updated 08:45 am EDT, Thu August 28, 2008
Sony Walkman Aug 2008
Sony today followed through on recent leaks with a significant overhaul of its Walkman music players. Apart from a new design that slims the device down to under 0.3 inches and harmonizes the look among all video-capable Sony players, the S730 series are the first to simplify smart playlists with a fully automatic feature known as SensMe. The addition gauges the tempo, rhythm, and other factors of songs and creates as many as 11 playlists of its own to match a given mood.
It further debuts support for protected Windows Media video on Walkman players as well as software to streamline drag-and-drop loading of content without relying on the operating system's interface, helping users pull content from iTunes and other third-party stores.
The S730 update also has enhanced noise cancellation with both active cancellation on the device itself as well as higher-end, in-canal earbuds; a new accessory lets users plug the Walkman directly into a passenger airplane seat's audio system and use it along with the noise-cancelling effect. Battery life is also long with up to 40 hours of playback on standard-quality music, which with Sony continues to include AAC, MP3, and WMA. H.264 video is still supported by the new Walkman devices, as is FM radio for when existing music falls short.
The S series updates are available in multiple colors and include a 4GB version (the S736) for $150 and an 8GB model (the S738) for $180; along with other models, both players are due to reach stores in September.
An unannounced player, the S638, appears to have the higher-end earbuds but goes without the active noise reduction to reach a $150 price for 8GB of storage.
E430 series, shares the same fundamental design, software, and protected WMV support as the S730 series but goes with traditional earbuds and strips out the noise cancellation features in the name of price and a slightly longer 45-hour battery life. The 4GB E436 will ship for just $100, while the 8GB E438 will cost $140.
Sony has also carried over one of its previously Japan-only flash players for runners and others who just need a basic player. The B130 series has just the most basic of controls but still has a small display for navigating MP3/WMA tracks and finds room for an FM tuner for radio. It also adds a voice recorder and a lighting system that optionally flashes in tune with the music. A 1GB B133 model will sell for $45, while moving to the 2GB B135 lifts the price to $60.