The first sign of fall in CNET's San Francisco office isn't the turning of leaves--it's the ever-increasing waves of new product announcements. MP3 players in particular start cropping up in late summer, perhaps in an attempt to get a jump on Apple's typical September iPod announcement.
Creative got an early start with its new Zen players a couple of weeks ago, and now Sony is joining the fray. Today, the company announced a rev to its Walkman line of MP3 players in the form of the B-Series, E-Series, and S-Series.
The S-Series represents the top of the line and is arguably the most exciting of the bunch. This new Walkman, which is available in a gunmetal black finish, comes with the integrated noise-canceling capability found on the Sony NWZ-S710.
A pair of complementing, high-end earphones are included in the package, along with an accessory cable that allows the player to be used as a standalone noise-canceling module for use with other audio devices--a unique feature that's ideal for use with in-flight entertainment systems.
Sony has also added support for WMV video (including DRM files from the likes of Amazon Unbox), an FM tuner, and a separate podcast menu item for easier management of the content. In addition, the S Series is the first Walkman to feature a customizable interface that includes a variety of themes and the ability to set personal photos as wallpaper.
Perhaps the coolest feature, however, is the SensMe Channels function, which is a "smart" DJ that uses an algorithm to analyze songs in order to create custom playlists (up to 11) based on each track's speed, mood, and rhythm. Other features include a 2-inch color screen and a rated battery life of 40 hours for audio. The S Series, which is available in 4GB and 8GB capacities for $149.95 and $179.95 (respectively), is expected to hit online shelves in the next three to four weeks. … Read more