Sony Product Launch

There's usually something pretty special at a Sony product launch, and this time definitely wasn't an exception.

Showing that Apple hasn’t got the upper hand, Sony was also exhibiting two new hard disk based digital music players.

The 20GB NW-HD1 has been available in Japan for a while and the European market has been waiting eagerly for it. Although pictures of this device have been floating around the web for a while, yet again they really don’t do it justice.

The NW-HD1 really does look incredible and it’s also far smaller and lighter than an iPod – with dimensions of 89 x 62 x 13mm (WxHxD) and a weight of only 112g. The device is finished in brushed aluminium and fits into the palm of even the smallest of hands.

The NW-HD1 comes with a docking cradle for charging and file transfer and on a full charge, Sony estimates a staggering 30 hours of play time. The NW-HD1 doesn’t ship with a remote control, but we did manage to plug the remote from a Hi-MD player into it and it worked perfectly. Unfortunately, the NW-HD1 still won’t natively play MP3 files, and as with all Sony devices, you’ll have to convert your MP3 library via the SonicStage software that comes with it.

After taking an absolute age to venture into the hard disk music player market, Sony has decided to bring two products out almost simultaneously. Also on show was the VAIO Pocket – due for release in the next few weeks.

Unlike the NW-HD1, the VAIO Pocket has a full colour screen that will not only display the track information, but can also display pictures of album covers for fast and easy navigation. But the 2.2in colour screen adds to the size, and the VAIO Pocket is nowhere near as svelte as its sibling – at 115.2 x 63.3 x mm 17.3mm (WxHxD) and weighing 195g for the 20GB version. There is also a 40GB version which adds 3mm to the depth and 10g to the weight.

The VAIO Pocket ships with a docking cradle for charging and file transfer, while the supplied remote control has a backlit display to save you having to take the device out of your pocket every time you want to make an adjustment. However, if you do take the VAIO Pocket out of your, err, pocket, you’ll be able use Sony’s Grid Sense. This is like touch-screen control without having to touch the screen – the grid to the right of the screen equates to the screen area, so you can navigate the display without having to touch it. It definitely takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s pretty intuitive once you get the hang of it.

Again, there’s no native support for MP3, which could put off potential buyers with huge MP3 libraries.

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