Sony all but pioneered the portable audio industry back in the 80s with the iconic Walkman, but the definition of "portable" has definitely changed since then. Today's runners or gym junkies wouldn't dream of carrying a big box in their pockets, so the newest device to carry the brand builds the whole kit into a waterproof pair of earbuds, adding a few new features over the last model, including more storage space, dust-proofing and an Ambient Sound mode.
The current in-earbud Walkman Sports line has been around since 2013, and in that time it's shrunk in physical size and grown in capacity. This new WS620 series is 35 percent smaller than its predecessor, and its "fit" has apparently been improved, to make sure it stays in place during whatever vigorous activity you're up to. On the storage capacity front, the newest model can hold up to four times as many songs thanks to its 16 GB memory, although it can also play media from a smartphone via Bluetooth.
The waterproof Walkman can withstand being submerged in water or saltwater for 30 minutes to a depth of 2 m (6.6 ft), and can operate in a temperature range of between 23° F and 113° F (-5° C and 45° C). The new model adds "dust-proof" to the checklist, with an IP6X rating keeping small particles like sand from getting in where they don't belong.
Since it's designed to be used out and about, the new model adds Sony's Ambient Sound, which has shown up in some of its other, less sporty headphones. Activated with a single touch, the mode lets in noise from the outside world – it may sacrifice the purity of the music, but it's a good tradeoff to ensure a listener can hear approaching traffic.
Battery life is listed at 12 hours, but a three-minute quick charge can top up the battery enough for a one hour workout.
The new Walkman Sports comes in two models, the WS623 with 4 GB and the WS625 with 16 GB. The WS625 includes a ring remote commander and only comes in black, while the 4 GB WS623 comes in blue, yellow or white options. The devices are due in June, starting at US$149 for the WS623 model.