Sony has had three decades to get the Walkman formula right in terms of audio – an evolution from the portable cassette player to MP3 devices and Walkman phones. Now it has made the move into Apple’s territory, by adding video to the X Series 1050 Walkman.
The X Series Walkman is slick looking and offers much of the functionality you would find in the iPod Touch.
Yet, with the traction the Touch has gained in the premium audio/video device market, pricing could be a touchy subject for consumers considering Sony’s offering. The X Series costs $599.95 and $799.95 for the 16GB and 32GB models respectively, compared with $498 and $599 for the equivalent Touch models.
However, the X Series Walkman has a genuinely high-end design and feature set.
Sound quality is top notch and this an area Sony can give the iPod Touch a run for its money. The supplied earphones work with the integrated noise cancelling and the buds are angled for a more comfortable fit in the ear.
Once you activate noise cancellation by using the switch on the right of the unit, you can select the required level of cancellation in regards to the environment you’re in; such as at the office, or in a train or aeroplane. The external input mode allows you to connect a cable for a 3.5mm jack connection, with an adapter plug for aeroplane sound systems.
There is a five-band equaliser, a range of surround and stereo sound settings, a sound enhancement feature and shuffle/repeat playback modes.
Supported audio formats include MP3, WMA, and AAC-LC. The FM radio allows up to 25 station pre-sets.
Photos and videos are displayed in deep, vivid colours, thanks to the superb three-inch OLED touchscreen. The screen isn’t quite big enough to achieve full impact with video viewing, but there is no issue with the quality of the playback, for which AVC, WMV and MPEG-4 files are supported.
The vendor has also included a small stand for watching video on a desk at home.
The user interface is stylish and makes it easy to navigate the menu. The home screen has icons representing the web browser, the FM radio, YouTube, the photo library, video, settings, podcasts and noise cancellation.
A tap on any of these activates an orange glow around the icon to show which process you have selected. Smaller icons for opening expanded menu lists and for searching, appear along the bottom of screens when these options are needed.
The touchscreen is highly responsive, so there aren’t any delays when moving through the menu. A semi-circular button beneath the screen doubles as the home screen key and on/off switch.
An accelerometer will rotate your view between landscape and portrait. As with Apple’s devices, users can scroll through the photo library with a swipe of their finger.
The unit has built-in support for podcasts that users can sign up for via the web or through iTunes.
The web browser is adequate, although the on-screen alphanumeric keyboard makes it difficult to type in URLs.
In the music menu you can search for content on YouTube, or search in Yahoo. Wi-fi is built in (g standard wireless) and the Walkman will scan available networks.
The design of the X1050 is a strong point – the rear and bezel around the frame are sparkling black metal, covered in glass over the front and sides that resemble textured granite. At 52.5 x 97.4 x 10.5mm and weighing 98 grams, users can easily carry this model in their pocket.