One of the quickest ways to make me nostalgic is to talk about the pre-iPhone days--the days when MP3 players still mattered.
While today's biggest forum battles all seem to revolve around Android versus iOS, there was a time when the mere mention of iPod earbuds would send us all into frothy fits of anger. Everyone, it seemed, cared deeply about the audio quality of a preferred MP3 player and would evangelize the merits of the latest iPod-killers from Sony, Cowon, Creative, and SanDisk.
Those were fun days. As a self-described audio geek, I took comfort in the thought that so many people cared so passionately about their music experience.
But then, like two alien mother ships dropping from the sky, the arrival of the iPhone and the iPad dwarfed these audio quarrels and offered dissenting and opinionated geeks a far more worthy subject to rally around. Amid this frenzy of iClouds, Ice Cream Sandwiches, and Kindle Fires, concerns over music playback and audio quality often feel as antiquated as discussions of the VCR.
But for those music lovers who have felt lost in this era of OS-fixation, Sony's Walkman Z ($249) is an Android-based portable media player that elevates the audio experience above all other concerns.… Read more