CNET is available in the following editions:
Not yet rated
Read our full review
Add your review
Good: good alternative to Apple's iPod Touch
Bad: I don't own it yet
Comment: I had to write this because the writer of this article is so frustrating! The device is a personal media player, not a phone so why go to such lengths to berate it for the lack of 3g? it is NOT an Android phone so why would it be competing with them?
Good: SEN Music Unlimited* compatible Unique easy-grip design G-sensor Themed SensMe™ music channels Intuitive W.Button Premium sound quality by Sony Play music out loud Easy connectivity Rich applications y, simple sharing Large, beautiful touchscreen
Bad: no camera no memory expansion the home screen is pretty dim doesnt have sonys amazing battery life
Comment: he long history of the Walkman is taking a new twist with the first Android-enabled PMP. The Sony Z-Series Walkman with Android will be out in February
Sony's iconic Walkman player has always been a pioneer for personal music players. The original cassette player was a revolution and its Discman personal CD players continued the tradition with market-leading sound. The next generation is represented by the Sony Z-Series Walkman with Android.
The device has been out in Japan for a while and was confirmed for the US and Europe at CES 2012, where we were able to go hands-on with the Z-Series Walkman with Android.
Sony Z-Series Walkman with Android: Build
The first thing we noticed about this device was the sheer size of it. Sony has opted for a hand-filling 4.3-inch display, compared to the 3.5-inch display on the iPod touch. Sony's thinking behind this is to enhance the video viewing experience and allow users to get the best from games on the Android Market.
The device also feels very thin at 11.1 inches and weighs-in at just 156g giving it a very light feel. The back of the device is curved inwards at the middle to ensure it fits nicely in the hand, while the external speakers are also nestled on the rear.
A new addition to the Walkman range is the 'W' button on the side of the device, which summons a condensed version of the music player, wherever you may be on the device, even if the display is sleeping. It's a neat, easily accessible addition if you want to skip tracks. There's also a HDMI port and volume keys on the right of the device.
At the foot is a proprietary charging port and the headphone jack. Was it too much to ask that Sony offer microUSB charging? Apparently so. Also missing are cameras as Sony looks to cement this device as a Walkman first and foremost, rather than just a smartphone without the phone part.
Overall the Walkman felt good in the hands, as a real premium feel to it and was easy to operate via the soft keys near the base of the Z-Series.
Sony Z-Series Walkman with Android: Features
Naturally, the big news here is the inclusion of Android on a Walkman for the first time. The Z-Series carries Android 2.3 Gingerbread rather then the latest 4.0 version and for the most part this remains a largely organic implementation of Google's Mobile OS.
The ability to access the Android Market makes this by far the most functional Walkman ever, with access to every app the store has to offer, while also bringing the music downloads and movie rental portals. On top of that, there's also an FM radio, email, web browsing and everything you'd expect for an Android device, including GPS. The functionality clearly identifies the Z-Series as an Android answer to the iPod touch.
The menus boast the generic Android look, feel and UI, while Sony has resisted the temptation to shove a custom UI onto the Z-Series. The media players are distinctly Sony, however, dwarfing the functionality of most Android smartphones with a host of customisable options including an impressively-stocked graphic equaliser and the opportunity to create SenseMe smart playlists to fit your mood.
There's also access to Sony's Music Unlimited service, which allows you to subscribe for a Spotfiy-like experience for a monthly fee, however that's available on all Android phones and is nothing new.
Sony is also pretty pleased with its new AirPlay rival which allows the DLNA-enabled Z-Series the send content to HDTVs and other screens over Wi-Fi. Like AirPlay, it's pretty seamless and allows you to continue watching or listening on other devices with one touch of a button on compatible devices.
Sony Z-Series Walkman with Android: Screen
Despite the added bonus of the 4.3-inch WQVGA, 800x480 display, video playback isn't as impressive as we'd hoped. Firstly the screen seems to suffer from a lack of brightness, with everything appearing to be quite dim. Despite promising to bring full HD playback, the crispness of video is nowhere nears as good as the Retina Display on the iPod touch.
We've no complaints about the touchscreen. It responded to our commands well, although fingerprints proved difficult to shift when we were trying to snap pictures of the Z-Series.
Sony Z1000 Walkman with Android: Performance
The sound quality of Sony's MP3 players has never been in question. They're outstanding and the Z-Series Walkman is naturally the best sounding Android device ever created and arguably, on first listen, up there with the Apple iPod touch, which has long been heralded for its impressive sound.
The S-Master MX technology brings noise cancelling technology into play, which proved pretty effective during our brief test of the device and the impressive range of audio options trumps every other Android device on the Market.
Elsewhere on the device the NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, which Sony says is "tablet quality", keeps things ticking over at a really fast pace. There was no lag opening apps and photos, videos and webpages rendered swiftly.
Sony promises 20 hours of music, but just five hours of video from the battery.
Sony Z-Series Walkman with Android: Verdict
It's beyond question that this is the best sounding Android device it has ever created. Sony has worked hard on this device to bring its trademark audio performance that just isn't quite there on its range of Xperia smartphones. Adding Android into the mix is a smart decision which has the potential for Sony to resurrect its iconic brand for those seeking more than just a PMP.
Across the board, it's more expensive than the iPod touch, while appealing to the same target audience. It's a perfect device for those Android fans who also want a top notch music player.
Sony Z-Series Walkman with Android price and availability: The 32GB iteration of the device will cost £299.99, which is £50 more expensive than the iPod touch and will be available in late February.
Comment: I have been longing for Sony to make a flagship follow up to the X series which was and still is one of the better daps out there under £300.
Got to say though once again the journalistic reporting on here recently is of sub standard quality and like a certain piece entitled Blackberry (five things the new ceo needs to do" by a certain Cnet writer despite this sony Z just been a preview is very poor in understanding what the product is about and totally misses the point of it's objectives and anyone who is really into high quality personal music players would understand this.
Unlike the recent poor Blackberry report by Natasha Lomas this does have some valid points but is still so short sighted it becomes a narrow minded and misunderstood view in such a naive ignorant way that it beggars believe.
For example here is a quote from this report;
"The 4.3-inch screen is bigger than that of the iPod touch. But it's not really competing with the touch. It's up against other Android phones that do the same stuff, only cheaper"
The above statement is so miss conceived, it actually is still in direct competition with the Touch, it is not trying to be a smart phone without the phone, Sony have made this foremost the best sounding Walkman they can with the added benefit of having android which still comes second for the Walkman is just what the Touch has had and the reason it has been such a mass selling music player for the last four years which is where the misconception is because it has android it is trying to be like a phone, well the Touch is basically the i-phone without the phone but people still want just a dedicated music player.
Which leads me to this unbelievable obsession from everyone at Cnet that a music player has to have a camera just because the Touch has.
This is where the total misunderstanding comes in with every one obsessed with the Apple blueprints @ Cnet that everything else has to be exactly like a Apple in every sense to be accepted and this is where the line is drawn comparison's.
Apple may have a camera built into the Touch and sell more undeniably than the Walkman now days but here's the punch line, and again I reiterate the Sony foremost concentrates on Sound Quality first with this Z series and the market they target are audiophiles that want more than a sub standard Mp3 format that today's generation are brain washed into accepting as an acceptable standard.
This is where the Touch falls down as it is a hand held phone without the phone that has the camera foremost and a music player second or lastly in my experience because no Touch to date has come even close to matching the Sony A, X or Z series for sound quality unless possibly amped with a portable amplifier which cost £150-300 which then defeats the object in a quality portable music player.
So please everyone at Cnet, please educate yourself's in understanding not all company's have to follow the sheep syndrome and cut from the exactly same cloth as Apple as there is still enough of a mass market for high quality products that actually do the intended purpose of it's needs first for those who hold sound quality as priority in a MUSIC player above all the other stuff that blurs the boundary's that a music player should be phone because it's not!?
A smart phone does not do ALL the same things as a Walkman because none of them can even match the sound quality of a dedicated Sony Walkman, and it won't happen to soon either as they will never invest in the extra for the chips and class amps that are used in Walkmans. Do you see even the Xperia packing a S master MX amp - NO. Penny dropped?
Until smart phones can sound as good as a flagship Sony Walkman or a Cowon and have 3-4 days battery life with playing music, videos and lets not forget phone calls will Cnet please get more educated on market targets and what some of these products aim to do before trying to hold it to the Apple candle that sits on the window ledge in those Cnet offices.
The irony after that dissection is I am just as angry with Sony as with the miss- interpretations of products on Cnet with their new Z series Walkman.
Sony have got it right again concentrating on making a fine sounding Walkman firstly for those who care about high quality music files for use with reference iem's or even headphones but they seem to have this annoying habit of losing consistency across the generations of players they release like having tactile hard buttons along the top of Walkman like the X series did which was perfect which made it a joy to use blindly whilst in trouser/ jacket pocket when on the go.
Not like the new A series which is down the side in a awkward place and now the Z series has no tactile buttons at all! which is just unforgivable as to why they do not use their common sense, all touch screen Walkmans should have tactile buttons across the top of player through every generation far as I am concerned. If they are going to do that at least bring back the in line remotes Sony where so famous for with their older Walkmans.
The biggest omission from Sony is denying the UK (Europe & US essentially) the 64gb model which is like shooting yourself in the foot with a shotgun and this is where Sony really fail in their marketing if they really want to start with really trying to compete to get back a market share from Apple. This is just unacceptable from Sony ignoring these market's, their official response on Facebook site when question posed to them was there is not enough demand for the 64gb version!
This is where I agree with Rich Trenholm portable music players like phones should also be offering a micro sd card slot also especially at this price, there is no reason why they can't. It would not been so bad if Sony had offered this.
Also agree it would also be nice to have micro usb now days just as long as Sony keep the line out on their Walkmans. And regardless of technology involved with it's screen size Sony need to ensure the battery stamina for music playback stays around the 35 hours like previous gen models and not 20 hours if we are lucky one year down the line of constant use listening to say wav files.
Despite android been able to provide a software player now that could do this it would also be nice to see Sony have on the go playlist's like their old HDD Walkmans had, have missed that feature sorely.
Could of used a bit more imagination and not just used the Xperia phone casing essentially for their first android Walkman, does nothing to distinguish it self in that respect from the Xperia phones, should of had a different design that was uniquely a Walkman classic design in the making. Why they included a speaker on the back of case that is powerful as a ant passing wind is beyond me.
Ideally and I know Sony are targeting this equally as a media player with it's 4.3 screen but this is a tad to big really to be called a true portable Walkman and should of ideally been 3.7 screen at most which would of still been plenty of real estate for a Walkman screen even for casual video watching.
So for me this Sony Z is far from perfect and the degrading treatment of excluding the 64gb version from the UK market make it a deal breaker. I had the X series two years ago now and you think they would of all made the natural progression to 64gb. How anyone would be satisfied with 8 or 16gb on a player like this is strange.
Even the 32gb would not cut it if you used high quality music files with video content combined with the new addition of having app's galore.
Don't Sony sit down and think about how the end user will fill it up over life period of a year or two later. Another sign of short sightedness from the design team @ Sony.
All in all this is a step in the right direction by Sony with the Z in been what a flagship Walkman can be with the new addition of android possibility's but is far from been the perfect player to make it in the Walkman hall of fame.
So bottom line should of been from Cnet even with it just been a review "if you take your music seriously and will use higher codecs than mp3 and will invest in top flight iem's later on to further that experience then buy the Walkman and enjoy the new added bonus of having android app's built in like your phone.
If you are happy with mp3 files and will only ever spend £20 at most on a pair of earphones then look elsewhere please.
Morale of story just to remind Cnet, The Z series is not trying to be a phone with out the phone or is it a handicap to not have a camera as that money is invested into making the Z sound far superior than the touch which is a lifeless music player without soul when you take into consideration it's main task is to play music and then factor in the price for that sub standard SQ, but does have a camera which I do believe has Sony sensors inside?
Despite it's negatives I may still give in to principles and import the 64gb from Japan if the price is right when the dust settles on these Walkmans.
Unless another brand can seriously make a top end dap for under £300??
Good: Everything: Design,Sound Quality,Screen Size...
Bad: Nothing whatsoever
Comment: What is wrong with you CNET? Not everyone wants a camera in an mp3 player. Besides walkmans are known for their sound quality and the camera in the ipod touch isn't exactly a work of art is it? I would far rather have this over the ipod touch as it has a bigger screen and the sound quality is second to none.
Good: Features, looks etc - love it
Comment: My phone's for communication - I want it always to work - no 'damn the battery's outta juice cos I watched that film/lsiteed to those tunes' for me.
My MP4 player's for entertainment.
So I'm OK with 2 devices.
But maybe not at any price...
Bad: everything else
Comment: Good review. Seems like a poor attempt from Sony though.
Log in with your CNET UK or Facebook account to post a user review, or click Join to create an account
Please log in, register or login with Facebook to add a review or comment
Ask your Facebook friends and Twitter followers if you should buy the Sony Walkman Z
More Gadgets in Crave
About CBS Interactive
Copyright © 2014 CBS Interactive Limited. All rights reserved.