Today (04/04/06), Sony officially announced a new E-Series Network Walkman lineup. This walkman, unlike the previous series, takes the form of a standard USB thumb drive, making it easy to transfer files back and forth without additional equipment. This product is very similar to Apple’s iPod Shuffle; except for a bonus it has an OLED display. The E-Series will be available in six bright colors: sliver, green, blue, pink, violet, and black. Sony stated that the new walkman would be available in three base models: 512MB, 1GB, and 2GB. (certain models include a FM tuner)
Sony also uses very powerful batteries allowing longer lasting battery life than any Apple iPod. With their quick charge technology, 3 minutes of charging offers 3 hours of playback. (total battery life ~28hrs) Sony has finally been able to get licensing from Microsoft so that they can play WMA (DRM-Free) files along with Mp3 and Atrac formats. Unfortunately purchased music can only be played on this walkman if they are downloaded from Sony’s Connect Music Store. ($0.99/song) Sony also bundles SonicStage, management software, which is very similar to iTunes.
We had tested an older E-Series walkman, the NW-E407, and it was in fact much more robust than the iPod Shuffle. The new Walkman will be available towards the end of April 2006, but no prices have been set. If the prices are reasonable we would recommend this over the iPod Shuffle because of the FM tuner, battery life, and display. Please check back for any updates.