iPod Touch vs. Sony Walkman Z (comparison)

Android phones aren’t wiping the floor with Apple, but they’re doing damn well. While the same can’t be said for tablets, what about media players? Well, Android PMPs are sparse. Today the only real contender in the Android court is the Samsung Galaxy Players, which share the same specifications as last year’s Samsung Galaxy S II phones. The iPod Touch shares the same specs as the iPhone 4, so that made it equal, but Samsung’s larger devices weren’t quite as good as overall PMPs. The 5.0 was better for video with it’s giant screen. Throw VUDU into the mix too by reading our iTunes vs VUDU review.

But what about Sony’s upcoming Walkman Z? Sony is finally entering the Android PMP field with a Walkman, which means they’re taking it seriously. But just how seriously are they taking it? And can they dethrone the iPod Touch for best portable media player? Let’s take a look and find out.

Size

For a PMP, size matters, and bigger is better. While a phone is up to the user – after all, we all like something different – a PMP is all about viewing media while still having the option to throw the device in your pocket. The iPod Touch is famous for being razor thin and light, and the Walkman Z is preposterously thick at 11.1mm, nearly 4mm thicker than the iPod, and thicker than many of today’s smartphones. However, it’s a 4.3″ screen compared to a 3.5″ display.

Because screen size isn’t the only thing that matters – obviously smaller devices are more convenient in many ways – this bodes difficult to score for size. The Walkman is larger in every way, and 50% heavier than the iPod to boot. For just screen size, that would be fine, but the overall thickness of the Z evens it out. The defining factor is the display, both of which are TFT panels.

However, the overall ridiculous thickness of the Walkman Z just can’t be forgiven. LTE smartphones, which have a rather large LTE chip (and is one of the reasons Apple doesn’t have an LTE phone out yet) are significantly thinner than this Walkman. Why does it have to be so thick? The bigger screen is a definite bonus, but the gargantuan thickness of the Walkman is a joke for a PMP.

Winner: iPod Touch, because the Walkman is preposterously thick.

Appearance

The Walkman Z looks great, but it’s competing with the iPod Touch, which hasn’t changed it’s design much in five years and still looks damn good. Unfortunately the Walkman doesn’t have any standout or charmingly good looks above and beyond the iPod Touch.

Winner: iPod Touch, which looks great.

Display

Both the Walkman and iPod use the same type of display technology, TFT panels. These high quality panels produce accurate colors and are bright enough to see in bright settings and even direct sunlight. There are only two differences: the Walkman is a 4.3″ screen and the iPod has a 3.5″ screen, and the iPod is much more dense with a resolution of 960×640, compared to 800×480. The former point helps out the Walkman, while the latter is a boon for the iPod.

The only differentiator here is aspect ratio. The Walkman is a 16:9 widescreen display and the iPod is 4:3, so watching video will always be better on the Walkman. So while reading text will be easier on the iPod, the Walkman will produce better video because it won’t have black bars on the top and bottom and use the full 4.3″ display to do it.

Winner: Walkman Z, which has a lower screen resolution and density but is widescreen, better for watching media.

Operating System

For some reason everyone is still making Android 2.3 devices. After spending a lot of time with Android 4.0, I can’t understand how any company would ever want to use it, let alone how users would be interested in it considering the update. Yet here we are, with yet another Android 2.3 handheld. Screw that Sony, ship with the new OS.

Winner: iPod Touch, because the Walkman doesn’t have Android 4.0. There are currently no revealed plans to upgrade it to 4.0.

Processor

Apple A4 versus Nvidia’s Tegra 2? That’s a tough call. The Tegra 2 is slightly newer and is a dual-core chip, but Sony hasn’t revealed which model of Tegra 2 it is. Unfortunately that makes things difficult for distinguishing which chip is better. The A4 is an underclocked 800MHz CPU, and with excellent software implementation is very smooth and fast. Tegra 2 is as well, but at this point, without more information I’m going to have to call this one a tie.

Winner: Tie, not enough information.

Storage

Like most products competing with Apple, the Walkman Z is more expensive for the base model but becomes cheaper when adding additional memory. The Walkman comes in three sizes: 8GB, 16GB and 32GB, compared to the iPod’s 8GB, 32GB and 64GB. Unlike many Android devices the Z does not have expandable storage, so the win easily goes to the iPod. Check Price to see how the memory comparisons stack up dollar for dollar.

Winner: iPod Touch, with a higher overall amount of available memory.

Camera

This is saddeningly dissapointing. The iPod Touch camera is a joke, but at least supports decent 720p video and can Facetime. The Walkman Z? No cameras whatsoever. For this price and at this time for any PMP, that’s just unacceptable.

Winner: iPod Touch, which actually has a camera.

Battery Life

iOS devices have historically had much better battery life than Android devices, at least in my experience. The reason isn’t because they have bigger batteries (they rarely do); it’s because the software is very power sensitive. That said, the times Sony has listed for the Walkman Z pale in comparison to Apple’s own rating: 20 hours of continuous music playback on the Z compared to 40 on the iPod, and 5 hours of video compared to 7. For a bigger device, which should have a bigger battery, this shouldn’t be.

Winner: iPod Touch, with a far longer lasting battery.

Features

The Walkman Z offers some pretty unique features not typically found on PMPs today, most of which are aimed specifically at music listeners. There’s a full equalizer, a number of audio enhancers, a built-in FM tuner (YES!), and decent included earbuds. It also has HDMI out for video and audio playback, as well as gaming.

However, the Z also lacks some pretty basic features, like plenty of video filetypes (though this is an easy fix with the right playback app) and charging through a dedicated cable (not MicroUSB). However, both of these are moot compared to the iPod, the former which can be fixed through apps and the latter which is identical to the iPod’s 30-pin connector.

What really sets the Walkman apart? FM radio. Many forget how important radio is for music listening, which I can never stress enough. It’s what set the Zune apart for the longest time, and what makes some smartphones relevant for many users today. the fact that the iPod Touch doesn’t include it, when the iPod Nano does, is a loss on Apple’s part.

Winner: Walkman Z, with FM radio and an audio equalizer.

Price

The pricing on both the iPod Touch and Walkman Z is, well, unfortunate. Both devices use at least year-old hardware. But Sony has a premium starting price of $250 for the 8GB model, and doesn’t match the iPod’s 64GB model in any way. At every price point Apple beats out Sony, by $50 for the base model, and by $20 for the 32GB unit. And for app fanatics, music junkies, or movie hounds the iPod is the only way to get the maximum amount of data storage.

Winner: iPod Touch, at every price point.

Overall Winner

The score speaks for itself. When comparing the two as completely whole and individual devices, they look fairly similar, but by breaking down their parts it’s clear that the iPod Touch destroys the Walkman Z. The few standout features that the Z offers are interesting and worth remembering, especially depending on your need of a PMP, but the overall device just isn’t competitive. The fact that Sony would make a product like this and not make it competitive with a year-old device is unforgivable.

If you want a PMP for video viewing, the Samsung Galaxy Player 5.0 has a huge screen just for that, and expandable memory. Any Android device can have it’s audio manipulated with downloadable equalizers. The only thing that the Walkman Z offers is everything in a bundle for a high price, but we’ll have to wait and see if for our full review to know whether it’s worth buying for Android lovers.

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James Pikover

Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.

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49 Comments

  1. Alright… You are just one of those Apple-no-backbone-having-loser that buys everything in sight that has anything to do with Apple. I swear Apple is so damn overrated and sucks so bad… like really bad. I mean just the overall hardware of Ipods, Iphones,a nd Ipads are absolutely horrendous. They lack creativity and look lso cheesy like they want to make it look simple but it’s just stupid to be honest. Anyways, back to my main point, the Sony Walkman completely destroys the Ipod in every aspect. Sound… Don’t even get me started.
    For the authors of this weakly produced article, get that “Apple is the best” mindset out of here. Like seriously, brainwashing at its best.

  2. SQ wasn’t mentioned and the ‘Apple Fandom’ simply radiated from this article.

    On a more serious note I see there is no hope for a decently speced out PMP unless you pay off these guess to make something extremely personalized Price seems to be the first and final say when it comes to these PMPs which is understandable (and un-subsidized smartphone runs upwards of $300-$1000 $_$) It doesn’t help that the audiophile community is jaded in their beliefs either (seriously, a completely lopsided specialized device this day in age is acceptable to them) An all rounder with superior audio, and power to spare wouldn’t be so far-fetched if Cowon Sony and even Samsung would make the device. Cowon already tried, failed since the CPU in the D3 was crap but it is possible and I’d like to see it.

  3. god dam!! were the sound quality part???? i will tell you about sound quality: sony is the absulot winner on the sound quality!!!!!!!!!!!!! apple hate to talk a bout sound qualiy when she standing vs sony, and why is that? very simple: apple knows that sony is nomber one on sound quality part. sony is the best sounding all over the world/ you hear me apple?
    so, please stop boolshiting us with your crap. camera? camera on mp3 player???
    get out of here.

  4. This ‘review’ is terribly biased, not to mention the author doesn’t have a clue what they’re talking about. This quote was the icing on the cake for me, “For a bigger device, which should have a bigger battery, this shouldn’t be”. Also, the Appearance, Processor, and Camera sections are more or less irrelevant. The processor would be, but there’s apparently no info on either processor… The size category is horribly written, the author contradicts himself multiple times and claims that the Walkman is “preposterously thick”.

  5. Cowon Z2 would be better than both.
    Apple sounds okay and walkman cannot play lossless files so you’d probably give it a tie for sound or give sony an edge for the enhancements if you wish but I personally would give apple the edge here.
    MP3 enhanced is still not better than lossless. Apple has more apps. This is from someone who has used both android and IOS. Most of the android apps are crap. Majority of ipod apps are free anyway and you can jailbreak it or whatnot. The camera on the iPod touch sucks it’s just an emergency kinda thing but it’s still better than nothing. These two are probably even I’d get the iPod for OS and Memory though.

  6. Evn my cheapest of all SONY NWZ 2 GB (Its cheaper dan a shuffle) kicks the shit out of ipod touch when it comes to music quality. That should say all about Apple.

  7. This review is shit. the walkman kicks the ipods ass by a long shot. and the battery life on my walkman can play atleast 45 hrs of continuous audio playback due to the juice defender app. Plus they didnt mention ccustomiztion abilities which is far greater on the walkman.

  8. Author seems very subjective on the appearance part. You survey people who use neither Walkman nor Touch, The answer will definitely be Walkman, it looks elegant!!!

  9. You my good sir, are what they call a monumental imbecil. A pretty shitty review I must say. If you are looking for one of the most powerful DAP’s in the market, and you have got a nice pair of BA IEM’s or a set of full sized headphones, then get the Walkman. If you didn’t understand a shit of what I just mentioned, get the crappy iPod.

  10. u did it…u just proved iRetards r really stupid :))) …i wanna listen some music…so what do i do ? im askin myself…which one is preetier ? which one has bigger camera…which one has a better OS?…yes…ur a really iDumb…keep checkin these facts when u buy something u keep in ur pocket 90% of the time…and in YOUR EARS 100% of the time …hi-quality headphones SUCK big time in medium quality players..
    ..
    ..headphones ONLY sound great in ipods when u have NOTHING to compare them to..after that…u start to realize what a worthless piece of s#!t ipods are

  11. there is no need for a comparison like that.
    if you use Apple earphones or off the shelf budget earphones : iPod touch hands down.
    if you use multi-armature or elite dynamic driver, thousand-dollar earphones and use the word DAP instead of MP3 Player : Walkman Z hands down.

  12. hehehe author got smashed…why i dont see any of his inteliigent review in this page..i only hear abuse for the author…LOL

  13. lol. This author sure don’t know his products well enough to review them. People buy ipod touch because it’s fashionable, friendly usage with large storage space. While Z walkman’s aim is totally different. Since this is a PMP, SOUND quality much?? Does ipod plays flac? How much is ipod’s ram? You sound like a cheap consumer who just want to get the most of the most hip item but neglect to notice that a PMP’s most important factor is sound quality….. Otherwise why would one pay so much for a Z walkman?? Brain usage much??!

  14. Its like comparing a porsche 911 against a mazda FD3S and claiming the 911 is the winner for all other aspects apart from the core performance factor.

    It goes to show how much people should avoid this site.

  15. The SOUND QUALITY is very important thing to make me buy  a PMP device. Sony Walkman Z gives me the best sound quality. It also has a millions of free software on android market.

  16. Both are music player. the one importance thing is qualities of sound and headphones.
    sorry for my English..

  17. Yeah, you forgot (or maybe neglected) to mention about the audio quality.. Even I’m an Apple user (I’m not a fan-boy because I’m a fan of other brands & OS too, so I think I’m a gadget-freak)… the “iFanBoys” are really irritating! Btw, from my experience Sony Walkman offers better sound quality than iPod has and Sony also has a better headphone. We’re talking about PMP which probably Sony Walkman might be a winner in overall area. IF SONY excel in audio quality then the design, the processor (why I need better processor to play audio files? I’m not going to convert them with my PMP), camera (who need it anyway?), price (if the price is more expensive because the audio quality is better then it’s okay, okay?), OS are not the matter.

  18. I bought mine today (32GB) and I must say this thing sounds freaking awesome. I don’t understand all of the audio options yet, that’s how many there are(for the headphones as well as the internal speakers) but I got all day to tinker with it. By the way, who cares about a camera, I already got my phone for that. This is for auditory orgasm first and foremost.

    1. Hi. I have a HTC One X with beats. Would the sony Walkman sound markedly better? Is it worth the investment? Thanks!

  19. I think walker man z is the best so far rather than having the same model in apple for five fucking years.!

  20. I forgot to mention in processing the iPod has a mere 256 mb of ram, heck even the galaxy player has double that. The Sony Z series has 1GB of Ram! Obvious bias is obvious. On top of that the iPod Touch can’t even run high end iOS 4 or iOS 5 apps lol.

  21. ? This comparison is BS. For instance Appearance, you say it loses because it is too thick, but people complain about how fragile iPods are because they are too thin. Plus iPods design has been outdated, and no it is not large for a PMP. For OS, Gingerbread is a great OS, and is on par with iOS. On top of that if you want ICS so bad you can A) Root it or B) Use Go Launcher Ex, and Get the ICS theme. It works exactly like ICS too. The Process is this a joke? A4 is a freaking single core processor, All the Tegra 2 series are dual core so guess what it is clear who wins that. And who cares about cameras.

    Finally you never said anything about sound quality, and everyone already knows iPod has the worst sound quality of any PMP. The earbuds are crap, and it can’t even push the power for better ones. Sound quality is the most important.

  22. Apple Fan…..you dont mention sound quality, headphones quality…Display??Smae technology??? AMOLOED!!!! vs LCD!!!…Speakers!!! Sony kick that piece of shit of ipod…Procesor…Its a 1 ghz dual core!!! And….You wanna a Android icre cream sandwich( 4.0) in a PMP???? Its enough.with the gingerbread…

    1. Frigging idiot.  Yeah sound quality wasn’t mentioned, but if you’re using high quality headphones, the sound quality of the touch doesn’t mean a thing.  Display?  LOOK AT THE GODDAMN REVIEW.  The touch kicks the walkman’s puny little ass.  Processor?  The touch doesn’t have nearly as many background processes with the OS.  You’re just another fandroid who doesn’t like it when anybody says apple is good.  Nothing compares to the ipod touch for a PMP.

      1. “if you’re using high quality headphones, the sound quality of the touch doesn’t mean a thing…”

        WTF are you talking about? Good headphones won’t magically make a shitty source signal into a good one. They can only make the best of what comes out of the player. So if you plug your good headphones into the sony, they will sound way better than if you plugged them into the ipod because the original signal is better. As you said… “frigging idiot”.

  23. the reason i’d buy a PMP is for its sound quality, not the camera.  so how is the sound?  and do you have a comparison of the included headphones?  ipod buds are painful to wear for extended periods.

  24. The sound of the Walkman Z is so much better then the ipod. Really if i’m going to buy a music player it’s going to be for the sound, and that’s why i’m buying the walkman

  25. Listen, guys, this reviewer is obviously an iFan and an Android-hater. I stopped reading after he said (about Android 4.0) he didn’t know why any company would ever want to use it.

  26. you seem to forget to mention the most important reason for buying the sony walkman and that is sound quality, which is much better than any apple device. 10-0 to the sony!

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