I have had my new Sony Walkman (NWZ-W252) for just over a week now and it is without a doubt the most convenient portable music player I have ever owned (my fourth mp3 player). I've used it every day since I got it and it's helped me to realise that convenience is at the top of my requirements for an every day music player.
This particular model of Sony Walkman is convenient because its all in one design integrates the player into the headpones, so there are no cords to tangle on anything and no player to put in your pocket or clip on your shirt. I've come to think of this player as a set of headphones and refer to "it" as "they" like a set of headphones.
"They" are designed with running or exercise in mind which makes them very versatile. I have washed the dishes and easily changed my clothes without removing them. They are great for listening to music while you are on the go, doing all sorts of activities. They are even water / sweat resistant, though a slightly cheaper non-water resistant model is available as well.
The design incorporates in ear headphones that deliver well balanced sound quality. Noise from the environment can easily be eliminated with the volume up, so do take care if you are running on the road. The headphones are connected by a sturdy cable that runs behind the head. Play and volume controls are embedded into the right ear piece, and there is a shuffle button on the left ear piece. A water resistant cap protects the standard USB mini connector and the ear pieces are held together by a magnet when not in use that turns the player off automatically. Sony also provide a plastic "carrier" that keep the headphones together and prevent magnetic leakage to protect your credit cards during storage.
The theme of simplicity continues when you connect this player to your Windows PC (I tried XP and Windows 7)* - It is detected as a Walkman device automatically and music can be copied directly to the player directory, so zero additional software is required but Sony does supply proprietary software if you would like to use it to create playlists and configure the Zappin functionality. You can play with your music line up while the Walkman charges on its snazzy Sony cradle, the device takes about an hour to get a full charge and provides around 11 hours of playback time. I've also read that you can get up to 90 minutes of playback from a 3 minute charge, though I have not tried this myself yet.
I smiled when I first heard the Walkman say "Play" out of the box. Yes, it speaks, to tell you what features you have toggled including: Play, shuffle, playlists, directory navigation and Zappin. Zappin will play the most recognisable part of a tune if you've loaded your music using the Sony software, or it will skip to the 45 second mark and play from there. You can choose between "Zappin long" - a 15 second sample or "Zappin short" - a 4 second clip. Zappin can be a great way to mix it up if you are a bit bored with your current selection or not sure of exactly what you feel like listening to.
It's tempting to think that maybe Sony should have tried to squeeze an FM radio into the package or Bluetooth connectivity, but having said that I don't find myself missing any functionality and this Walkman would not be as beautifully simple and it really does what it does well! It's cool to make use of all the features on a gadget for a change and I can't really fault this excellent package that Sony have put together. If anything I would say that Sony need to work their marketing on this one - It has turned a lot of heads and sparked interest and conversation - clearly people have never heard of this great product, which is sad.
Seriously Sony, kit a few hot girls with this Walkman and get them into the gyms where people will take notice of this device and it's excellent versatility. There are far too many white ear buds around and so few people realise that there are other perfectly viable (and often better) options available. See more details at the official product page here.
*Note for Linux users: The NWZ-W252 is an MTP device so you will probably require a few tweaks to your box to get it working. I haven't tried this myself but an MTPFS install should get you on the right track. I also found more detailed instructions here: How to mount an MTP device as a drive.