Feature Design WALKMAN X Series
Feature Design WALKMAN X Series

One-of-a-kind finishes

Shimizu: Even after our direction in product design had become clear, we were still looking for the best body finishes. Typical black or silver styling can't really express the qualities people value in a top-of-the-line WALKMAN®, or their appreciation for what's genuine. Fortunately, there's a team at Sony dedicated to color and material development. One of their proposals caught our eye as unique.

That's the granite-like finish available in the X series, called "wrinkle coat." The crackled pattern comes from heating this special coating. No two patterns are the same. And no portable audio players have offered this sense of premium quality, the distinctive appearance and texture of a cut mineral. Repeated attempts to perfect the coating paid off, and the finish looks and feels unique.

The protective case also reflects our dedication to superior quality. No two grains are alike, as you would expect from genuine leather. Owners will also appreciate how the case develops character over years of use, something synthetic leather can't seem to match. With operations on the new touch-screen panel in mind, we wanted to present the player as an elegant notebook. For this, we had to develop a suitable holder, but because natural rubber would obviously stretch and become loose over time, the player is held by special elastic fabric also found in apparel.

Taking on better usability

Niijima: Because it's the first WALKMAN® with a touch-screen panel, we developed an entirely new graphical user interface. In design, we were guided by the themes of three circles and transparency.

The trio of round buttons has become closely associated with WALKMAN® style, and this was our attempt to recreate it in graphics. Play a video or view photos, and you'll notice the round control buttons.

Transparent GUI elements let visual content shine through, so to speak. You'd imagine that a three-inch OLED display gives us an ample canvas for controls. In fact, we face strict limitations in the size of icons and on-screen buttons, considering the width of people's fingers, the precision of detection, and other factors. That's why we balanced button size with transparency, which reveals the background or wallpaper. As a result, buttons are easier to press and content is easier to see.

One problem with touch-screen interfaces to date has been that buttons tend to be hidden by your finger when you hold your finger over them. You don't know what button you're pressing. On the X series, when you bring your finger over a button, the button edges glow orange, as feedback for the action. Move your finger away, and this sign of your action gradually fades, as a trace of your selection that is understood intuitively.

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