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Sony relaunches Walkman to challenge iPod

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Sony today took its Walkman brand into the MP3 era, launching a pair of digital music players without the 'Network' prefix to the famous portable player moniker.

Sony Walkman 20GBThe players come in a slick, stylish casing and are pitched at the mid-range and high-end segments, typified by the now defunct iPod Mini and the still-rocking iPod, respectively.

But both borrow from the iPod Suffle, bringing My Favourite Shuffle and Time Machine Shuffle options to the players' menus. The first randomly selects 100 songs from among the user's most frequently played tracks, while the second chooses a year then plays all the tracks released during that timeframe. The user-interface now provides an A-Z initial-letter search to help users navigate through large music collections.

The NW-A1000 contains 6GB of storage, while the NW-A3000 contains a 20GB hard drive. Both sport OLED screens 1.5in and 2in, respectively, in the diagonal. Despite the 'NW' names, the players will be marketed to consumers under the familiar Walkman brand, not the less-well-understood 'Network Walkman' tag. Like past Network Walkman products, the new models play MP3 and ATRAC 3 tracks natively.

The 20GB Walkman is available in violet and silver hues, while the 6GB unit comes in violet, silver, pink and blue. All of them ship with colour-coordinated headphones, Sony said. The company will also offer a range of "design-matching" accessories, including a remote control, dock, carrying cases and speakers.

The 6GB models cost £169, while the 20GB unit costs £199. Both will ship at the end of October. ®

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