Sony may have practically invented the portable media scene over two decades ago with the first Walkman cassette players, but in the market for MP3 players, its modern presence has hardly been dominating. The Japanese electronics giant attempted to step up its U.S. offerings with three new media players on Thursday: two that will be the first under the Walkman brand to play video, plus a third audio-only player.
The Sony NWZ-A810 and NWZ-S610 both sport QVGA screens that make full-screen video playback at 30 fps possible. The top-of-the-line A810 offers a 2-inch screen, while the S610 will pack a more modest 1.8-inch screen. Sony says the smaller model is targeted at a younger demographic. Both models will come in 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB varieties.
The NWZ-B100 is intended for music fans who have no need for video, so it comes with a three-color LCD in place of a more versatile screen. The built-in FM tuner can both play and record FM broadcast signals. In case you would rather hear yourself speak than a morning radio host, there’s a built-in mic for recording as well.
Oddly enough, Sony’s least expensive video players will offer more color options: the $140 2GB version of the A810 comes in white, pink, black, blue and silver, while climbing up the ladder in storage capacity limits color choices. The $230 8GB player only comes in black and silver. The same goes for the S610, which comes in black pink, red and silver at the $120 2GB level, or just black at the $210 8GB level. The reverse is true for the B100: the $60 1GB version is available exclusively in black while the $80 2GB version will also let consumers pick white.
All players will be available at retailers in September, with pre-sales going on now via Sony’s Web site.
[In addition, Sony announced it will be shuttering its Connect music service in Europe and North America by March 2008, although the Connect store which sells eBooks will remain operational. Connect sold tracks in Sony’s propietary ATRAC format; it’s no coincidence that Sony’s new Walkmans support Windows Media, as well as more-open formats like MP3. -Geoff Duncan]
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