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Sony Debuts First PMPs in U.S.

San Diego — Sony is releasing this month its first open-platform Walkman MP3 players to support Windows Media technology and work with most music download Web sites, as well as its first video-capable models.

Previous Sony Walkman MP3 players worked only with the SonyConnect music Web site while the new models are compatible with PlaysForSure-based sites and subscription-based services including Rhapsody, said the company.

The new NWZ-S610 and NWZ-A810 series are both portable media players that support music and video under the MPEG-4 and AVC baseline formats. The 610 offers a 1.8-inch diagonal, 320 by 240, QVGA widescreen, and the 810 offers a 2-inch screen. Both also support MP3, WMA, AAC and include digital sound enhancement. The 810 is bundled with higher-quality headphones, while the smaller 610 has an FM tuner. Both have lithium-ion batteries rated at 33 hours of music and eight hours of video playback.

Tentative suggested retails for 2GB, 4GB and 8GB versions of the 610 are $120, 160 and $210, respectively. Similar versions of the 810 are priced from $140 to $230. Both will be available in September.

Also new is a NWZ-B100 MP3 audio series (without video) featuring an FM tuner and FM recording capability, voice recorder and drag-and-drop transfer of non-DRM content. The players store 485 songs on a 2GB version and 235 songs on a 1GB model at estimated suggested retails of $60 and $80, respectively.

The new models will replace the current Walkman MP3 line.