(Pocket-lint) - We caught it as a prototype at IFA 2011 in Berlin, but it wasn't until the Android-running Sony Walkman Z series hit CES that it became a reality and a chance for Pocket-lint to go hands on with this suped-up media player.
A match up of the iPod touch, this dedicated Walkman device offers a 4.3-inch display and runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Sure, the quality of games might not be as good as on iOS, but the added screen size will certainly come into play. On the plus side, the Nvidia Tegra 2 SoC inside makes whatever games that you do end up with running smoother than a cashmere codpiece.
Sony’s software reflects what we’ve seen previously on its new tablets - the S and the P - with some of the same features evident in the video player, letting us skip through scenes of a movie and the option to share it with the TV via DLNA or via the HDMI-out.
On the music front, a dedicated Walkman-logoed button on the side launches you straight into the music player and the quality of the S-Master amp inside seems to be better than your average smartphone. Headphones, of course, make a massive difference but there was a certain balance and richness of sound that we couldn't help find impressive.
What was a touch annoying on the music playback front was the difference between the music app that Sony wants you to use and the music app that comes with Android as standard. Both sound the same, ultimately, but it's a touch confusing in terms which is which and when you're using them. It might be worth uninstalling the standard version and selling yourself to the Sony UI.
We understand that a media player is going to be missing the phone app, but taking away the camera seems a bit unnecessary. Instead, you get an okay set of built-in stereo speakers but it's probably not worth the trade off. The real wind-up, though, is that, for some reason, there's no micro USB to charge through and instead you get some proprietary nonsense. And we thought Sony had given that up a few years ago when it dropped those silly memory cards.
The Sony Walkman Z will be available in 8GB, 16GB and 32GB sizes and each comes backed up with the company's Music Unlimited service for discovery and streaming.