Sony Walkman MP3 NWZ-W262 Review

Sony Walkman MP3 NWZ-W262 in use by cyclist Matthew Steinhoff

I’m a complete sucker for free stuff so when my Klout score was high enough for Sony to offer me a Sony Walkman NWZ-W262 for review, I said ‘yes, please’.

Then, I got the Sony Walkman MP3 player in the mail and it just sat on the dining room table for weeks. I couldn’t bring myself to break open the package. When I’m cycling, I typically don’t have anything in my ears. When I do choose to engage in audio, it is with SanDisk Sansa because it is cheap (as low as $25 from Woot), has physical buttons, long battery life and seems indestructible having been dropped and rained on several times.

Finally I got to feeling guilty and was doing a solo ride so I gave the Sony Walkman a shot.

Sony-Walkman-NWZ-W262 Unboxing


It was just as easy to load music on the Sony Walkman as it was the Sansa. This is great news. Other companies (I’m looking at you, Apple), make you load proprietary software. Not the Sony. All I did was plug it into a USB port and my computer saw it as a drive. I dragged and dropped my usual music selection and some podcasts onto the Walkman and it was good to go. Nice.

Sony Walkman: Comfortable, Secure Fit

The Sony Walkman fit like a glove. The earpieces were secure in my ears and very comfortable. Best of all, I didn’t pick up any wind noise like I do with normal ear buds. These things were great at keeping out ambient noise. (Which, at best is illegal in my state and, at worse, is likely to get me killed in traffic. But, hey, that isn’t Sony’s fault. (Unless I get killed in traffic in which case I’m suing them for creating a faulty and clearly negligent product.))

I had never really noticed how annoying earbud wires were until I rode with the Sony Walkman. No wires snaked down my jersey to the player was a big improvement. I was worried that the Walkman would fall off when I removed one ear so I could still hear traffic but it fits snugly enough that I’m not worried about losing the device.

Good Button Placement, Easy to Use With Gloves

The buttons were easy to find and use with full-fingered cycling gloves. Unlike a touch screen which is iffy in gloves (see also: iPod), the physical buttons worked like a charm. I had no trouble skipping tracks and adjusting the volume while in motion.

Battery life was good. On a half-hour charge right out of the box, I was able to do a two-hour ride and still have a few hours of juice later in the week.

What’s Not to Like?

There is no visual track indicator nor is it possible to queue tracks.

I listen to a lot of podcasts while on the road and most of them have the same audio intro. Sometimes I have to get two or three minutes in to be able to tell if I have heard the podcast already. If I had a screen, I could easily see that I’ve already listened to the May 7 podcast and go onto the next. Still, I’m willing to forgo the visual track indicator because there simply isn’t room for it nor would it help this product with its target audience.

The audio cueing, however, is a problem. Let’s say I started listening to a two-hour podcast at work on my computer and am 30-minutes in before I hop on my bike. I’d really like the ability to press and hold the ‘track forward’ button and have it fast-forward in the track. That would allow me to guestimate my way into the track to the unlistened to part. This should be an easy software change for Sony. I realize I’m probably in the minority for this feature but I don’t see how adding this minor software tweak would negatively impact the Walkman’s core audience.

Sony Walkman MP3 Player Review Summary

I really didn’t expect to like the Sony Walkman: too much overlap with known-good product (Sandisk Sansa), a smartphone (Motorola Droid) and in an untested (for me) form factor. After a couple rides worth of testing, it may have replaced the Sansa. I really like the lack of cables and that it really blocks out the wind noise. I’ve tried a number of earbuds ranging in price from $4 to $45 and none have as good of fit as the Sony Walkman. All signs point to long-term durability similar to the SanDisk.

Nice job, Sony and thanks to Klout for hooking me up.

HERO Wounded Warrior 1,200-Mile Ride

Jeff Masters takes a moment of silence, having finished the 1,200-plus-mile Wounded Warrior Charity Bike Ride.

Jeff Masters takes a moment of silence, having finished the 1,200-plus-mile Wounded Warrior Charity Bike Ride.

A year or so ago, Jeff Masters was telling me about a 1,200-plus-mile bike ride he was planning. I nodded in all the right places and wished him the best. You see, every cyclist has an epic ride in the works the same same way every writer has a great novel in the typewriter. The difference, of course, is that Jeff made it happen.

Funny thing is, Jeff didn’t just plan and execute a bike ride, he created an organization and mission at the same time.

HERO Charity Bike Ride

HERO Charity Bike Ride From the HERO Charity Ride web site…

The HERO Charity Bike Ride is a 28-day bike ride from New York City to West Palm Beach, Florida, to raise money and awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project. United States military personnel serve to defend and protect us every day, putting themselves in perilous situations for our freedom. They make the ultimate sacrifice day in and day out. The Wounded Warrior Project was created to help support, rehabilitate and reacclimate wounded service members after they return home from combat.

The founder of the HERO Charity Bike Ride, Jeff Master, understands how great the sacrifice is for these warriors’ after losing his father in the Vietnam War just four months before he was born. He and his team are compelled to do their part to support our military veterans and their families by riding their bikes to raise money and awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project.

Daily Blog from the Cyclist

Jeff did a darn good job of keep folks up to date on his progress. Be sure and check out Jeff’s HERO Charity Bike Ride blog. Lots of pictures, maps and videos from the trip.

Sponsors and Supporters Open Wallets

Supporters of the HERO Charity Bike RideWhen Jeff started the project, he hoped that it would raise a couple thousand dollars for the Wounded Warrior Project. Last I heard, his efforts had raised more than $8,000. You can still make a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project. I’m pleased that my local bike shop, On Your Mark, was one of the sponsors and the associated club sent riders out for the last leg.

Jeff and On Your Mark finish the 1,200-mile bike ride.

Photos from the Memorial Day Ride Finish

Jeff traveled 1,200 miles and still managed to hit the finish line right on time. You gotta admire that military-like precision.

Jeff Masters arrives at the Memorial Day Picnic after the 1,200-mile Wounded Warrior Charity Bike Ride
Jeff Masters speaks at the Memorial Day Picnic after the 1,200-mile Wounded Warrior Charity Bike Ride
Jeff Masters speaks to Channel 25 at the Memorial Day Picnic after the 1,200-mile Wounded Warrior Charity Bike Ride

Memorial Day 2012

Jeff made it back. No matter what sort of shape you’re in, 1,200 miles in 28 days ain’t easy. Please, take a moment today, between picnics and car shopping, to give thanks to those who gave their lives while in military service, for those that didn’t make it back from whatever distance they traveled.

Jeff Masters and Matt Goforth of On Your Mark

Palm Beach Gardens Kids Triathlon

Valerie, 274, finished the Gardens Kids Tri on "Old Blue"

Valerie, 274, finished the Gardens Kids Tri on "Old Blue"

Valerie, 274, finished her first triathlon on a bicycle more than twice her age. She competed in the Super Seniors division with a time of 36:05. She placed fifth on the swim, second on the bike and fourth in the run.

“Old Blue” is Her Bicycle, Not Her Hunting Dog

Her bike caught my eye. It looked old. Well maintained, but old. Suntour stem shifters pretty much gave away its age. It looks like a bike my father used to have right down to the lugs. Valerie’s father saw me looking at the bike. I told him it looked like a Windsor my father used to own. He said it was a Windsor and that it was a late-1970s or early 1980s model.

Four Riders, Three Triathletes: Bike Still Going Strong

Old Blue: Two Generations, Four CyclistsDad used the bike mostly for transportation. After years of riding, he left it in his parents garage for many years. When Valerie’s Mom decided to do the Disney Triathlon two years ago, he cleaned it up, got new hoops and she rode it well. The following year, Mom upgraded to a new Trek bicycle so a friend rode Old Blue at the Disney Triathlon. Today, it was Valerie’s turn to pilot Old Blue.

If It Rolls, It Races; If It Finishes, It’s a Win

Children's Quintana Roo with Zipp 404 Carbon Fiber WheelsValerie’s vintage Windsor wasn’t the only antique bike on the road. There were a number of 1980s-era bikes on the course this morning. It just goes to show that well cared for bike will outlast your car or your gym membership.

That’s not to say there weren’t any ringers in the group. I saw a pair of Zipp 404 wheels on a child-sized Quintana Roo. That’s a pricey ride for a kid that’ll probably grow out of it in just a couple years. You think buying sneakers and jeans are expensive? Try keeping up with a growing triathlete.

Everyone Who Entered Took Home a Medal

Entrant 104 With Participation Medal

Fuzzy Pom-Poms on Handlebars

Fuzzy Pom-Poms on Pink Bicycle

Special Messages From Parents

Quinn U Rock

Emma, We Love You! Keep your feet moving!

Race Cheering Section

Reily + Sabrina We Are So Proud of You

Another Vintage Bike: French Motobecane from the 1980s

Motobecane France Head Tube Badge

Great Bikes, Great Fun, Great Kids and Great Fans

If you ever want to watch a great race, please check out one of your local kids triathlons. I’ve volunteered for the Palm Beach Gardens Kids Triathlon twice as well as the North Palm Beach Kids Triathlon. Both times I’ve had a lot of fun. I doubt I’ll ever actually do a triathlon, but I love to watch the kids give it their best.


Tour de Bar Photos 2010

Singer Island Tour de Bar 2010

Just to be clear, I’m not in charge of Tour de Bar.
No one is in charge of Tour de Bar.

Ten Bars, Ten Miles, Ten Hours

Thirty-one years ago, eight guys from Pratt & Whitney started a bicycle-based pub crawl. At least three of the eight were on the Tour de Bar this weekend. Tour de Bar Pirate on a Pink HuffySome still live in the North Palm Beach area, others fly in from out of state. Interviewing the founders is a bit difficult since no one is willing to take the credit — or blame — for the Palm Beach Tour de Bar.

What started out as eight thirsty guys has turned into over 400 gleefully rowdy riders and a fundraiser for the local Give a Life Foundation which promotes organ & tissue donation. With a suggested donation of $5, over $2,000 was raised this weekend.

The first $450 raised went to pay for the Palm Beach Shores police department. While the ride has run bandit for many years, this year it grew too large to fly completely under the radar.

Charity, Sure, But Also an Economic Impact

Bicycle with an Umbrella at the Tour de BarBased on how much beer left the Brass Ring Pub Saturday afternoon, I’ve got to believe this event has a strong positive effect on the ten or so bars that are featured along the route. I’d be surprised if some of the smaller bar stops saw 200 unique people in a week, let alone that many in a day.

The T-shirt vendor also failed to properly anticipate demand. I think 150 shirts were printed and they were gone in a flash. If you didn’t get your Tour de Bar T-Shirt, you can still grab one if you hurry. The material is a bit thin but, at just $10 a shirt, it is a heck of a deal. I saw a lot of shirts from previous years. I think 1998 was the oldest I saw.

Tour de Bar Veterans

It wasn’t uncommon to run across people who had participated in the event more than a dozen times. In fact, membership seemed to fit a reverse bell curve. There seemed to be just as many people who had attended 15 or more times as those who were coming out for the first time.

Beater Bikes, Mostly, At Tour de Bar

I’ve never seen so many beater bikes in one place at one time. It’s as though everyone curb-surfed in the weeks leading up to the Tour de Bar looking for wheels. Two-thirds of the bikes looked like $89 K-Mart specials that had set in the backyard for a few years. A couple of dozen were custom works of art that smelled a little like the Freak Bike Militia. No matter what the bike, everyone was welcome and everyone had a big smile.

Some joked that the reason there were so many beater bikes is that many people abandoned their ride and called a cab at the end of the evening. I’m not sure that is true — I didn’t make it to closing time — but I’d like to believe it is true.

Below are some pictures from the event. If you have pictures of your own online, please leave a link in the comments section below.

Tall Bike with Cooler at the North Palm Beach Tour de Bar.

Beer, babes and bikes.

Dive Bar Divas at the Brass Ring Pub

Team Liverstrong America at the 2010 Tour de Bar.

Wear Your Bike Helmet, Please

Bicycle Helmet Damaged After Crash

It was a messy weekend on Jupiter Island this weekend.

A few riders in the A- group went down, one took a helicopter ride to the hospital, one took an ambulance and one had her husband pick her up. By Saturday afternoon, all were reported in good spirits though one was kept overnight for observation.

While waiting for the medics to show up, a southbound group of three riders were paying more attention to the crash than their riding. They touched and the 20 or so of us on the side of the road got to see them touch, flip and crash. They rode off in minutes, mostly unhurt but with some potential mechanical problems.

Later in the day, I’m told a rider on a TT or tri bike went down on the steel drawbridge. His deep gash was going to require stitches.

Be Careful — Wear Your Helmet

Accidents happen. No one was being especially stupid. None of the accidents involved cars, dogs or bad roads. You put enough hours into any sport and you’re going to get hurt. The trick is to be careful and be wearing the right equipment so that any damage is minimized.

The crack in the helmet above isn’t all that impressive. You can see from the photo below, the crack goes all the way through the helmet.

Internal Damage to Bike Helmet After Crash

Cracks in Helmet Could Have Been Skull Cracks

This helmet belongs to the guy who took an ambulance ride to the hospital. He is an experienced cyclist with several thousand miles under his belt, many of those on the same road on which he crashed. You don’t get to pick when and where you’re going to crash so it’s best to always ride with a helmet. Those helmet cracks could have been skull cracks.

Helicopter Takes Injured Cyclist to Hospital

Group Riding No More Dangerous Than Solitary Riding

Before you swear off group rides as being more dangerous, keep in mind that you can fall and hurt yourself while riding alone, too. The advantage of riding with a group is that there are lots of people available to provide assistance, get a license plate number and call for help.

In either case, wear your helmet.