LAS VEGAS —
Sony company is joining Archos, Samsung and Philips in adopting Android as the OS for portable media players that are able to download apps and games, much like an iPod Touch.
Like the Samsung and Philips models, the Sony Z-series Walkman Mobile Entertainment Player downloads app from the Android Market. The Archos models access the AppsLib market.
The Sony player will be available in three memory capacities: 8GB, 16GB and 32GB priced at $249, $279 and $329, respectively. They’re tentatively scheduled to ship in early March.
Like other Walkman players, the Z-series player is focused on quality audio reproduction, said product manager Brian Pancarik, and it accesses Sony’s Music Unlimited music-streaming service via Wi-Fi.
The player, however, also performs all of the same types of functions as an iPod Touch, including app downloads, video playback, game playing, and — via builtin GPS and downloadable apps — as a portable navigation device that navigates from the apps’ onboard maps.
In the future, the Z-series Walkman will get an update to play the PlayStation Suite of select PlayStation games designed for use on PlayStation-certified Xperia Play smartphones from Sony Ericsson.
Key features include Android 2.3 OS, 4.3-inch 800 by 480 display, 1GHz dual-core Tegra 2 processor, micro HDMI video output to display content on an HDMI- connected TV, and DLNA certification to send audio and video via Wi-Fi to other DLNA devices for playback. It also features stereo Bluetooth and FM tuner.
A dedicated W button on one side launches a music mini player to control play/stop previous/next when listening to music while another app is in use or when the phone is locked. The partial-screen mini player interface, which appears on top of whatever app is in use, also displays metadata and album art.
The device uses display technology used in Bravia TVs to eliminate an air gap between the LCD panel and glass to make the display non-reflective, improve brightness and contrast, and ensure blacks remain black when viewed at an angle.
It also features FM tuner and G sensor but no video camera or video chat capability.
Proprietary SensMe technology categorizes stored tracks by mood, enabling users to select music for playback by mood.
They also access Sony’s streaming music service, now called Music Unlimited, available to network- connected Sony TVs, Blu-ray players, HTiB systems and PlayStation3 game console as well as for any PC.