updated 09:10 am EDT, Thu October 12, 2006
New Sony Walkman Players
[Updated with American launch details] Sony used a press conference in Japan on Thursday to launch an aggressive update of its Network Walkman flash players. Briefly leaked by a British retailer, the new S600 and S700 players are a cross between the company's basic E500-series players and the more advanced A-series. While the new Walkmen continue to use the rotary controls that keep the E500 small, they include color OLED screens that can display album art and can store up to 4GB of music in the S700 model, placing Sony's players in direct competition with the iPod nano for the first time.
Unique to both lines is the ability to transfer music directly from a CD or MiniDisc -- an essential feature in the players' native country, where home PCs are less common. The S600 and S700 are chiefly separated by their earbuds, as the S700 (pictured) ships with Sony's NC22 active noise-cancelling earbuds while the S600 ships with more conventional designs. The S700 arrives first in Japan on October 21st at $243 US for the 4GB model; the S600 will arrive November 18th. US customers can pre-order the S700 series now at $169 for a 1GB version and $199 for a 2GB black model. Click through for brief news of Sony's video player strategy.
Sony also added that it would be developing a video-capable Walkman, according to Reuters. Although the electronics company would not go into any further details, it hopes to double its 10% share of the worldwide music player market in part by adding features that have previously been missing. Apple has had video-capable iPods since October of 2005 and commands more than half of the global music player market.