Rumors of a new touch-screen Walkman were already making the rounds on the Web before its official announcement and, sure enough, Sony unveiled its latest X-series portable multimedia player at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas back in January. We had the chance to sneak a prototype into our Labs recently to run it through its paces.
UpsideA few things we like about the X-series Walkman: It has a nice, solid feel, plus the rough granite edges add a unique and contrasting touch to this multimedia player with a 3-inch OLED wide-screen display. The 432x240-pixel panel is half an inch smaller and has a lower resolution than the one on the second-gen iPod Touch, but is just as responsive as the latter.
With a quick sweep, the album art races either toward or away from you at an angle.
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Vertical scrolling through the album art to select songs is also a dead ringer for Apple's Cover Flow interface. The speed at which scrolling accelerates depends on how fast you swipe your digit across the screen. With a quick sweep, the album art races either toward or away from you at an angle. This has a pseudo 3D effect and makes it seem like the covers are a pack of cards a la credits rolling style from "Star Trek".
An array of tactile buttons sits atop and on the right of the Walkman. These include a 3.5-mm audio jack, playback, and volume controls, and a switch to activate onboard digital noise cancellation. Oddly, the Hold button is at the back of the Walkman, which we find cumbersome to reach for, especially when the player is in its holder.
The usual audio and video formats are supported and along with these are a Web browser, picture viewer, FM tuner, YouTube, and Podcast applications. A first for a Sony Walkman is the built-in Wi-Fi (802.11b/g). Rated uptime for the lithium-ion cell battery is approximately 33 hours for continuous music playback and 9 hours for videos. It takes about 1.5 hours for the battery to be charged to 80 percent capacity and twice as long for a full charge.
DownsidePanning pages on the NetFront Web browser was a little jerky and less responsive than the other applications on the Walkman, but we'd chalk that up to not-quite-finalized software on our prototype set. Like Safari on the iPod Touch, the X-series Walkman also doesn't support Flash within the browser, which is a real pity.
Another disappointment was that the player supports only up to 320x240-pixel QVGA resolution for video playback.
OutlookThe X-series Walkman, in 16GB and 32GB capacities, will be available in selected Asia-Pacific countries in May. We should have pricing details and a full review then. Amazon.com has the device listed for availability in the U.K. on May 31.
(Via CNET Asia)