The annual Consumer Electronics Show is meant to focus on the future of technology, but Sony is bringing back a new version of a long-obsolete vintage gadget: the Walkman.
The company’s new ZX2 Walkman is said to cost about $US1,100, according to reports from The Verge and CNBC, although a Sony representative told Business Insider it hasn’t decided on a final price or release date just yet.
Sony has been pushing out new Walkman models for the past few years, but this year’s release has an entirely new design and uses a technology called high-resolution audio.
High resolution audio enables music to sound better because it doesn’t compress the file that much. The more you compress a music file, the poorer the audio quality.
Sony described it to us like this — imagine you have a sheet of paper, and you need to give it to someone 20 feet away from you without moving closer to them.
Simply throwing the sheet of paper wont work, you’d need to crumple it up into a ball. But, once you do that, the paper becomes wrinkled and its quality is compromised. That’s how compression works with audio and video files, too.
I listed to a few Michael Jackson songs at Sony’s booth, and the audio quality truly did sound amazing. The bass was powerful enough to add some depth to the song without being overwhelming. The vocals sounded much crisper and clearer than anything I had heard when streaming music through my iPhone.
To get the full benefit of the ZX2 however, you really need to have a great pair of headphones and you need to make sure you’re downloading high resolution audio files.
On its website, Sony lists a few services such as iTrax and HDTrack.com that offer high resolution audio downloads. But don’t expect to stream or download music from Spotify and have the same sound quality.
The Sony ZX2 runs on Android, which means you can do a lot of the same things you’d normally do on an Android phone such as downloading apps from the Google Play Store.
The device is encased in leather and seems a bit bulky, but even after holding it for just a few minutes I could tell the build quality was fantastic. It’s a bit heavy, but it’s clearly not meant to be a device that you take along with you during your morning workout — rather, it’s a luxury device for audiophiles. We expect to learn more about it later this year.