For a good deal of the 1980s and 90s, Sony's Walkman and Discman players ruled the portable audio roost, and it was almost a given that the company would go on to dominate the world of mobile digital music devices, too. Although Apple emerged victorious in that respect, the Walkman brand has stuck in there and currently has three models listed amongst Amazon's top 50 MP3 players. The latest B-Series additions feature a one-touch bass boost button, a quick charge feature and something called ZAPPIN song search technology.
More of a jogging/training companion than a digital media center, the new Sony Walkman B-series additions weigh less than an ounce (28g) and have USB pendrive-like dimensions of 3.54 x 0.91 x 0.59-inch (90 x 23.3 x 15.2 mm). The players support both MP3 and non-DRM WMA audio formats, have a built-in USB connector, and benefit from simple drag and drop file transfer to and from a PC.
The three-line horizontal backlit LCD is not capable of rendering video content, but if you do want something to watch while you listen, the color-matched LED power illuminator will pulse to the rhythm of the music. Pressing the boost button is claimed to deliver even more low end to the already rich, full bass that Walkmans are known for, and a 5-band equalizer with one custom setting allows for some personalized sonic flavoring.
Users can search for music by genre, artist, album and so on, but engaging the ZAP button offers a quick preview of each track for those moments when you can't remember the name of the song you want.
Sony claims an 18-hour battery life for the players, but a three-minute quick charge will provide enough juice for 90 minutes of playback.
The B-series additions come in five color options and will be available in the UK from June. The NWZ-B162/B162F model has 2GB of onboard memory and is priced at GBP29 (US$47). The NWZ-B163/B163F has 4GB of storage and costs GBP35 (US$57).