Review: Sony Walkman X1051

College is the perfect time to experiment with strange new things. Why not start with a portable media player that isn’t made by Apple?

On the surface, the most unsexily monikered NWZ-X1051 is everything we’d expect from Sony’s next-gen Walkman. It covers the obvious bases (music), sprinkles in some goodies (video playback), and caps it all off with a bright 3-inch OLED touchscreen (fancy!).

As a music powerhouse, the X1051 definitely makes the grade. In addition to supporting the standard file types, Sony threw in both FM radio and internet radio chops, courtesy of Slacker. Although these are great additions in their own right, they made for awesome additions to the X1051’s MP3 chops. Tired of listening to your English Lit lecture? Pop on some tunes. Sick of your selection? Try the radio. No luck there? Then fire up your own personalized radio station via Slacker. With all these options at our disposal there was rarely a moment where we weren’t bumping tunes.

Sony took a similar multi-tiered approach to the video. Not only did the X1051 play back our H.264, MPEG-4 and WMV video files, but it also has YouTube access baked in (Wi-Fi permitting). Though the quality of web video was a bit herky-jerky, it was definitely on par with other mobile devices we’ve used. Otherwise, locally stored video clips ran smoothly and looked great on the 432 x 240 screen.

Unfortunately, the biggest hitch was the web browser. Smallish icons and hyperlinks made navigating with the touchscreen a chore, and for some reason the proprietary browser would slap some funky formatting on the occasional site (cough, ). This was a bit of a downer given the otherwise well-appointed X1051, but ultimately a small price to pay given all the included goodies and the iPod-taunting price point.

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