|Sony Walkman Bean
Sony today introduced yet another flash-based
player to its growing lineup of digital audio players: the
Walkman Bean NW-E300 series. Designed with a decidedly feminine
touch, the cute lima bean-shaped player boasts a built-in
retractable USB port, a single-line OLED display, and a time and
date feature. The 512MB NW-E305 comes in Coconut White and
Tropical Ice Blue, while the 1GB NW-E307 comes in Black Licorice
and, yes, Cotton Candy Pink. All models will be available in
September and have retail prices of $129.95 and $179.95 for the
512MB and 1GB versions, respectively.
Upside: You have to admit that the E300 series is compact and
adorable, and it will certainly appeal to those into cute tech.
Like the E500 series, the E300 series includes an FM tuner and
will play back MP3 and Sony's own ATRAC3 formats. This is the
first Sony design with an integrated USB 2.0 port, and it
features a bright and legible one-line monochrome OLED display.
In addition, the unit's built-in rechargeable battery has an
impressive rated life of 50 hours and features quick charging,
which will conveniently give you 3 hours of battery life after
only three minutes of USB-based charging.
Cute comes at a cost. Though they are "yummy" (according to a
Sony spokesperson), the Walkman Bean NW-E300 series are priced
higher than many flash-based players with more features such as
line-in and voice recording. And while the devices play MP3s
natively, make sure you want to commit to Sony's Connect for
purchasing tunes. Another observation: You hold this player like
a cigarette lighter, with your thumb on the main navigation
button. When controlling the player, the user's hand obscures
the view of the LCD.
Sony has been aggressive in 2005 with the launch of several
flash-based players and one very good hard drive-based player
that distinguish themselves with stylish design and
industry-leading battery life. The E300 series will certainly
appeal to an audience--perhaps so far untapped--that values
style and the cuteness factor and who don't mind spending a
little extra to get it. It's a good thing that the E300 looks
like a performer as well, given the hypercompetitiveness of the