All signs pointed to a new Sony Walkman (literally) at CES 2015, and the signs didn’t lie. The new Walkman ZX2 is real, and it’s designed exclusively with high-end audiophiles in mind — as Sony puts it themselves, this is “the fruit of continuous refinement in high audio quality technologies.”
A lot of people like the design of the ZX1, Sony’s previous flagship Walkman. I wasn’t one of them. But I love the new ZX2. I love the texture of its matte black casing. I love the playback buttons carved into its curved side — in the little time I’ve had to hold the device, my fingers curled right onto the play, pause, and rewind. It’s heavier than you’d initially expect, in a good way. It’s solid. The distinctive gold-toned headphone jack juts wider than the frame and adjacent to the microSD slot (if you need more than the 128GB of built-in storage).
To be sure, the ZX2 isn’t an all-in-one device. It’s running years-old Android — 4.2 Jelly Bean, to be exact, which first debuted in November 2012. And while you can download and play apps from Google Play, this isn’t meant to match wits with today’s smartphones. Everything around the device is meant for an optimal audio experience. Specs-wise, the new Walkman supports DSD, WAV, AIFF, FLAC, Apple Lossless, and more. It supports Bluetooth for wireless streaming and NFC for one-touch connection to speakers and headphones.
All this high fidelity comes at a price. While the recent Walkman A17 comes in at around $300, the ZX2 will launch in the Spring for over $1,119.99. The Walkman ZX2 is singularly focused on being a premium high-end audio experience — a surprisingly crowded category this year. Daft Punk sounded pretty good through Sony’s own headphones, but I’m not about to pretend I can vouch for the audio fidelity here — a CES show floor is probably one of the worst places to concentrate on any single, coherent sound.