Sony Walkman WM-R202 – throwback gadget
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I got a Sony Walkman WM-R202 and loved it, though it was only for a short while. It was delicate and fragile, or I had a lemon; but it was the kind of device that stuck with me and made sense for me to profile as an iconic throwback gadget. Back when I started work I was obliged to do night classes in advanced chemistry. It was tough going (partly because I wasn’t that focused). I had a long commute home in a company minibus and my existing Walkman WM-24 whilst good had given up the ghost. I decided to put what money I had towards a Sony Walkman WM-R202 that would help with my commute boredom and my night classes.
Why that model:
- It could record reasonably well which I convinced myself would be handy for lectures. It was not up to a Pro Walkman standard as the Dolby circuit fitted was for playback only. (I couldn’t afford the professional grade WM-D6C at the time and they weren’t the kind of device that you could easily fit in a pocket either. They were big and substantial.)
- It had a good reputation for playback. Not only did it have Dolby B noise reduction and auto reverse on cassette playback, but it held the cassette really well due to its metal construction. I learned the benefits of good tape cassette fit in a rigid mechanism the hard way. I had got hold of a WM-36 which on paper looked better than my previous Walkman with Dolby B noise reduction and a graphic equaliser, but had to keep the door closed with a number of elastic bands. It was a sheep dressed up as a wolf and I struggled on with my original dying Walkman
- Probably the biggest reason was that it intrigued me. It wasn’t much larger than an early iPod and was crafted with a jeweller’s precision. It was powered by a single AA battery or a NiCd battery about the size of a couple of sticks of chewing gum. It looked sexy as hell in in a brushed silver metal finish.
Whilst the buttons on the device might seem busy in comparison to software driven smartphones it was a surprisingly well designed user experience. None of them caught on clothing, the main controls fell easily to hand and I can’t remember ever having to use the manual.
What soon became apparent is that you needed to handle it very carefully to get cassettes in and out. I used to carefully tease the cassettes in and out. Despite my care, one day it stopped working. Given that mine lasted about two weeks, I am guessing that mine was a lemon and that the build quality must have been generally high as you can still see them on eBay and Yahoo! Auctions in Japan.
Since mine gave out well within a warranty period, I look it back to the shop and put the money towards a Sony D-250 Discman instead.
Here’s a video in Japanese done by someone selling a vintage WM-R202 on Yahoo! Auctions which shows you all the features in more depth.