* Prices may differ from that shown
I'm rather sad it's all over for the traditional tape cassette player, production shut down on October 25th 2010. They were by far the most durable music players, especially for running and exercise, and didn't burn up the batteries like portable CD players do. But Sony, in their wisdom, have announced that no more tape playing Walkmans will be made and quite rightfully digital MP3 music players type kit is the future. Digital tunes don't jump, are very sharp and you don't have to buy an album full of filler tracks to justify the tenner anymore. Impressively, 220 million Sony Walkmans were sold in the first year of its launch in 1979 (100 million over the next twenty years), an icon of the 1980s that would start the whole jogging and exercise revolution of that decade - and that annoyance of that 'chink chink chink' sound on the bus! How many other style ions like this survived that decade...Lava Lamps, Beta Video players and The Vetrex all resigned to history. Come on, hands up who didn't go jogging to the Rocky theme tune! Yes the infernal machines got hungry and ate your tapes just as Dire Straits were going into your favourite riff but my word they could take some brutal punishment. If you drop a portable CD player, its successor, then that's bust for good. I think we should have state funeral for the Walkman and pull out the tape from the cassettes and stream it out of our cars in tribute! Again, I will really miss them.
Baring in mind there will be no more I purchased one myself from Argos and asked for another as a present for my birthday to replace my previous and battered model, the most expensive model available today in Northampton down to just £29.99 in Argos, suggesting they wanted to get shot of them just as much as Sony. Amazon matches that price although you can risk their marketplace at £22.99p. My first impression of it is the sturdiness has gone and that durability sacrificed for a lighter and smaller model. What do you exchnage it for if it does break they no longer make them? Mobile Phones have had a similar evolution and if you drop them now they shatter. The older Walkmans could be dropped off a multi-story and still survive, Prince still shrieking away when you pick it up off the floor and dust it down. The only other model Sony does in Argos and Amazon is the cheaper WMEX194L version that has no radio and goes for £17.99p.
The demise of the portable tape and CD player has also seen the disappearance of those little foam fluffy bits that help to snug the headphones in your ear. It doesn't matter how expensive your mini headphones are, when your ears get sweaty or wet they tend not to agree with headphones when you don't have the foam to keep them in there. I used to buy 6 for a £1 in HMV but they stopped doing them, only Maplins Electronics doing them now in Northampton. And they know they are the only ones as they charged £3.99 for 6! That's a bigger rip off than printer ink cartridges!!!
Because the player is much smaller it can only hold one AA battery, meaning limited power, no adapter option, meaning you have to carry a spare battery around. One AA is never enough to play more than three 90 minutes tapes from start to finish. You used to load a couple of Duracell's in like bullets to a snipers rifle and be assured you would get plenty of power. It was and is essential to use rechargeable batteries. Modern recharging make the batteries last for ages now and so you are a mug not to buy rechargeable kit and batteries these days. There is an automatic cut out although it doest seem to shut the machine down fully.
Appearance wise it comes in solid plastic packaging like a life support module from those old Sci-Fi films, always useful if your not happy with your purchase because you can skilfully place it back in the packaging and glue it back down and it will look as good as new for a refund. I'm always like a bomb disposal expert removing expensive items from packages so there are no arguments aver returns. It a silver front only for this model and a basic functional design set of buttons, no added switches on the side that just seem to dim the sound for no particular reason. Its both tape and radio with MW/FM your only options. You get some cheap flimsy headphones (with no foam!) in the box as well as a solid leather cover that has a useful belt clip on it for your running and exercise so good extra protection. As I say its very light at just 500 grams and no bigger or thicker than two boxes of Marlboro fags side-to-side. The tray to load the tape in does look flimsy though and so needs to be shut true, as does the trap door to lock the battery in, a fiddly affair. The player also doesn't have a full 'off' button and so you have to leave the battery out if you don't want it to quietly run down overnight running the minimal displays. In fact it's rather ironic, really, as the display you see when you're not using the tape or radio is to say you have a battery in it??
It has 40 preset radio stations but all of them lost when you change the battery. Its news to me if there is any countries out there that have that many radio stations. A LCD window shows you are clearly you are tuned into those stations. There is a 'Hold' button on the side of the player to lock you into your listening choice when out and about.
So far I have had no problems with the player out and about, no jumping or jamming as yet, my music taste mostly rock and so the tapes and the machine always put through their paces. Battery usage isn't great although more juice than I thought I would get from one cell. It feels light to carry and less cumbersome than the last one I had. But, ultimately, though I still have one to play my huge pile of tapes with and that's all that matters to this dinosaur.
* Radio Walkman, FM/AM Digital Tuner
* 40 station presets/ Slim and lightweight,
* LCD / 1 x AA Battery
* 35 hours playback / Tape selector
* Automatic shut off / Mega Bass / AVLS / Includes headphones
Slim and lightweight, the WM-FX290 is compact enough to fit in your shirt pocket, but that doesn't stop it from boasting a host of great features. One AA battery is enough to power it for up to 35 hours, and the tuner includes FM, AM, TV and weather bands. It has 40 station presets, and digital auto preset scanning. Includes Mega Bass Sound System and a digital LCD Display. Plus, you get some great accessories, like MDR-023 stereo headphones and a carry case with belt clip.