This one’s for the joggers out there: a hands-free mp3 player perfect for those who like to listen to music while they run but don’t want a bulky player either in their hands or bouncing around in their pockets. It sports a clever and attractive form factor that looks like two mobile Bluetooth headsets. They magnetically link together when not in use (with the support strap forming a heart shape). The ear buds fit comfortably into the ear and provide decent audio clarity, with the strap hooking around both ears for added support. It certainly does the trick, although I felt like it could slip off on rougher terrain or running downhill where you’re likely to absorb shock more.
Since it comes in such a small form factor, I guess one of the compromises that had to be made was hard-drive space. The NWZ-W252 can store only 2GB worth of mp3s (actually, it’s more like 1.6 once you discount the device’s firmware). Not only this, but the lack of any kind of display means that navigating the onboard music library can be something of a trial-and-error affair. Sony tries to compensate for this somewhat with ‘Zappin’, a feature that allows you to preview brief sections of songs before automatically skipping to the next. If you’re happy to run with your mp3 player on shuffle or having to methodically skip through a host of tracks (sometimes between different artists and albums) to find that certain song, this won’t be an issue. Personally, I prefer more control over my running soundtrack.
The fact that you can’t see the volume and shuffle buttons or the ‘jogging lever’ (a lever that facilitates playback and track skipping) makes device navigation difficult at first. However, I must commend the control layout of this Walkman; it’s basic, intuitive, and really not long before control becomes second nature.
Another nice feature: the NWZ-W252 is completely waterproof so you can wash it under a cold tap after a workout You could even wear it straight into the shower afterwards and listen to a post-run cool-down playlist.
PROS: Extremely lightweight, compact and easy to use. Waterproof and washable – keep listening during your post-run shower!
CONS: Small hard drive will limit your audio library. Finding that specific track can be a chore.
VERDICT: The NWZ-W252 is a functionally excellent solution for joggers provided you’re OK with the following: a relatively small hard drive restricting your music library, and certain control restrictions when it comes to your running soundtrack. If you’re not OK
with that, perhaps you’d best stick to the bulkier thing bouncing around in your pocket as you jog.