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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: July 9, 2009 @ 1:56 pm

    Review: Sony NWZ W202

    Ciara O'Brien

    When a tech company touts anything as “wearable” technology, I usually find myself flinching. Perhaps it’s because I can remember the days when a certain firm who shall remain nameless tried to convince me that some fairly terrible looking portable digital picture frames would make a good necklace for a night out.

    Hint: It didn’t.

    sony-walkman.jpg

    So here we are again, and the trend towards making technology “wearable” – and I use the term loosely, given some of the monstrosities that continue to cross my desk – has continued with a vengeance. Which is where the Sony Walkman NWZ W202 came into the picture. A wearable MP3 player that consists of a pair of earbuds.

    The music player is actually  built in to the earbuds, with the controls for volume and selecting tracks on one.

    Admittedly, I had reservations about it. I’m not going to lie. For a start it was pink. Bright pink. Not exactly unobtrusive. And as you can see from the picture, while the music player is compact, it’s still noticeable.

    So the first time I wore it to catch the train home, I hid it underneath my hair. Crippling paranoia that everyone was staring at me (in fairness, whenever the wind blew my hair away, there were a few strange looks).

    But since the idea is that the MP3 player can be worn to the gym or out running, eventually I had to bite the bullet (and my intense fear of people actually looking at me) and go for it.

    This is where I should point out that I probably have some of the smallest ears possible on a fully grown adult. The sort that prompt people to remark on the fact that I do, in fact, have tiny ears. Which usually prompts me to point out that since the rest of me isn’t exactly hulk-sized, they’re probably sized to fit my head. And could they please stop prodding my skull as it’s rather annoying.

    But back to the point. Since my ears are on the small side, they aren’t exactly perfect for holding up  headphones or, in this case, wearable MP3 players. But to be fair to the Sony Walkman, they (mostly) stayed put during my run. So bonus points in that regard.

    Getting music on to the player is easy enough. It’s plug and play, and music transfers over USB, so you can drag and drop if you feel like it. Another plus point.

    Controls are simple – flick the control wheel forward and back to skip between tracks, and press to turn on and off. Volume has its own buttons for highering and lowering the music.  Activate shuffle by flicking a switch on one of the ear buds.

    Because the music player has no LCD screen, it can make finding tracks difficult. Or at least it would if it didn’t have the Zappin feature – a song preview function that plays a few seconds of the track. The difference is that it doesn’t take the preview from the start of the track, it chooses it from about 30 seconds into the song.

    Zappin is activated by holding in the control wheel, and deactivated by the method. Easy enough.

    The battery life is pretty good too – I did several runs before needing to charge the built-in battery, which can be done through USB.

    The verdict: a pretty good music player for more active users.