When you hear of the name “Walkman“, you will most likely think of portable media players or even, if you are older than two decades, portable cassette tape players. At CES 2016, however, Sony is once again redefining what a Walkman is. It’s still a portable media player in the technical sense but instead of taking the form of a pocketable rectangular box, the Walkman 410 series takes the form of a wearable device. To be exact, in-ear wireless headphones that have been designed with rough handling and rough conditions in mind.
The Walkman WS410 might look like your run of the mill rugged wireless Bluetooth headphones so they might easily be confused with smartphone accessories. However, these devices do run standalone, with the WS414 offering 4 GB of internal storage and the WS413 giving 8 GB. These are truly portable media players that you can take with you and use anywhere, and it has been designed to be such.
For example, the round shape makes a comfortable but strong fit over your ear so you won’t have to worry about it falling off when you jog. It is both salt water proof and dust proof, and of course water proof by extension, so you can take it out while kayaking, swimming, laying on the sand, or maybe even while showering. The WS410 has several features that help in this tough design, like internal terminals that block out foreign particles, rustproof coating, and specially designed waterproof earbuds.
The Walkman WS410’s Ambient Sond mode is also interesting. While many such headsets have noise-cancelling mics, the WS410 somewhat has the opposite. Its mics pick up ambient noise and funnel them to your ear in this special mode. The purpose? So that you can still hear the people around you even while listening to your music. No need to pause and remove your Walkman just to carry on a conversation. Plus, it’s safer too especially when crossing streets.
The Walkman WS413 will carry a price tag of 120 EUR ($130) while the WS414 will go for 110 EUR ($120). Both will be available in Europ starting March.