Sony Walkman W-Series Review and Giveaway

When I started running, I had one of those brick Walkman tape recorders with the big foamy yellow headphones that covered my ears. When I was a freshman in high school, that thing kept me company as I walked the 2 mile trip home while listening to tapes one and two of The Wall over and over (no wonder I'm so messed up). I tried running with it and I would attach the belt clip to my shorts which would eventually be dragging around my knees, so that's where that trend started. The tape player turned into the slimmer and more compact CD player, which turned into the iPod which has gotten smaller and more convenient over the years. The one thing that has always bugged me about running with any of these devices are the wires that inevitably get tangled around my neck, arms, and legs. It doesn't matter where I put the player, and I try running the wires through various routes under and around clothing, through homemade holes in shirts, hats, and miscellaneous orifices, the wires always find a way to get tangled up. There are math geniuses that are currently studying this problem (seriously), but in the meantime, Sony has developed a simple solution, and I have come full circle back to the Walkman.

Sony Walkman W-Series Mp3 Player
If you start a discussion among runners about running with headphones, be prepared for some strong opinions. You'd think that you started a discussion on abortion, gun control, or Mitt Romney's hair. This is usually a black and white issue with most runners; some can't run without music, and others despise the existence of earbuds. It is an issue where I am a solid and distinct grey.

I rarely use headphones. When I'm on the trail I like to tune in to my surroundings, not to mention that I am scared of rattlesnakes and mountain lions and I'd rather listen to what is rustling in the bushes than the sweet vocal stylings of The Dan Band. I also like to tune into my running, making sure that I am treading softly and that my breath is controlled. It is rare that running bores me and I usually find something to think about on the run; that's kind of why I'm out there in the first place.

On the other hand, there is a performance benefit to running with music, and if you don't believe me, ask Roger Bannister. There is no way he would have broken the 4 minute mile barrier if it weren't for Master of Puppets blaring through his headphones. Treadmill running is another exception. I simply can't run to the soft 80s mix that wafts lightly through the speakers of the local Y. Robert Palmer, seriously? Did I write that I don't get bored while running? I need to change that. Sometimes on runs over 6 or 7 hours, I start to get a little bored, and having some music or a good podcast has helped me through the Anza Borrego Desert, across the Grand Canyon, and over the Canadian Rockies.

I have been testing the Sony Walkman W-Series over the last few weeks and while I don't use it for every run, I have found that it will be very useful when I need to run on the treadmill and will definitely come in handy next year when I try to tackle some longer races.

What I like:

No wires, except for the wire goes around the back of the neck that connects the two earpieces.

I forget I'm wearing it.

It makes me look like Lobot, and I can pretend I'm doing chores for Lando Calrissian.

It's waterproof, so I can listen to Zeppelin's Rain Song while running in the rain.

The unit I tested is the Meb Keflezighi version, and while it won't make you run like Meb, it comes pre-loaded with running tips from the swift American-Eritrean.

It has an 8-hour battery life, which means I will only have to listen to Jess Downer for about 5 hours when we do the Zion Traverse next year.

It has 2 Gigs of storage, so it holds a lot of songs. At first I loaded it to capacity with a couple hundred songs and dozens of podcasts, but then I couldn't really find what I wanted to listen to. Then I decided to load it with enough songs for a long run and one or two podcasts from and it was a much better running with music experience.

The headphones stay in my ears. This is huge for me because I've never been able to keep earbuds in my ears while running and I'm constantly fidgeting with them. I have had no trouble with that when using the Sony Walkman; must be the no wire effect.

What I'm not crazy about:

The controls. This is a trade-off because the main unit is in your ear rather than clipped onto some part of clothing, and the buttons are small. I'm sure that the more I use it, the more I'll get used to the controls.

It looks like a Bluetooth earpiece, and I've always found those kind of lame. Actually, it looks like two Bluetooth earpieces, one in each ear. If one Bluetooth is lame, a Bluetooth in each ear is kind of badass because you know that guy is way past the point of caring what other people think, so never mind, the look is one of the things I like about the Walkman W-Series.

The last thing is minor, and that is that it has separate software to transfer music to the unit once it is plugged into the computer. It's actually really easy to drag and drop music from iTunes to the unit, I would just prefer it loaded up in iTunes and I could manage the playlist from there.

Sony provided me with two units, one to test, load my music on, and sweat all over, and another which is brand spanking new in the box. I'll give away one of these units, you can chose which one you want.

There are two ways to enter the giveaway (double your chances by doing both):
  1. Like my new page on The Facebook (Sean Parker was totally wrong about dropping the "The.” The Facebook could have been huge). To like it, go here and press "Like," or just press "Like" on the right side of this page. If you were one of the early adopters and already like my page, then thank you, you are already entered.
  2. Want an additional entry? Open up to me (it’s okay, this is a no-judgement zone, stupid) and let me know in the comments section below (not on The Facebook, Grandma, but in the comments below) what is your favorite song to run to. The more embarrassing, the better. Mine is by The Roots, which isn't that embarrassing. Well, it's The Roots on Yo Gabba Gabba singning "Lovely, Love My Family." I love this song and it has gotten me through some low points in races. I'm proud to say that I love Yo Gabba Gabba, it's just like dropping acid without taking drugs. My wife really likes Muno, but I'm not sure why. So, please share your favorite running song in the comments section below.
You can also tweet, post on your blog, and share on The Facebook, but that wont get you more entries because that gets more complicated, and I just can't handle any more options, but I appreciate the good will and it will be good contest karma.

I'll pick a winner next week. Thanks for reading.

Click here for more information about the Sony Walkman W-Series Mp3 player.
Click here for the Sony running community on (including free training plans).

Ratings and Recommendations