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Sony takes aim at iPod with MP3-compatible player

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By LC Angell

Contributing Editor
Published: Tuesday, November 30, 2004
News Categories: iPod

pic In a move aimed squarely at iPod, Sony today introduced the NW-HD3 Network Walkman, its first hard disk-based player to support the popular MP3 song format. The 20GB device is the successor of Sony’s first hard disk Walkman (introduced earlier this year), which only supported the company’s proprietary Atrac file format. Sony claims that the NW-HD3, which now comes in four new colors, plays 2.5 times longer than the iPod on a single charge, and can hold several thousand more songs thanks to the Atrac compression. However, the new Walkman will sell for approximately 30 pounds more than the iPod. It will be available in the UK before Christmas at 249 pounds ($462.70) and elsewhere in Europe in early 2005 at 369 euros ($489). The NW-HD3 will also go on sale in Japan this month for around ¥42,000 ($408.76). There is no word yet on US plans.

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Comments

1

Anyone who read the reuters article feel the irony in sony’s statement that they want to remove the monopoly on the market by just one company? I thought that was pretty funny, seeing as how they used to be *the* personal/home electronics manufacturer.

Posted by nano in The Shore, NJ on November 30, 2004 at 9:07 AM (PDT)

2

hmmm, yawn…

Posted by realworlder on November 30, 2004 at 9:17 AM (PDT)

3

If anyone needs a reason OTHER than price, features, and ease-of-use to AVOID a Walkman, check out how bad the accompanying software, store, and download format (8TRAC) are:

http://tech2.nytimes.com/mem/technology/techreview.html?res=9F04EED61E3DF935A35756C0A9629C8B63

http://www.cd-rw.org/news/archive/5257.cfm

Adding support for MP3 is such a revolution it gets a new model name? OK…

20 GB for nearly $500 better NOT come to the US :D

Posted by Nagromme on November 30, 2004 at 10:01 AM (PDT)

4

Well they are actually DRMing the MP3.  They wrap a layer around the song so it can’t be coped back.  It’s in their press release.  Use Google Translate.

Posted by J. Tro on November 30, 2004 at 10:22 AM (PDT)

5

Oh, so is *this* one the iPod killer?  Better than the last iPod killer.  And the one before that.  And that.  And…

Posted by m. sherman in Northern VA on November 30, 2004 at 10:59 AM (PDT)

6

the software is so crappy although the mp3 player itself really looked good when I saw it at futureshop.

Posted by frankthetank on November 30, 2004 at 11:04 AM (PDT)

7

*The one I saw was HD1.

Posted by frankthetank on November 30, 2004 at 11:05 AM (PDT)

8

12 months from now the headline will read: “SONY WITHDRAWS FROM PORTABLE MP3 PLAYER MARKET-POOR SALES”

Posted by jcs in USA on November 30, 2004 at 11:15 AM (PDT)

9

So let me get this straight…...the iPod is dominating the American market. Sony wants a piece of that pie, so they don’t release it in America? I’m confused….

Posted by Jeff C. on November 30, 2004 at 11:40 AM (PDT)

10

Please,I beg everyone to avoid Sony’s software. Their hardware is fine but we got a Sony PC w/ Sony Sonic Stage. We loaded all of our music into it which turned all of our tracks into atrac. One day,the program locked up and crashed. We rebooted the computer only to find several THOUSAND songs gone from the library. When we found the songs in the main folder they were all corrupted and gone.  Our mp3’s were fine but anything in atrac was gone.

Posted by Grumpy on November 30, 2004 at 11:59 AM (PDT)

11

Just like Sony…come out with a potential hit, but price it out of the range of normal people.  They did the same thing with the Minidisc platform.  Oh, yeah, don’t forget about the Betamax video cassette.  You would think they’d learn.

Posted by jfarrx19 in Pittsburgh, Pa. on November 30, 2004 at 12:00 PM (PDT)

12

i’ll say it:  sony sucks

Posted by J. Tro on November 30, 2004 at 12:54 PM (PDT)

13

The quality of Sony products has gone dramatically downhill. They realised that lots of people were buying their products as they had a good reputation. Then, they must’ve thought, “well, people trust us now, why bother making quality products?”

I don’t buy Sony stuff now, except where it makes no odds, say, a blank CD or casette.

In my opinion, this is the first iPod killer, however, as stated before, the price is obsurd, for £30 less you can get a (IMO) better player, simpler to use, faster transfer rates.


Now at least people can’t complain that Apple overprices stuff, seeing as there is something more expensive for the same size HDD

Posted by silver_haze on November 30, 2004 at 1:20 PM (PDT)

14

It’s good Sony is beginning to lose its weird affection for Atrac. This lossy format consistently tests last in blind quality tests:

http://www.rjamorim.com/test/multiformat128/plot18z.png

I mean look at this - Atrac is even being beaten by WMA!

Posted by Demosthenes on November 30, 2004 at 1:36 PM (PDT)

15

re: silver_haze

The ratings do unfairly represent the Sony-player, whose basic format is Atrac3PLUS instead of ATRAC3, a significant difference. Furthermore, the point of the release of above-mentioned player is exactly the fact that it makes it possible to use the regular MP3 format for the first time in a Sony HD-based player instead of Atrac.

There are actually some interesting advantages to the Sony-model, including smaller size and double battery life of the iPod.

Posted by Allon on November 30, 2004 at 4:41 PM (PDT)

16

Oh. Oh, All this iPod competitor bashing.  I as a loyal & proud owner of both 2nd Gen and 3rd Gen iPods, say bring on the compition.  Its good to see these new products hitting the marketplace.  It will keep the iPod engineers on their toes as well as help keep Apple’s priceing points in check. Compition drives ingenuity & technology breakthroughs.

Posted by WasKal in Indy on November 30, 2004 at 4:43 PM (PDT)

17

Grumpy-

I think what happened to you is something you did…not a design flaw.

Posted by Talking Madness in Los Angeles on November 30, 2004 at 6:12 PM (PDT)

18

man I have been bashing this thing relentlessly any chance i get, i was playing around with the hd1 in best buy and my thumb is too big for the buttons, the screen is too damn small, and it is more expensive than an ipod, which is the only argument people have ever had with me over the ipod, I think the “ipod killer” is great because we now have a crappier more expensive player to go against the ipod and laugh at while the sony people jump off the top of their diamond towers

Posted by Zer0cool in Cold City AntArctica on November 30, 2004 at 7:36 PM (PDT)

19

it makes it possible to use the regular MP3 format for the first time in a Sony HD-based player instead of Atrac.

You stil have to process the mp3s by wrapping them in some DRM cruft. How long does this take? Is is a tremendous pain in the arse? I think so!

Posted by Demosthenes on November 30, 2004 at 7:49 PM (PDT)

20

For users of the earlier hard disc Walkman, the firmware update to make the device MP3 compatible will cost $20 US. That is a high price to pay for something that iPod users get for free. iPod killer? More like Walkman-killer if you ask me.

Posted by Sol in Brisbane, Australia on November 30, 2004 at 8:18 PM (PDT)

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