Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sony Walkman X-Series 32GB NWZ-X1060B first impressions

Here it is folks, quite possibly the single most important Walkman in Sony's recent history. The X-Series is the first Walkman DAP to feature an OLED screen, WiFi, web browser, digital ANC and S-Master digital amp. And it is a stunner. It is also their first mainstream portable OLED PMP since the Japan exclusive Sony Clie VZ90.

The X-Series I have here is the 32GB model (NWZ-X1060B), but the impression and later review also applies to the X1050 (16GB) and the US-centric models X1061 and X1051 (which has Slacker radio application bundled). The build quality is awesome. It is quite heavy (about the same weight as my Nokia E51), but feels very solid. The OLED screen here is quite simply the most brilliant screen I have ever laid my eyes on. Photographs looks stunning on it. It is a shame that the resolution isn't VGA or above as that would make this a killer PMP.

Usability wise, the UI refresh a bit slower than the S739. For example is draws the album art a fraction of a second after the screen switches. Scrolling through the album art by flicking your finger upwards or downwards is a bit of a gimmick, but it should at least satisfy people into such gimmicks. There is a more traditional approach to selecting albums/genre/artists for people who value function over form. The web browser is also a bit of a downer. I am a huge fan of Netfront browser on Windows Mobile platform, but the lack of advance options and stylus makes it almost unusable. It is also very slow. My advice to potential purchasers of the X-Series interested in web browsing is to only limit yourself to visiting mobile friendly websites.

There is a very small hint of hiss, but nothing as bad as the A818. The sound is definitely warm, quite a surprise as I was initially expecting a digital sound due to the S-Master digital amp. So it was a surprise to hear such Sony-like warm music blasting through my headphone. The amp is also pretty powerful. With my S739, I tend to listen on a 14/30 volume level. Here I can comfortably listen at 11/30. 14/30 on the X1060 is too loud for me. If it helps, I did all my listening test with all enhancements turned off (including Clear Stereo which was enabled by default) via my Sennheiser IE 8. Between the S739 and this, the bass is similar in quantity, but the X1060 is clearer overall. Everything is just clearer with the X1060. I am very impressed.

Review will be posted next week. Please direct any questions in the comments section.

You can pre-order the US versions now. UK residents can get them from Amazon UK for less than RRP.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for being one of the first to post a review on this. Everything I've read so far points to excellent sound & vision, but web browser is still a big concern. Can you elaborate some more on the browser experience? For example, how does the New York Times online newspaper look? Also, does a full keyboard appear on the device, similar to the Apple Touch? Does anyone know if Sony could enhance the web browser situation with a software update, or is it more complex than that? Traveling so much, internationally, without a phone, has me really wanting to be able to pull up a browser while in the airport to check mail and such online. This browser situation will make or break my decision, and I'm just trying to get more info. Thanks!

Jon Choo said...

I did comment about the web browser on my review here, but I'll elaborate further.

The problem with the web browser isn't rendering. Most sites looks fine on it, but the browser as a whole is very very slow and therefor unusable. It is much slower than the the iPhone (which I already find too slow). It doesn't zoom out as much as I prefer so scrolling around is a huge necessity, unless you change the setting to 'just-fit' which scales the website to fit the width of the screen. You can rotate the screen, which helps a lot, but it doesn't help that unlike the iPhone or Touch, the OS here just isn't as powerful as Symbian or Windows Mobile.

There is no full QWERTY keyboard. The only available text input is the alphanumerical keypad with predictive text function. Web related shortcuts are available.

As for updates, Sony hardly ever issue firmware updates for their Walkman, and even if they do, it is only for a bug fix or two. The X-series may be an exception, but it is early days to be sure.

My advice is if you want a good web browsing experience with your DAP, then consider the iPod Touch. I dislike the Apple software lock-in, but I'll give credit where it is due, of all the touchscreen DAPs out there, Safari is the best. And you won't even get WiFi with Cowon's S9 and Samsung's P3...

Personally I use a Nokia E51 which has built-in WiFi, and while the resolution is lower (240x320), the default Nokia browser is wonderful and I always have Opera Mini to fall back on.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the further details concerning the browser. I too dislike the iTunes software required for iPod products. I have tons of vinyl converted to mp3 and iTunes makes it unnecessarily difficult and time consuming to add metadata to tracks. If only this Sony worked the web as cleanly as the Touch... then the device would be a solid purchase. So much for perfection... Oh well, I guess I'll soldier on with my current mp3 player and keep my eyes open for the 'new' Touch rumored to be released in June. Maybe they'll have addressed the sub-par sound quality on that device.
Thanks again.

Jon Choo said...

The alleged Zune HD is rumoured to be worth checking out. Seeing that MS were one of the first manufacturers to integrate WiFi into a DAP, it would be interesting to see how well they build the browser. Mind you Mobile IE truly blows on their WinMob platform, but they have been improving them lately.

Good luck, and thanks for the comments.

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Excellent model that's exactly what I wanted to get because I've heard that the applications are incredible, I'd like to know about prices too..

Viagra said...

That looks like a very cool walkman!