New Android 12-powered Sony Walkmans: cool looks and high prices
Retro tech with a very modern updateBy Rob Thubron 35 comments
What just happened? If you remember recording songs from the radio onto cassette so you could listen to them later using a chunky portable tape player, here's some nostalgia-fuelled good news: Sony has released two new versions of its iconic Walkman. But there's no need to carry a pencil to fix any unspooled cassettes; these are the latest Android-powered devices from a series that Sony has been making for the last decade.
Like other digital music players, the NW-A300 and NW-ZX700 can play streamed and downloaded music. They're powered by Android 12, enabling support for apps such as Spotify, and, according to Sony, offer "evolutionary sound."
The much cheaper of the two Walkmans, the NW-A300, costs 46,000 yen (about $360) in Japan and 399 euros (about $430) in Europe. It has a small 56.6 × 98.5 × 12 mm footprint that Ars Technica notes is about the size of a pack of cards, a 3.6-inch 1280 × 720 (60 Hz) touchscreen LCD, Wi-Fi 802.11AC, and Bluetooth 5. Port-wise, there's USB-C 3.2 Gen1, a MicroSD slot, and a headphone jack.
The NW-A300 is powered by an unnamed quad-core Qualcomm SoC with 4GB of RAM. Sony promises 36 hours of 44.1 kHz FLAC playback and up to 32 hours of 96 kHz FLAC High-Resolution Audio playback, though that's presumably with the screen turned off.
The high-end NW-ZX700 model is aimed at audiophiles, something reflected in its 104,500 yen ($818) price. Sony tries to justify that amount by adding a proper audio amplifier and large capacitors that power the analog audio output. It sports an 11nm Qualcomm QCS4290 with eight Kryo 260 CPUs and an Adreno 610 GPU, a 5-inch 1280 × 720 screen, 64GB of storage, and 23 hours of audio playback. There's also a 4.4 mm "balanced" audio jack sitting alongside the standard 3.5mm port.
Unsurprisingly, the NW-ZX700 is much larger at 72.6 × 132 x 17mm. Like the cheaper model, it has an S-Master HX digital amplifier chip. Both Walkmans use Sony's Artificial Intelligence-powered Edge-AI and DSEE Ultimate (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) to upscale compressed digital music files to a higher quality, and include a feature that adds vinyl sounds to a track. There's also a special cassette tape user interface and screensaver.
Both Walkmans are set to launch in Japan this February.