If you’re like me who get bored when running alone, listening to music is a necessity especially on long distance running sessions. In the early years, I used wired earphones but the swinging wires do become an inconvenience sometimes and have the tendency to breakdown easily (usually losing one of the speakers). Then I switched to bluetooth earphones and one of the best one I tried was the QCY brand. It didn’t last long though as one of the speakers stopped working. Next one I used was the Samsung Level Active bluetooth earphones that was bundled with smartphones. It was suppose to be water resistant, but it wasn’t able to withstand sweat and it just stopped working completely. I was eyeing the Sony Walkman NW series for quite a long time. I like that it is neither connected via bluetooth nor wire, it’s a stand alone mp3 player that has its own battery and storage (this one is 4 GB). No need to use your smartphone. The only problem was it’s quite expensive with the price range of a brand new unit at 4,500 to 4,999 php. Luckily, there was a Sony summer sale last year and I was finally able to convince myself that it is time to buy it at the low price of 3,999 php (that’s 1,000 pesos off the SRP). Here’s my review of the product one year later.
SOUND QUALITY (rating 4/5)
It’s not just crystal clear, it’s as clean as my hematuria-free urine on my off (running) days. The treble and bass is just right, perfectly balanced even. I don’t hear any distortions and if there are it was caused by poor quality mp3 files and not the speakers. It can also be used for swimming, but I never tested it on a pool so I have no idea what it sounds like. But, for running it’s very good.
DESIGN and BUILD QUALITY (rating 4/5)
It looks like a heart! who wouldn’t love it? It fits well and doesn’t get loose or bounce while running. It also comes with ear buds with various sizes to fit your needs (remember, it’s not about the size, it’s how you use it) and for swimming. And since it still works fine after a year of frequent use and sweaty abuse, it’s a testament of the mp3 player’s durability compared to the wired and bluetooth earphones I used in the past (all of them a few months). There is only one flaw design though and it’s the rubber cover near the speakers (photo below), one of them got loose. It doesn’t seem like it will cause any problems, but it sliding up sometimes is not a pleasing sight.
The controls are simple and placed with ease of use in mind. Power, Play/Pause, Next and Previous buttons on one side and the volume, mode, and ambient sound mode on the other. The ambient sound mode is a special feature that lets you hear the sounds of your surroundings. This is a safety feature that when activated allows you to hear beeping cars and the other noises of your surroundings. I don’t use it much, but it works okay.
The mode button is used to toggle shuffle mode or folder mode. You cannot create a play list, but if you connect it to a PC, you can create folders to separate genre or create a folder of your favorite sounds.
Overall design is excellent. It has all the protection you need, water (including salt water), dust, and temperature proofing. And although it has some rubber parts, it does not offer the rubber protection that you need when you’re in heat. The controls placed to be easily recognized and the buttons have that crispy, mechanical clicking feel. It’s so easy to use that it would take a dumb cave troll to use it wrong.
BATTERY LIFE (5/5)
Battery life is excellent. Most bluetooth earphones will last 5 to 8 hours, this mp3 player can last up to 12 hours (according to Sony). I haven’t tested it that long, but I know it can last more than 9 hours of frequent use including skipping and repeating tracks. I once used it on a marathon non-stop for almost 5 hours and it still have a lot of juice before it needs recharging. It is quick charging and according to Sony, a 3 minute charge can give you up to 60 minutes of playback. A full charge is somewhere between 1.5 to 2 hours.
FINAL THOUGHTS (Overall score 4.3/5)
There are more expensive versions of this that offers 8 GB storage and another one that has bluetooth connectivity, but I think this is the right one for runners. Four gigabyte of storage is more than enough for me (in fact, I still have 2 GB of available storage space) and I don’t need bluetooth to connect it to my smart phone because all the music I need is in the mp3 player. This is more practical than bluetooth earphones because of the battery life and your smartphone will save energy because you don’t have to connect to the earphones. It’s a tough, all-around mp3 player without compromising comfort and sound quality so I highly recommend. Get one especially if it’s on sale.
UPDATE: The right speaker doesn’t emit sound anymore. I think it happened some time in the third week of May 2021. I expected this would happen as with most wired and non-bluetooth earphones, but it’s good that it lasted 3 years and has been through two marathons and many long runs before it broke. I still use it, the sound from the left speaker is still loud, it’s not just stereo anymore.