While its long-running battle with HD DVD may finally be over, Sony has another on its hands: the one between its dedicated Walkman players and its hybrid Sony Ericsson Walkman mobile phones and the former is losing badly. Will its latest do anything to reverse the trend? Doubtful.
Don't get me wrong, the new 'NWZ-A820' (the follow up to the impressive NWZ-A815) is a fine beast. It throws Bluetooth with A2DP into the mix for wireless headphone listening, increases storage capacity with a choice of 8GB and 16GB models, has Sony's famed battery life (36 hours for audio, 10 hours for video) and is ultra portable at 59g.
Adding yet more goodness is a wide range of codec support including MP3, WMA, ATRAC, Sony PCM and AAC / High Efficiency AAC, plus MPEG-4 / H.264 though the screen is fairly average at 2.4in and with no touchscreen functionality. Against this is the fact that no matter what you pay (release and pricing have yet to be announced) a Walkman phone is almost inevitably free on a monthly contract, already offers Bluetooth and means you only need to carry one device. Hey, it's not Sony's fault - it's the changing face of the industry.
Less threatened by all-conquering handsets are the company's budget range and they also receive a boost today in the shape of the latest stick-style E Series. The E023F (1GB), E025F (2GB) and E026F (4GB) all play ATRAC, MP3, WMA and AAC, come with three line displays and the usual teeny dimensions plus removable covers. As usual these range from the tacky to the reasonably nice (above) and for just $12 a shot probably add some value.
The E series will launch first in Japan will prices ranging from $100 to $150, expect a quiet launch over here within a few months.
Over to you Sony Ericsson...