August 30, 2007 Sony today announced two new series of digital media players that will use MP3, AAC and WMA formats, at the same time as announcing it will discontinue use of the ATRAC format and begin closing its Connect online Music store in March 2008. Sony’s role as a music distributor has long compromised its position as a manufacturer of digital media players and the long-time stand-off between the two arms of the Japanese giant that threatened to make its digital music players irrelevant is over as it seeks to make up lost ground in the booming market created by digital file sharing over the internet. Ironically, though it can now compete on an even playing field with the likes of Apple’s iPod, one wonders what the consequences of abandoning its loyalest customers will do to the market’s perceptions of the famous Walkman brand.
The new Walkman NWZ-A810 and NWZ-S610/S510 players will support an open platform and include support for Windows Media technology, providing greater choice for downloading and managing music, video and photo collections.
The players will support secure Microsoft Windows Media Audio (WMA) as well as the open AAC and MP3 music formats, plus JPEG image format for photos, as well as AVC (H.264/AVC) Baseline profile and MPEG4 video codecs. The new players are also among the first to carry the “PlaysForSure”, Certified for Windows Vista logo.
To help manage digital music libraries, the new Sony Walkman video players come with Microsoft Windows Media Player 11. This familiar interface makes transferring music very intuitive. Sony offers a range of accessories (sold separately), including a Bluetooth audio transmitter and peripherals that allow consumers to wirelessly release their music on the move.
The top-of-the-line Walkman video players (NWZ-A810 series) have a 2-inch QVGA (320 by 240 pixels) LCD screen (measured diagonally). This series of players comes with higher quality Sony MDR-EX082 ear-buds. Designed with a younger demographic in mind, the NWZ-S610 series has a 1.8-inch QVGA (320 by 240 pixels) LCD screen and includes an FM tuner with 30 presets.
The NWZ-A810 series of Walkman video music players come in three different capacities and five colors:
- The NWZ-A815 player has a total capacity of 2GB; comes in white, pink, black, blue and silver; and will cost about US$140.
- The NWZ-A816 player has a total capacity of 4GB; comes in white, pink, black and silver; and will cost about US$180.
- The NWZ-A818 player has a total capacity of 8GB, comes in black and silver, and will cost about US$230.
The NWZ-S610 series of Walkman music players come in three different capacities and four colors:
- The NWZ-S615F player has a total capacity of 2GB; comes in black, pink, red and silver; and costs about US$120. - The NWZ-S616F player has a total capacity of 4GB; comes in black, pink,red and silver; and costs about US$160.
- The NWZ-S618F player has a total capacity of 8GB, comes in black, and costs about US$210.
The battery life of the products allows up to eight hours of video playback for the A810 series and nine and a half hours for the S610 series. Playing music alone, both series are good for 33 hours.
Presales have begun for the new Walkman models online at SonyStyle web sites http://www.sonystyle.com/ http://www.sonystyle-europe.com/ and at Sony Style stores. The new players will be available in September.