Summer in the northern hemisphere this year has so far been a bit of a disappointment. Mobile music lovers can at least look forward to a new batch of Walkman digital music and video players from Sony while we wait for the sun to shine. The new additions include three 7-mm (0.275-inch) thin models and new flagship series players that run on the Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) flavor of Google's Android operating platform. Two feature Bluetooth technology for wireless connection to headphones or speaker docks, and there's one that benefits from noise-canceling circuitry.
The new flagship F800 Series players come in 8 GB, 16 GB and 32 GB models and are all powered by NVIDIA's Tegra 2 dual-core processor and run on Android 4.0 (ICS), which means a host of pre-installed apps including email, maps and media gallery and full access to Google Play. There's built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, a 3.5-inch multi-touch LCD display and they can handle MP3, (non-DRM) WMA and AAC-LC, HE-AAC, Linear PCM and FLAC audio files (sadly no OGG showing) and MPEG4, AVC (H.264/AVC), and (non-DRM) WMV9 video files.
They feature an S-Master MX Digital Amplifier, and include Sony's Clear Audio technologies for the promise of deep bass, crystal clear highs, and reduced leakage between stereo channels. The company also claims that such sound-enhancing wizardry can also restore some sonic detail in heavily-compressed audio files.
The F800 Series battery is claimed to be good for 25 hours of audio or 4.5 hours of video playback and takes about four hours to recharge. These players come bundled with MDR-EX0300E in-ear phones.
The 8-GB S774BT has the same audio file support as the F800 Series players apart from HE-AAC and FLAC, and the same video format support, but the onboard battery should be good for 36 hours of audio or six hours of video playback between charges. This model is just 7 mm thin. It has a 2-inch QVGA LCD display and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. This model is supplied with MDR-NWBT10 Bluetooth headphones and MDR-EX083E in-ear cans.
The E570 Series is available in 8 GB and 16 GB flavors, and a red or black finish, but doesn't benefit from Bluetooth. They have the same size screen, thickness, audio and video format support and playback time as the S774BT but come with noise-canceling circuitry that, when combined with the supplied with MDR-NC033E noise-canceling headphones, is claimed to reduce background noise levels by 98 percent.
The introductory level 8 GB E474 has the same thickness as the S770BT and E570 Series players, and the same feature set and format support as the latter players but doesn't benefit from noise-canceling technology. This model comes bundled with MDR-EX083E in-ear phones
All of the new models are compatible with Sony's E473K portable speaker dock and its Music Unlimited subscription service.
The full range is available in Europe from this month, with the F800 and E470 Series enjoying a Stateside release in August. The 16-GB F800 Series will retail for US$269.99 and the 32 GB will cost $299.99. The E474 is priced at $89.99.