Given my somewhat new exposure to running with music, I thought it would be helpful to provide an unbiased review of their product. I consider this a very relevant product to anyone involved in endurance sports.
So let's get started with the basics.
The packaging is pretty straightforward. Inside you'll find:
- the actual Walkman unit
- a USB cable to transfer music from your computer to the unit and charge the battery
- three sets of ear buds to ensure a secure fit for your ear size
- a compact carrying case
Well, I am proud to say that I had the Walkman loaded with music in no time! The unit is essentially plug and play - plug the USB adapter into the Walkman at one end and into the computer at the other. Once the computer recognizes the unit, the Content Transfer software pops up and you can literally drag and drop music into the player. Super simple - just the way I like it!
Additional features include:
- 2 GB capacity - plenty of space for tons of music for those long runs
- it's light! the total weight: 1.5 oz
- 11 hrs of battery life on a full charge, but if you forget to charge it in advance 3 minutes will give you a 90 minute quick battery charge
- No wires to mess with
- Water resistant design ensures all you super sweaty people won't mess up the player.
Ok, so now that you know the specs, you're probably wondering how it held up when put to the test.
I'll explain that through a few criteria I felt important:
Most sports headphones come in one of three methods of fitting in your ear: 1) Loop with a clip behind each ear 2) Placed directly into the ear 3) Some type of connecting piece between the left and right side. The Walkman W-Series uses the connecting pieces method. This has the distinct advantage of staying in your ear (versus those other methods which I've experienced mixed results).
Initially, I had a bit of an issue getting the ear piece sizing to work. I tried all 3 sizes on the ear plugs and no matter which size I used, my right ear piece never wanted to stay put and would bounce a bit. However, the workaround I discovered for this is to flip the unit, so the left side goes in the right ear and right side goes in the left ear. Note: Rebecca didn't have any issues with the fit, so she wore it as intended.
Just like a Bluetooth - Note that I am wearing it opposite as it is intended per my workaround
After making this change, I haven't had a single issue on ANY of my runs. I've put it through a few runs in the past week when it was high humidity in the upper 80s (read: very sweaty) and everything stayed put. I've also run intervals down in the low 6:00 to sub-6:00 pace range and everything has worked perfectly.
Typically, I don't bother with music while running because I want to be able to focus on the running and not be distracted by the millions of potential issues (and resulting frustrations) that wearing headphones can cause. But, with the Walkman W-Series weighing in at a mere 1.5 ounces, you barely feel it in your ear. Once I got the fit correct, I found myself in the middle of runs forgetting that I had anything there (except for the fact that I still heard music playing). I'm not exactly a fan of how I look when running with them in, but given that they are small enough and light enough to barely notice that they are there, I can deal with the look in favor of the feel without having to worry about wires banging around or ear pieces popping out. .
Running with music also brings up the issue of safety. I've never been a very big fan of running with music simply because you are tuned out from yourself and those around you. I've had a lot of run-ins (literally) with people out on the trails who were playing music so loud that they were not aware I was there. While wearing the W-Series, I was able to hear regular street noise even when the music was turned up. I've played with various volume settings and was always able to hear myself and my surroundings. Last week when I went for a run, Rebecca rode along side on her hybrid bike and I was able to carry on a conversation with her and still listen to my music at a reasonable volume setting.
Side note: it was fun to be out there running hard tempo paced intervals and still have someone to talk to (even if I was barely talking due to the whole tempo running thing).
The various buttons on the unit are of reasonable size and can be found on the ear pieces (see picture).
The toggle button controls both the on/off setting (push down), while that same button can be triggered forward or backward to advance or replay a song. Similarly, another set of buttons on the same ear control the volume. On the other ear piece is a small button that allows you to change the playback mode from playing songs in order as a playlist to shuffle mode. Once you figure out where the buttons are, there isn't much thought needed. It is pretty simple to use.
Even while running fast, I found it easy to select songs I wanted to hear and change the volume setting. Both the operation of the unit while running and the setup process proved to be fool proof -- as evidenced by my ability to be up and running within 5 minutes of opening the box. I consider that a major bonus!
Plus, if you've ever been in the situation where you were about to head out the door and discovered a dead battery (this happens all the time with my other music player), just plug the W-Series into the computer and by the time you finish doing some dynamic stretches or waiting for your GPS to locate its satellite, your music player is ready to go for that run. How is that possible? Within 3 minutes of charging it will give you 90 minutes of use so you'll be out the door in no time. I'm happy to say that the claimed battery life of 11 hours from a full charging session holds up extremely well between runs.
I think the W-Series is a great option for all runners interested in listening to music while working out, whether you're headed outside or to the gym. The hassle-free nature of the Walkman lets you focus simply on running without the risk of downtime to fix common issues associated with those other music players ( those irksome tangled wires, ear pieces falling out, etc.) When I go for long runs, I already need hydration and gels, which take up valuable real estate in my pockets. Since the whole device is strictly a headset, there is no need for anything else. Just put them on and run!
If you've made it this far, congrats! As a reward, Sony has provided two units to give away. I'm not trying to make things tricky with the contest rules, so a simple comment will get you 1 entry. However, I would also like to give you a few other ways to get additional entries.
- For 1 Entry: Leave a comment below.
- For 2 Entries: Leave a comment AND follow my blog using the RSS feature in the upper right sidebar
- For 3 Entries: Do both of the above AND tell me your favorite "go to"song.
That's it! - So post a comment, follow my blog, and tell me your favorite song for the best chance to win! Make sure to write the number of entries in your comment.
- This contest only open to US and Canada residents
- You may provide comments through midnight EST Monday May 9
- The winner will be chosen at random using the number generator at random.org
- I'll post the results in a separate post shortly after the winner is selected
Giveaway Rests here
More great news: Now, if you didn't win, there is still a chance for you to get yourself a unit at a discounted rate. Sony Electronics has created an exclusive section within their SonyStyle.com online store where you can receive a special discount on the Walkman W-Series. All you have to do is click on the link and you will have an opportunity to purchase the W-Series for $48.99 (originally $60).
Discount link: www.sony.com/runningmate
If any other companies would like their products reviewed, please send me an email