Sony has just unveiled its new lineup of Walkman players, which consists of four players. Three are variations of a more traditional style MP3 player, while the fourth is a new top model Android based media player.
Starting at the top, the F800 is the Android based player in the bunch. It features a 3.5-inch screen with an unknown resolution, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, WiFi, Bluetooth, and Google Play access. Powering the device is a Tegra 2 chip, which while dual core and all that, is still a 1.5 year old chip at this point. With a price of up to $300 for the 32GB model, you basically have to want the small size of the device in order to pick it over the $200-$250 tablets that are popping up all over the place.
If size is an issue, you might even want to drop Android powered devices altogether, and instead look at the three non-Android devices in Sony’s new lineup. Called the E470, E570, and S770BT series, the only thing that seems to separate the three is how they handle the headphones. The E470 is the most traditional, supporting just normal headphones. The E570 supports – and comes with - noise cancelling headphones, similar to many Sony players in the past. The S770BT is the Bluetooth model, and actually comes bundled with a Bluetooth receiver. They all share the same 2-inch QVGA screen and up to 36 hours of audio playback.
Mind you though that the information of these players, in true Sony tradition, varies depending on location. The US press release doesn’t mention the E570 and S770BT, while the EU press page doesn’t mention any other capacity than 8GB for the E470. I guess we’ll see what comes out where in the beginning of August.
[Sony EU via The Verge | Phandroid]
Sony is one of the few companies still in the MP3 player game, and it’s trying its best to keep that part of the business afloat. With smartphones and tablets becoming more and more popular, making MP3 players into mobile device accessories might be the only way to save the product category in the years to come. That’s the idea behind the Smart Wireless Headset pro as well, and it bridges the two categories in a new and at least somewhat interesting way.
The Smart Wireless Headset pro is essentially an advanced Bluetooth A2DP adapter merged with an MP3 player. On its own it’s an 18 gram MP3 player that plays music off a microSDHC card for about 12 hours before the black and white OLED display goes dark. When connected to a Bluetooth device it’s a wireless dongle that allows you to cut at least part of the cord between your device and headphones. When connected to an Android device, it also gains a nifty SMS/email notification system on the built-in display and via text-to-speech. Finally, there’s an FM radio.
This is definitely a hybrid device, and by that I mean that its selling point is its ability to do several things, rather than do one thing well. There’s no mention of aptX codec support for the Bluetooth stream, which means it falls short of some other Bluetooth adapters for that functionality. MP3 and Wav as the only supported music formats, along with a ton of other missing MP3 player features, also makes this a poor straight out substitute for something like the Sansa Clip line. Finally, SMS and email notifications in the age of smart watches like the Pebble is a novelty at best.
Perhaps the biggest nail in this device’s coffin however is the price. $129 for a hybrid device really stretches things when you can get a Clip Zip, Jabra Clipper, and $56 towards a Pebble for the price of this jack of all trades, master of none. I think $59 or $69 is the absolute max that Sony should charge for something like this, and instead it’s charging those two prices combined. That’s Sony for your though, constantly coming up with at least half decent ideas whose obvious shortcomings are less of an issue than the Apple-esque price.
[Sony via Engadget]
While we may be a little partial here at ABI to some great sounding headphones paired with a clean sounding DAP on the go, there are surely those times when you just want to share your tunes with everyone around you. Those of us that don’t venture into the iOS world have a little harder time pairing up to a speaker dock, but there are still some choices out there. This is when the Sony SA-NS500 portable speaker comes into play. A portable speaker rated up to 8 hours of operation without being plugged in, 4 tweeters spreading 360 degree sound, and an upward firing woofer packaged in a….dare we say eye catching design, is sure to land on our radar. To top it off, the NS500 is DLNA compatible, Airplay compatible, and is set up for Sony’s Party Streaming feature to spread music around your house in different rooms wirelessly. How does this intriguing package stack up to the dime a dozen companion speakers out there? You’re going to have to read on to find out. Continue reading…
Besides sporting a more edgy case design, the B170 series looks very much like the B160 series Sony released last year (which itself looked exactly like the two year old B150 series, sans the clip on the back). The three-line LCD display on the new one looks even tinier than before – or maybe that’s just because it isn’t hidden behind a ‘seamless’ glossy plastic cover as on its ancestors.
There’s nothing new or exciting as far as the B170′s specs go – it’s the exact same as all the other B-series players before it. It plays MP3 and WMA, sports the usual bass booster and ‘Zap’ (intro scan) button, and is rated at about 18 hours of playback time. A three minute quick charge should give 90 minutes of playback time, and a full recharge only takes 70 minutes. A USB plug is hidden under the B170′s cap, so one doesn’t need to bring an extra cable for file transfers or charging. I assume MTP is the transfer protocol of choice here, as with all other Sony players, but usually they can be easily changed to MSC transfer mode, if one wishes to do so.
The B170 comes in 2 and 4 GB varieties – without expansion slot, of course. Its retail price hasn’t been announced yet, but I guess it won’t cost an arm and a leg.
[Sony press release via Engadget - thanks to Peaceful1 for the tip.]
Sony’s Android-driven Z series Walkman which we talked about earlier is finally ready for launch in the western world.
Some hardware and software specs sure are a bit of a letdown – no MKV or subtitle support for video, no FLAC/Vorbis for audio, only 20 hours audio and 5 hours video battery life, no SD slot, no camera, no GPS, almost no tactile buttons, and so on.
On the other hand, the 1 GHz dual-core Tegra 2 in the X series should be beefy enough for demanding apps, and the included official Android Market makes sure you get said apps as easily as possible onto the device. All is fine on the connectivity front as well, from Wi-Fi B/G/N over Bluetooth 2.1+EDR (A2DP, AVRCP, OPP) to HDMI-out. The Z series sports Sony’s usual S-Master amp and tons of sound enhancements and EQ presets. Let’s hope those are global settings, like on the Cowon D3, so any 3rd party app can access them as well.
Considering Sony’s competition in the Android non-phone market, ranging from various inexpensive Archos devices to Samsung Galaxy Players, the price of the Z sure isn’t the biggest bargain, with the 8 GB model going for $250, the 16 GB one for $280, and the 32 GB bigwig for $330. Remember: no SD slot available.
On a side note, I wonder how that “Eurphoric” typo managed to sneak into Sony’s official press image on the right… I would recommend MP3Tag for future press shots.
[Sony press release (with full specs sheet) via Engadget]
Now this is a bit of a surprise, Sony announcing an Android media player that isn’t a phone, next to their Xperia models. It might be released as late as 2012, and maybe it stays in Japan – but we sure wouldn’t mind an international release.
The Z1000 looks like the much needed upgrade for the slightly outdated X1000, which was Sony’s first foray into touch screen media players. It runs on Android 2.3, has a 4.3″ 480×800 screen (of unknown technology), Bluetooth 2.1, Wifi B/G/N, no camera or SD slot, and comes in capacities up to 64GB. Knowing Sony’s usual modus operandi, these larger capacities probably won’t make it to North American shores…
So far it sounds quite a bit like the Cowon D3, but the audio and video codec support of the Z1000 sure seems a bit meager: MP3, AAC, WMA, and – of utmost importance – ATRAC for audio. On the video side we get MPEG4, h264 (Baseline only), and WMV support up to 1080p resolution. Well, let’s just hope VLC for Android is out when the Z1000 is going to be released.
Before I forget it, the one thing that decidedly doesn’t resemble the Cowon D3 is the processor used in the Z1000: a 1GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 with 512MB RAM. Let’s see if the claimed battery life of 20 hours for audio and 5 hours for video can be reached in reality…
Thanks to TheFaze for the tip. Sony Z Series website (in Japanese), with lots of juicy product shots.
Sony fans no longer have to worry about leaked information on their new lineup. It’s been made official, and all 3 models will feature Sony’s exclusive Clear Audio Technologies, Karaoke mode, lyric support, playlist support’ and bookmarking. To compete with other high end players, Sony has added SensMe which keeps your music in tune with your mood by automatically categorizing your music tracks into different channels.
The stereo-Bluetooth equipped A-series leads the way and features a 2.8-inch (400×240) touch screen, as oppose to the rumored 3.4-inch that would have been much more enjoyable. as mentioned, the Clear Audio Tech is bundled with the new player as well as the new S-Master MX digital amplifier technology which Sony says reduces noise level and distortion, to create a superb sound experience. The audio detail should come through pretty clear with Sony’s bundled premium earbuds, which are arguably the best bundled buds available. 8Gb will set you back $179 with the 16Gb version leaving you $219 lighter in the wallet. No mention of storage expansion, which is a serious letdown.
UK retailer play.com has jumped the gun with some press images of the new luxury Sony player, and they look fantastic. The new A series player features a
3.4-inch 2.8-inch OLED touch screen, and a similar, but much more evolved design from previous A series players. Strangely enough, the player features wireless file sharing and wireless music streaming but doesn’t come equipped with Wi-Fi. It’s likely Sony will use its Bluetooth tech for these services.
Pricing for the A series will start at $225 for the 8GB version, $267 for 16Gb, $352 for 32Gb and the big 64Gb model will run you $494. The pricing seems pretty absurd at this point considering 64GB competitors are about $100 cheaper than this Sony model. Hopefully that changes with the official release in the coming days, but we shall see.
Sony is really bringing some beautiful designs back to its product lineup. Its new Vaio computers are stunning, its S1 and S2 tablets look to bring some real design to the world of copy cat slates, and its new DAP lineup is simply gorgeous. Of course beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but I’d say there aren’t too many disappointed Sony fans out there after seeing these images. The pricing is surely a little disappointing though.
The MiniDisc, which was launched in the mid 90′s as a middle ground between a tape, cd and an mp3 player, is getting the plug pulled this September. The format was barely accepted in the U.S. and most other countries, but was a pretty big success in Japan though. You were able to record audio directly on the disc on some players similar to a tape, as well as load it up from your computer.
Personally, I had a Sony MiniDisc player when they launched and had a grest time with it. It was a neon lime green player which was pretty sport focussed. It was a nice little player at first, but then gradually became more hassle than it was worth. Just like any worthwhile portable player, it will always hold a special place in my heart. Feel free to share your images in our show off thread if ya have one. This ones for the MiniDisc!
LODs are cables that allow you to get proper line-out from a player, circumventing some of the internal circuitry in order to provide a raw signal to an external amplifier- be it a headphone amp, car audio system or home audio system. FiiO has several of these available, and unlike most companies they don’t just make them for iDevices but also for other brands. Specifically, they have LODs for the Sansa Fuze and Sony Walkman players that use Sony’s proprietary docking port. Both cables are now available at DealExtreme, priced at $8.40 for the Sony cable and $8.50 for the Fuze cable. They also have a short 3.5mm male-to-male interconnecting cable, which should be perfect for those who use headphone amps on other players and want a short interconnect between player and amp. That one is priced at $5.70, and all three have free (slow-as-hell) worldwide shipping. FiiO makes decent products, and the prices are pretty decent also.