Mobile recap: Tizen Z1 phone; NFC wrist-wallet; new Sony Walkman

Samsung has long talked about its Tizen phone and now it has one to show off. The company launched the Samsung Z1 for India with a cost of around $92. That’s a big difference from the original Tizen plan, which was to create a high-end handset that could compete with Android flagship phones.


Hot hardware alone a good phone doesn’t make, however; you need a complementary ecosystem with apps, media and services. Compared to Google, Samsung doesn’t have that, so the strategy change makes sense. Even so, I don’t think Tizen will last long in Samsung phones; even at this relatively low price, there are plenty of good alternatives running Android, and even Windows Phone. Samsung knows this and it appears the company will use Tizen as the common denominator in smart TVs and other connected devices.

One thing Samsung hasn’t done yet is put an NFC chip in its Tizen-powered smartwatches. At last check, only the Sony Smartwatch 3 has NFC, although the Apple Watch will also have one when it launches later this year. NFC on the wrist can be handy for pairing devices, but even more so for digital payments. Enter Wildcard’s new Smart Band, which debuted this week.

Wirecard Smart Band

The Smart Band doesn’t strive to be a smart watch, although it can show weather and limited notifications. Instead, it acts as a digital wallet with both NFC and Bluetooth radios, pairing to your smartphone. The device supports Host Card Emulation and tokenization, which allows it to work for credit card transactions securely without providing your account numbers to merchants.

Compared to relatively new digital payments, the Sony Walkman brand is old. I bought my first Walkman in the early-80’s and now, some 30-odd years later, added another. Only this one is far more advanced.

Sony Walkman A17

The Sony Walkman A17 I purchased is a digital audio player (DAP) that supports nearly every type of audio file format you can think of. It also supports bitrates higher than that of a standard CD, playing high-resolution audio files up to 192kHz / 24-bit. By comparison, CDs are recorded with a 44.1kHz / 16-bit method.

It might not make sense to some to spend $299 for a music player when a phone can play back audio files as well. The key difference is in the sound quality or high-resolution audio; if your ears can hear the difference, carrying a second device might be worth it. If not, your phone or tablet — along with the lower priced standard audio files — are the better bet.

My recommendation: Get some “ears on” time with a high-resolution DAP before making the purchase. Most have microSD card slots, so you can bring your own music for testing in a store.