The S in the new Sony Walkman S Series apparently stands for sensing. When Fujio Nishida talked about it, I thought the thing actually sensed your mood by some kind of magical sensors (which actually would have been amazingly cool) to play songs to match them. Unfortunately, you have to select the mood you are in from a list of eleven, which include themes like "Energetic", "Relax", "Upbeat" or "Hot as a Horny Bunny".
The good: light, very thin (7.5mm thick), good finish in brushed aluminium for the faces and plastic for the rim. High quality earphones included, which actually sound very good unlike those other headphones included in you-know-who's MP3 players. Good battery life, in theory: 40 hours of audio playback, 10 of video in its 2-inch screen. The mood sensing technology analyses the music and makes a playlist on the fly. In theory, it sounds good.
The bad: If it does it using only the beat per minute rate, we are in for a problem, because I can think of quite a bit of pretty sad and depressing songs with high bpm, and happy ones with low bpm rates. I don't like the menu system, which makes the whole thing look and act as a Sony Ericsson phone.
Bottom line: It feels like a good competitor for the iPod nano. The quality is good, the form factor is better than Apple's offer, and it the mood sensing feature may make this a winner for those people obsessed with music and moods (that would be me). If it works. By the way, for those of you looking for the same package, but only a bit smaller and without the mood sensing and customisation options of the S Series, there's the E series. [More IFA 2008 Coverage]