Sony Walkman NWZ-W273S Review
The original W-Series was introduced back in 2009 and it brought a new design approach to Sony, a Walkman and headphones in one. Jump 5 years ahead and Sony has expanded the W-Series to include the WH-Series and WS-Series. I was always curious how the W-Series would work as a daily Walkman but I was hesitant to spend the money on it since I had other Walkmans already, and the limited storage capacity. Fortunately I was able to get my hands on a W273 for about 3 weeks and test it out. So does the W-Series live up to the hype Sony has put on it? Full review after the break.
Build and Design
Comparing the W270 to the previous models, the W200, W250 and W260, I feel the W270 is second after the W260 in terms of design. The W260 looks more sportier and premium versus the straightforward design of the W270. Still the W270 is built with descent materials and felt like it should withstand most scenarios thrown at it. The walkman is lightweight and while it takes some getting used to when wearing it, after a day or two, you won't notice it at all. The walkman comes with 4 different sizes of ear buds (S, M, L, LL) and an adjustment band. The band is used to permit better positioning and fitting, personally I did not need to use it.
One of the first problems I encountered was the ear buds falling out of my ears but I solved this by using a smaller size of ear buds. Apart from that, getting used to the controls took longer than I expected. This was down due to using standard Sony walkmans for many years and having memorized the button layout, I could operate them blindly. But once I got used to the controls, I had no other problems.
The charging port is found on the inside of the right headphone, 4 metal strips which come in contact with the charging mechanism found on the cradle.
I was surprised how good the W270 sounds. While there are no sound enhancements or equalizers here as in other walkmans, this was not an issue. Lows were plenty, mids nice and warm and the highs just as good. The 13.5mm drivers definitely help but I am sure there is some audio enhancements built in which improve the sound. Volume level was more than adequate but I feel some users will find it too quiet, after all as a European walkman, it has its volume level limited unfortunately. Regardless, there was nothing about the sound which bothered me and I was quite pleased how the W270 sounded.
I did not use the walkman while swimming, so I have no idea how well the sound works when in a pool, but I feel the waterproof feature also has its benefits when outside running in the rain which some people still do, I do not. I am all for waterproofing or resistance, I wish my MDR-BT20N had it and same for the forthcoming M-Series.
On the right side, you have the power and lock switch on the front of the device. On the bottom, there are play/pause and the forward/backwards controls. A reset switch is also located just in case. The play/pause has a tiny dimple which permits easier tactile feel.
On the left side, the volume, playlist and shuffle controls are located on the bottom. A similar dimple is found on the volume controls, specifically the volume up.
Day to day use
As I mentioned before, it takes a few days to become used to the controls. Once I mastered them it was a a breeze using the W270. I tended not to use the controls much, once the music started playing, I just let it keep going. There is playlist support, but I did not use it; it works like in other walkmans, you can create the playlists using windows explorer and add songs. If there was more storage (16GB), I feel I would make use of the playlist function more often.
While I never ran out of battery (after a full charge), the max 8 hour battery life might be an issue when traveling with the walkman, either long flights or long train journeys. But then such use was never meant for the W-Series. I did test the 3 min charge for 60 min of use, and I had mixed results, sometimes it went for more than an hour, but mostly it did not make the full hour, not sure why. I would recommend charging it at least for 5-10 minutes before using it if you are in a bind.
I did not use Zappin playback at first but quickly grew to like it and used the feature throughout the entire test period. The way it works is you hold the play/pause key for more than 1 second during normal play. Next you have the option of using short or long previews. This is selected again by long pressing the play/pause for more than 1 second to change from short to long and back again. To exit the zappin mode, during playback, just press the play/pause button. This is a useful feature, once you hear the song you want, you press play/pause and the song plays. The same feature is found on the WH-Series which I am also in the middle of reviewing.
The small W270 was a pleasant surprise. It offered almost everything I needed in a walkman, portability and great sound. But of course this does not mean it was perfect. The limited capacity of 4GB was not enough for me and it filled up pretty quickly, the lack of bluetooth while not a deal breaker, would be a nice feature to have. Battery life was more than enough and there were times when I only had the charge the player once every 3-4 days. Overall Sony did a great job with the W-Series and I am glad they have kept updating it the past 5 years. While I will not miss using it for everyday use, I will miss having it when working out.
So should you buy it? This depends, if you want a good mp3 player for working out and running, then this is the walkman to choose, but if you want something for longer journeys or less obvious, then I feel the normal S or E-Series would be a better choice. The other option is the newly released WS-Series which features 16GB and bluetooth, but is still on pre-order and is more expensive.
Stay tuned for more reviews, I am currently testing the WH-Series (16GB) and have ordered the M-series which should arrive tomorrow.