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Sony’s Magic Wand – Walkman NW-S203FS

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The name may not be that cool, but this little Walkman, MP3 player by Sony is fitness fanatics dream come true.
Sony’s Walkman range has been a bit down and out for a while but they are trying hard to revive it. Most recently with the NW-S range of Walkmans, specifically designed for working out be it in the gym or on the pavement. It may look a bit like a test tube but it don’t let its minute size and phallic looks deceive you it packs a real punch.
Is it ready to use?
No. You have to install the Sony’s very own sync software which is relatively easy to use but not nearly as seamless as it rival iTunes. The software will not run on Windows Vista which is a bit of a problem as now all PC’s sold come with Vista.
After you have installed the software it will automatically scan your hard drive for music. Soon you will have your entire music collection on that one program. Now you can go on to create playlists and select what music you want on your Walkman.
Your Walkman is now ready to use, stacked full of your favourite tunes.

Is it easy to use?
As I previously stated the sync software provided, which is the only software the Walkman will work with is relatively easy to use but it could be better.
The Walkman itself is controlled by what I can only call a joystick on top of the device. The joystick moves up and down parallel to the device and clicks in at three stages, the first to select the ‘albums’, the second to select ‘artists’ and the final stage to lock all buttons on the device. It also moves side to side to select the track or option you prefer. It is not rocket science to use the Walkman but it lacks the pick it up and you know how it works of the iPod nano. This is understandable as it has a tiny little LED screen which only displays one line at a time.
Sony has included a cool new feature on the Walkman, which I admit, is a bit of a pain to set up, as you have to put in how much you weigh, how tall you are and the distance between steps when running and walking, which is not that easy using that little joystick. But it is all worth it as this little Sony Walkman comes with a built in G-Sensor which in ‘sport mode’ using what they call ‘Active Playlists’ is able using two playlists of your choice, to switch between the two playlists depending on whether you are walking or running. It also gives you a detailed summary of your run (or walk) after you reach your pre-selected goal, which can be set to distance, time or calories burnt.
Is it value for money?
When we received the Walkman about two weeks ago, here at gadget.co.za where very surprised to find the amount of accessories we did in the box, the Walkman came with, as standard an arm strap and headphones (which I will comment on later), this may not seem so amazing but look what features it comes with inside it. The Walkman comes with a Pedometer (G-Sensor), an FM radio, stopwatch, calorie counter.
To get these features including the armband will cost you over R2 000 if you had to buy them as accessories to the Apple iPod as none of them come as standard. So the iPod nano 2gig with the same features as the Walkman 2gig would cost in total R3 614, approximately R2000 more than the equivalent Walkman NW-S.
Let’s not mention the fact it’s water resistant and it’s made out of aluminium.
The only serious criticism I have for the Walkman is their so-called ‘sports-style headphones’ have to be the stupidest things ever designed by mankind; they are massive so they only fit geriatrics, the cord is far too long and they keep on falling out when doing anything bedsides have tea . In their favour the sound quality decent though.

But starting at a relatively cheap R1 200 for a 1gig you can afford to get yourself a new pair of headphones.

In conclusion the Sony Walkman NW-S203FS is a brilliant piece of equipment that every runner should own, it works well, sounds great (with headphones that fit) and is very well prised. Unfortunately it does not have the cool factor of the iPod so it won’t create any dent in sales for Apple, but it should.

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