Despite their obvious simplicity MP3 players with direct USB connections haven't really caught on by comparison to their more glamorous alternatives but could Sony and its ever threatening-to-get-it-right Walkman brand be about to change that?
The latest in its constantly changing line up of flash based players is the new NW-E series which sports a funky three line OLED display (capable of displaying album art), has support for ATRAC, MP3, AAC and WMA and is fitted with an FM tuner.
At just 83 x 22.8 x 14mm these players are also teeny and weigh a mere 29g but that's not to say they won't last the course because Sony is quoting a substantial 30 hour battery life (though naturally when playing ATRAC). On the downside the players will come bundled with the consistently dreadful SonicStage software (in this case version 4.3).
1GB (NW-E013F), 2GB (NW-E015F) and 4GB (NW-E016) capacities will be unleashed initially in Japan for $92, $117 and $168 respectively. A European launch date has yet to be firmed up but when it (inevitably) is they should give the shuffle a few sleepless nights. Which it should, screen-less players are sooo 2005.