Sony Walkman W-ZX707 and NW-A306: Price, release date and what you need to know

Japanese company's cassette-based player credited with revolutionising the portable music market

A Sony Walkman on display at a company booth at an electronics show in Las Vegas. AP
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Japanese technology manufacturer Sony has rolled out its two latest music players — the NW-ZX707 and the NW-A306 models — to attract new customers to its Walkman, which ruled the music industry in the 1980s and 90s.

“Both players are designed for listeners to enjoy music the way the artist intended with high-quality sound with a sleek design,” Sony said.

The Tokyo-based company, which launched its first cassette-based Walkman, the TPS-L2, in 1979, is credited with revolutionising the portable music market and changing the way people listen to music.

The National explores the new Walkman models and looks at their competition in today's market.

Nostalgia mixed with modern tech

Walkman is a portable audio player brand produced and sold by Sony since 1979. The company’s first Walkman was a portable cassette player that transitioned its presentation and technology over the years into CD, mini-disc, MP3s and eventually music streaming.

Sony sold about 200 million cassette-based Walkmans before retiring them in 2010. However, the total number for all devices under the Walkman brand is more than 400 million, according to different reports.

More juice to last more than a day

The new models come with a longer battery life compared to previous iterations to ensure listeners can immerse themselves in more music.

The NW-ZX707 has a battery life of up to 25 hours, while the NW-A306 has a battery life of up to 36 hours, the company said.

They come with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that can be fully charged in 3.5 hours from a computer using a USB cable.

Android 12 and Wi-Fi support

Both models are supported by the latest Android 12, Google-owned operating system and are compatible with Wi-Fi connectivity.

Android 12, which was launched in October 2021, allows users to access various music-playing apps available on the Google Play Store. Users can download music and stream from several services including YouTube and Spotify.

“This stylish and compact music player lets consumers download and stream more of the music they love,” Sony said.

Besides enjoying streaming services and music apps on the Walkman, users can also connect the device to their personal computers to gain access to their own music collection.

How big is the new model?

With a 3.6-inch display, the NW-A306 models weighs only 113 grams and comes with a 32GB memory. The NW-ZX707 has a 5-inch screen and weighs about 227 grams, offering an enhanced memory of 64GB.

How Apple’s iPods drove innovations in Sony’s Walkmans

Apple's iPod, a device that upended the music and electronics industries more than two decades ago, is no more, but it fuelled innovations in Sony’s Walkman at regular intervals.

In 2004, the Walkman entered the hard disk music player arena to compete with iPod. Starting from close to $400, the company unveiled a palm-sized device that could store up to 13,000 songs on 20GB.

At the 2011 Internationale Funkausstellung, Sony unveiled an Android-based Walkman to compete with the iPod Touch that allowed users to gain access to apps available on Apple’s App Store.

Called the Walkman Mobile Entertainment Player, the new gadget allowed customers to use various music apps through the Google Play Store.

Using high-definition multimedia interface technology, users could also play games and videos stored on the Walkman on any HDMI-equipped TV.

Similar to iPod Touch’s AirPlay technology, Sony introduced “throw” technology in 2011 that allowed the Walkman to find a local compatible device and stream content directly on them.

In May last year, Apple announced that it would discontinue the iPod Touch, the last remnant of a product line that first went on sale in October 2001.

Price and availability

NW-A306 will start from about $430, while the NW-ZX707 will cost $820, more than many smartphones on the market. Both products will be available in select markets in Asia and Europe.

The company expects the new products to add to its profitability. Its net income jumped by 24 per cent on a yearly basis to about $1.78 billion in the quarter that ended in September last year.

Updated: January 18, 2023, 5:22 AM