Sony NWZ-W252 Review…or something slightly more witty!
Last summer my MP3 player died on me…not suddenly mind you. Slowly. Over a period of weeks. Frustratingly slow. It probably would have been less of a hassle if it had just keeled over, or exploded in my hand, but the slow decline not only notified me that it was time for a replacement, but let me know that the MP3 player would also be as much of a pain-in-the-ass as possible until that time.
I should have seen it coming, however after the headphones became “difficult” to deal with (only working when the cord was held a certain way, or cutting out repeatedly, etc.) I went out and dropped some decent cash on a better pair. Not good enough to entice theft, but durable enough to take a pounding and quality enough to combat that “lost in a tin can sound”.
The player itself was cheap to start with, however when I bought it the ads proudly declared that it was “Splash Resistant” and “Impact Resistant”. How could I resist? Inexpensive, AND it could weather the abuse that an active (cough)clumsy(cough) fellow such as myself could dole out? PERFECT! Don’t get me wrong, I had reservations about ordering something that was $30 vs. the $150-250 of the iPods (they were so sleek and sexy!), especially after touring the local stores and saw the other offerings in that price range. When it arrived in the mail though, I was pleasantly surprised. It was just as advertised, and although the memory capacity was a tad small it fit my needs perfectly, plus if something ill-fated happened to it I could replace it 5-6 times over before hitting iPod territory.
Fast-forward 5 years (yes 5!) the Hydra was on it’s way out and I knew it. It didn’t owe me anything. In it’s final act of defiance, it stopped playing any treble/upper mid portions of the music…which is… only usually the melody/singing/guitars/solos etc. Message received. With a race coming up, it was time to search for a replacement in earnest.
Although I liked the styling etc. of the iPods, I wasn’t ready to drink the Apple kool-aid just yet. For the most part my concerns centered around cost…If I could get my last $30 mp3 player to last 5 years, I was was doubtful a$150 one would/could be worth the extra money. I wasn’t dead-set against Apple, I just needed to be sold on what made the iPod simply better than the options. Another catch was Apple’s proprietary data issues, I have a Windows based computer both at home and work, and wanted to be able to access my music anywhere/everywhere as easily as possible. Apple didn’t seem to facilitate this at a glance.
On the plus side for the iPod was the size and functionality of the Shuffle. Extremely light and small, plus the ability to clip it to a piece of clothing and forget it made it extremely attractive, however the latest generation has the controls on the ear bud cord, which means if you need/want to replace them with a better set (sound quality or ear-fit) you were hooped.
Then one day in my digital travels, along came the Sony NWZ-W252 (damn, that’s a sexy name). A cordless, semi-waterproof mp3 player from Sony, that shoehorns all of the necessities of a digital player into a single headset. Cordless. Let me say that again: CORDLESS. No more sliding the cord down my back, in between shirts, and into my pocket to keep it from bouncing the earbuds out of my ears. No more getting it caught on things and having your head jerk around when you go to walk away (I can be quite clumsy at times). Freedom from the cursed tether. But would the device itself, live up to the billing? The tipping point for me was the price; $50 meant I could gamble on it, and if it was crap I could pass it along to some other sucker…I mean…wrap it up as a birthday gift…or something…(cough).
I ponied up my hard-earned dough and raced home, mp3 player in hand. I wanted to get the sexy black one, unfortunately all they had was white or bright pink, and after briefly considering support the pink ribbon campaign I realized this wasn’t really the support they were looking for. White it was. After some confusion as to how it fit on my head, I got it settled and looked in the mirror;
<- Instead of looking like this guy
I looked more like this guy….with more hair ->
Sacrificing form for function, I donned a balaclava (to hide my face in embaressment) and headed out for my first test run. The Sony is a winner. The sound quality was MUCH better than the old mp3 player, and I attribute this mostly to the earpieces. Earbuds are notoriously poor fitting for some (for me they were awful), whereas the Sony’s earpieces fit directly into the ear canal, and are held in place by the friction force of the headset itself. I’ve yet to have an instance (6 months, tonnes of training runs and one marathon later) where they’ve fallen out or become too irritating to wear. Dorkiness be damned, the Sony NWZ-W252 is here to stay.
The software utilized to place music on the device is actually located on the itself. It installed quick and easy like selling beer to teenagers. Once installed it was ridiculously easy to operate with a basic “drag and drop” interface that works form both Windows Explorer and iTunes….which means it plays the highly coveted .mp4, and .m4a formats (which the Hydra couldn’t do). The unit docks and charges via a stylish stand that plugs into your computer via USB. You can do a quick charge (couple of minutes) which gets you enough juice to complete a single workout, or a full charge which will give you 10 hours of playtime.
So far the durability and usability has been fantastic, well worth the $50 price of admission…and best of all: NO CORDS! My only beef being that there is no output on the player which would allow me to plug it into my car stereo…but that was a known quality when bought it.
If you want a fuller/clearer/knowledgeable/coherent review hit up this review (or set of reviews) at Test Freaks