 entry for me!

  15. Hands-free, cord-free and instruction-free? Sign me up!

  16. I'm still searching for the perfect music delivery system. I'd love to give it a try at the first TRC Underground race on Tuesday!