Sony announced it last night during their press conference, but now I got to put my grubby, dirty hands all over it. For those that missed it, the WA1 is a wireless stereo radio from Sony that can play music from integrated flash memory, Internet radio, auxiliary input or streaming directly from a PC.
There is more dirt, a lot more.
First and foremost, the WA1 is controlled with LG Chocolate-style touch-sensitive buttons. The unfortunate part about the buttons, is that they are glossy black, meaning every single damn fingerprint becomes very visible and very ugly, fast. At some points during my demo I even had to look at the buttons from a different angle to see the function of each button. They weren't as responsive as I would have liked, either.
Other than the less visually pleasing functionality, the WA1 worked pretty well. It includes a remote and wireless dongle so it can directly connect to a computer via 802.11b (kind of weak) or through an access point such as a router. Sound was okay, but then again I was listening in a very noisy Sony CES booth, it would definitely be better in an enclosed, quieter home-esque environment.
Internet radio is limited to Live365, which is a semi-pay service. Some channels are free but if you really want some good radio you will be forced to drop at least $7 per month.
Streaming to the PC works with the Sony Connect software, which is meh, but I didn't expect anything else.
It does include a measly 128MB of internal storage mainly to be used for alarm functionality.
On the backside there is a handle, audio out, optical out, auxiliary input and a handle because the WA1 is rechargeable. The lithium-ion battery carries a four-hour battery life.
The WA1 will be available come spring-time for $350.