[CES 2012] The Sony Android Walkman was first shown at IFA as a prototype and officially announced on September 13th, when it launched in Japan. Today at CES, Sony is officially launching the Walkman Z series running Android 2.3 (GingerBread) in the US in three flavors: the 32G model at $329.99, the 16G model at $279.99 and the 8G at $249.99.
On the hardware side, the device boasts a 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor that enables 1080p video playback at up to 10 MBps, which the 4.3” WVGA-800×480 multi-touch LCD will not render at full resolution, however, thanks to the HDMI out port, you will be able to play it on your HDTV. TheWalkman Z also supports DLNA, which means you should be able to stream content to other DLNA devices such as HDTVs or compatible tablets such as the Sony S.
On the physical design side, the W button, located on the right side, launches a mini player that provides a practical way to instantly play or stop your music without the need to unlock the OS, wake up the device while in sleep mode or get out of a running application.
Additionally, the curved backside acts as an amplifier when the Walkman Z is placed on a flat surface, causing the sound coming out of the back speaker to bounce in this mini “echo chamber” thus making it more powerful (according to the manufacturer). The curved form factor is supposed to provide a comfortable grip for gaming and typing as well, I will let you try and see for yourself.
On the software side, a number of customizations designed by Sony have been added on top of Gingerbread. The SensMe interface within the W. Music app is beautifully designed and offers to find the perfect track to match your mood according to twelve SensMe channels: morning, daytime, evening, night, midnight, extreme, dance, emotional, mellow, energetic, upbeat, relax, lounge and shuffle all (aka lazy mood). Additionally, the W. Music app displays cover art in full screen, delivering an immersive visual experience while playing songs. Sony could not confirm that the Walkman Z will get an Ice Cream Sandwich software update, although the company might consider the possibility.
The device comes with Music Unlimited, Sony’s own music streaming service that works over wifi. Since the player is Android-based, you will have access to other services such as MOG, Spotify, Rdio, Slacker, Rhapsody and more.
On the audio side, Sony crammed nine sound technologies in the media player including S-Master MX (full digital reproduction of audio, noise reduction and distortion eraser), DSEE (high frequencies restoration), Clear Bass (reproduces deep bass sounds without distorsion), Clear Stereo (prevent audio signals leaking between left and right channels), Speaker XLOUD (high sound level with small speakers).
Key Features and Technologies
- Processor 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2
- Multi-touch LCD 4.3” WVGA-800×480 resolution
- Android OS 2.3 (Ginger Bread)
- Video playback: capable of decoding 1080p quality videos at a bitrate of up to 10Mbps
- Qriocity Service Compatible
- S-Master, DSEE, Clear Bass, Clear Stereo
- Speaker XLOUD Technology
- HDMI out
- YouTube HD
- FM Radio
- Internet Radio
- Connectivity with Sony Devices
- Intuitive UI
- •DLNA Compatibility
• Android Games
• Android Marketplace
• Select App
• Built-in Mic
• GPS receiver
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