The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

3 June 2007

It doesn't look like an iPod

Actually, it looks more like a cheap convenience-store lighter, or maybe a cuttlefish:

Sony Walkman MP3

It is, in fact, an MP3 player in Sony's eternal (or at least endless) Walkman line, and one of these showed up Friday at slightly less expense than one might expect. (Amazon.com is selling the 1GB version for a stiff $189.95; Woot was selling it — briefly — for $39.99 plus the invariant $5 shipping. Mine is a 4GB model.) It is, though, almost exactly the size of that lighter.

How much you can cram into four gigabytes is, of course, dependent on file size. As an experiment, I sent it a few actual .wav files, and they take up every bit as much room in flash memory as they do on hard disc. They do work, though. At the present time, I have 574 tracks loaded into about two-thirds of the available space. (I tend to encode stereo tracks at variable bit rates, which can slide all the way up to 320, and mono tracks at a fixed 96.)

Two things that came out better than expected:

  • Once you figure out where it is, the FM tuner is pretty decent, and it will find presets for you. (Of course, you have to delete the ones you don't want.)

  • The player features an active noise-canceling feature: whatever background grunge it hears, it generates a negative signal to counterbalance it. I haven't tried it with the lawn mower yet, but it's pretty effective on the attic fan. (There's a cost — about 25-percent higher battery consumption — but that still leaves you with about 40 hours on a charge.)

This being a Sony, cool(ish) design is valued more greatly than workable interfaces, and Sony's SonicStage application, besides being Windows-specific, is quite a bit clunkier than, say, iTunes. Still, it transfers at close to full USB 2.0 speed, and there's a "Don't Disconnect" message on the OLED display when things are happening, which is handy if you're not paying attention, which I'm usually not.

And the sound is quite good. Two different sizes of earbuds are provided; there's an equalizer of sorts built in. I expect this will be my backup audio device on the next World Tour, feeding an FM transmitter to Gwendolyn's Bose system. But first, I have to find 300 more songs. (Piece of cake.)

Posted at 12:30 PM to Fileophile


Very cool looking! Isn't it odd, though, that when it comes to electric gadgets we honestly do believe that smaller is better?

Posted by: Venomous Kate at 12:56 PM on 3 June 2007

If we have a lot of gadgets — and if we don't, we hope we will some day — the less room each takes up, the better. I mean, 800 songs? That's a lot of jukeboxes.

Posted by: CGHill at 1:06 PM on 3 June 2007

Hmmm. Four gigs of music sure beats the 700 megs I can put on a data CD to play on my truck's aftermarket Sony. I'm not even sure I have that much music on my bugbox yet.

Not that it would matter; I'm off the transmit-low-power-FM-to-my-stereo idea, until I happen to see one hanging on the display hook that can take adapter power from the cigarette lighter. I'm told they exist, but like Bigfoot I'll believe it when I have one in my hot little hands.

Posted by: McGehee at 2:45 PM on 3 June 2007

...and it's kind of surprising how much there is that Bigfoot's skeptical of.

(You knew what I meant.)

Posted by: McGehee at 2:47 PM on 3 June 2007

I expect to have one in my own overheated mitts next week — specifically, this one.

Posted by: CGHill at 3:12 PM on 3 June 2007

I don't know about this thing but i am partial to my ipod. even when the ipod battery died i could replace it myself using a kit from ipodjuice.com. oh well.

Posted by: Alecia at 11:57 AM on 20 June 2007