By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
LAS VEGAS — Sony is waterproofing its latest all-in-one Sports MP3 player, broadening the device’s addressable market beyond health-and-fitness enthusiasts to include swimmers and other water sports enthusiasts.
The 4GB MP3 player, shipping in March at a tentative everyday $99, integrates controls and memory into the left and right in-ear ear buds, which are connected by a flexible wire-like headband that wraps around the back of the head and goes over top the ears.
The previous version of the product was water-resistant, but the replacement can be dunked in up to 6.5 feet of water for 60 minutes, said Brian Pancarik, senior product and business manager of the company’s personal audio division.
All-in-one MP3 players appeal to fitness buffs, joggers and others who want to listen to music while they’re active but don’t want to get tangled in wires running from their head to an MP3 player held by an armband or belt clip, he said.
Sony made the new model waterproof by replacing a MicroUSB charging port covered by a gasket with embedded metal charging strips that mate with a charging cradle. The strips won’t corrode unless placed in salt water. The 13.5mm drivers are protected by a membrane.
Although the new model is smaller than its predecessor, it delivers about the same battery life of eight hours. If the battery is fully discharged, three minutes of recharging will yield 60 minutes of playback time.
The MP3 player will be available in four colors.
Sony also offers portable media players (PMPs) with 2-inch screens and an Android-based PMP with 16GB and 32GB capacities, but the company said it doesn’t see the two-year-old Android models staying in the line past late summer.
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