August 8, 2006 Sony’s next generation sports walkman was unveiled yesterday but with the fanfare surrounding the far more significant MYLO, it’s not surprising that the diminutive S2 Sports Walkman devices might not have seen as much of the spotlight as they deserve, either technologically, or historically. The original Walkman hit the market in Japan in 1979 and arguably began the personal music revolution, with the cassette Walkman selling close to 200 million units before the MP3 player was born. The new S2 Sports Walkman actually offers some unique compelling new functionality for people who are exercising, most significantly the Music Pacer feature gauges your speed, tempo and acceleration, automatically switching to the appropriate personalized walking or running playlist to match your rhythm. The S2 MP3 player is a water resistant aluminum cylinder about the size of a tube of lipstick, weighs about one ounce and comes with its own armband. The 2GB model will cost around US$150 and the 1GB model will cost around US$120 when they hit the shelves next month.
Since the first Sports Walkman was introduced in 1984, Sony has built a fine reputation for durable, water resistant music players and the addition of these new tools specifically designed to enhance a workout program could prove to be important – it’s not that long ago that Apple patented functionality that somehow synched music to exercise-based rhythms, though we’re yet to fully understand how that works and when it might come to market.
Sony's technology is based on its G-Sensor technology, which recognizes speed variation. With the Music Pacer feature, the player gauges your speed and tempo and automatically switches to the appropriate personalized walking or running playlist to match your stride. The Shuffle Shake feature lets you easily and quickly switch to shuffle mode by shaking the player three times within two seconds.
If you want to increase intensity when walking or running, the step, distance and calorie counter features (in sports mode) enable you to track the number of steps taken, the distance travelled and the calories burned. The set target feature allows you to input the amount of time, calories or distance you want to achieve for your workout, so the music will play until the target is accomplished.
The player will record the step count, distance and calories burned history from your last seven workouts, so you can track your progress. You can also use it as a stopwatch to time yourself.
For life at the gym, the FM tuner and quick charge features are essential. The built-in FM tuner not only lets you listen to your favorite radio stations and sets the most visited stations so you can easily and quickly find them, but it can also be used to tune into TV programs playing in many gyms. If you're running late but still want to fit in your workout, all you need is three minutes to charge your player to get up to three hours of playback. At full battery capacity, enjoy up to 18 hours of listening.
The MP3 player is cylindrical in design and fits into the included armband, which straps securely and comfortably around your arm. About the size of a tube of lipstick, the device is water resistant and made of aluminum, weighs about one ounce, and won't weigh you down. Though compact, the players can store up to 1,350 songs on the 2GB model and 685 songs on the 1GB model.
"This is a runner's best friend. You don't need a running buddy because it makes your workout fly by," said Allan Jason, vice president at Sony Electronics. "Research shows that music motivates people to stick to their exercise schedules and lose more weight. With this player, you'll look forward to your next walk or run."
Music Management 101
To simplify the music management process, these new devices support AAC (non-DRM), MP3, WMA (non-DRM), and ATRAC music files. They are compatible with CONNECT Music, the Sony CONNECT online music service and include SonicStage CP software to import, manage and transfer music collections. To make it as easy as possible to quickly download a running and a walking playlist, CONNECT Music offers themed music mixes, including the fast-paced "Sizzling Summer." These playlists are located in the Essential Mixtapes section of the site, available from the home page at www.connect.com.
For added flexibility, the new Walkman player's distinctive one-line organic electroluminescence (OEL) display accommodates both left-handed and right-handed users alike. With its ability to rotate the orientation of the display, track and title names, the time and date, plus other information can now be viewed how ever you prefer.
The devices come with black, sports style headphones and an armband. To enhance the sound, you can set the equalizer to match the type of music you are listening to (jazz, pop, heavy or custom) or simply turn it off.
Pricing and Availability The S2 Sports Walkman music players come in two different capacities:
The NW-S203F player has a total capacity of 1GB and will cost around US$120, and the NW-S205F player has a total capacity of 2GB and will cost around US$150.
The players will be available in September.