The previous Sony MP3 player we reviewed was the NWZ-W202, which had a unique design that allowed you to wear it around your head like a pair of behind the neck headphones. With the latest version, the W252, Sony has made the player waterproof.
At first glance the design looks nearly identical, but on closer inspection you will notice minor aesthetic changes. I think it looks better than before. It comes in multiple colors as before, but the choice is now limited to three colors (Black, White and Pink) compared to five on the previous model. Some of the images on Sony's website also show a green colored model, but for some reason it is not mentioned in the list of available colors.
To make the W252 water resistant, Sony had to make some design changes to the previous mode. The USB port is now no longer open and is concealed under a plastic flap. The sliding Shuffle mode switch is now a push button on the bottom edge. The older model had a jog dial for switching between tracks and play/pause the music. The new model replaces it with a toggle switch, which in my opinion is far better.
Apart from this there aren't any other major changes to the design. The size of the player is roughly the same and just like before it cannot be customized. Unfortunately, I still found them bit uncomfortable to wear after a few minutes of usage.
Sony claims the new W252 is water resistant. Although we did not test this claim the website shows pictures of the player being worn by people in rain and even held under running tap water. Considering the fact that the speakers are still not completely covered (they would be when you wear the player), I wonder how one could hold the player under a tap without the danger of the water going into the speakers.