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Sony A-Series Walkman
"That's all I can stands and I can't stands no more"

Sony is tired of having its butt kicked by Apple in the portable audio market. The iPod has consistently thwarted any attempt by Sony to grab a foothold on the market even after several valiant attempts. Sales figures show that Apple sold almost twice as many music players in the first three months of 2006 than Sony did in all of the previous fiscal year. According to a top Sony executive, the company is ready to take another jab at the venerable iPod. Whether those punches deliver any serious damage remain to be seen.

Sony is hoping to launch the new series of players in time for the Holiday '06 buying season; right about the time when the company's highly anticipated PlayStation 3 is due to hit shelves around the world. The new music players also promise to focus heavily on design and battery life. From Digital Tokyo World:

Apple has a commanding lead in the music player market and is particularly strong in the U.S., where it's estimated to command more than 80 percent market share. Sony has tried to unseat Apple in that market before with little success, and its recently launched A-series Walkman digital music players are on sale only in Japan and Europe.

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MP3 does work natively
By Madzombie on 5/1/2006 6:54:00 PM , Rating: 2
While I agree that Sonicstage is software from the pits of hell some aspects aren't as bad as they used to be. I have a 20GB Sony player and have been using MP3s without hassle since the day I got it. It doesn't need to transcode them or authorise them online. Once I've wrestled with the software to get MP3s onto the player they work great. However, getting music back off it is impossible, which seriously sucks, and it only seems to let you use it with one computer. Any more and it asks you to reformat the player. It offers very little freedom but the stories of needing to transcode MP3 have had no relevence for over a year now.

RE: MP3 does work natively
By TomZ on 5/1/2006 9:00:06 PM , Rating: 2
My understanding is that their software transcodes to ATRAC when you upload MP3s to the player, which is why you can't download the files back off the player. Also, my understanding is that the software knows to not allow you to use multiple computers because it contacts a Sony web server during the "authorization" process.

RE: MP3 does work natively
By Madzombie on 5/2/2006 7:58:15 AM , Rating: 2
That's what happened with their original players but on newer players and older ones with firmware upgrades it does transfer them as MP3 files without transcoding. If you check the music once it's on the player it will either say "atrac3plus" or "MP3" above the bitrate. Atrac3plus does not support VBR, yet whenVBR MP3 files are transferred it will display the average VBR bitrate. Also, there is the option to manually transcode, and this takes much longer than if you simply transfer, further suggesting that it normally just transfers the MP3 files as they are.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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