This morning, Sony had a breakfast event showcasing a heap of their CES products - well, the ones that we're actually getting in Australia. Among the lucky products looking to spend the rest of their lives in Australia are the W Series Walkman and the X Series Walkmans, and we managed to have a hands on with both, and in particular the ZAPPIN function on the W series.ZAPPIN, is essentially a method of finding tracks on a screenless MP3 player like the around-the-neck W series. Instead of forcing you to cycle through all of your songs to find the one you want to listen to, when you switch it on, it will play a 5 second clip of each song from about 30 seconds into the track. When you come across Eye of the Tiger (or any other track you might want to listen to), you simply press the play button and it will start the song from the beginning.
On the W series, to turn on ZAPPIN you press and hold the little control nub for a couple of seconds, before you're greeted with a cool female voice which announces you are, and I quote, "Zappin' In". The fact that it skips to about 30 seconds in (although apparently you can adjust this setting somehow) means that on most tracks you can easily pick what song it is. Then, when you press the button again, the same cool female voice tells you you're "Zappin Out" before the music begins to play.
It's a cool feature that really suits all those screenless MP3 players that sporty people seem to like. As for the W series itself - well, the design is a bit fiddly to get into your ear, but once it's in there, it's comfortable and secure. The controls are easy to navigate once you get used to where they are (you won't be taking the player off to find the pause button) and the magnetic clasp is so addictive to pull apart and stick together again, I was beginning to think I might suffer a mild form of OCD.
At the moment, there's still no price on any of the new Walkmans, but they will all launch in April.