Sony's New Walkmans

September means only one thing: It's time for Apple's announcement of its new iPods.

But it's still August, and that means that everyone else wants to steal Steve Jobs' thunder. For example, Sony has announced new additions to its line of Walkman players: the new B-Series, E-Series, and S-Series. All models support MP3, AAC, and both DRM and non-DRM WMA audio. The video players accept WMV, H.264, and MPEG-4 video files.

The S-Series (pictured) is the primo stuff, and is slick indeed. For starters, it has Sony's noise-canceling system (the same one on the NWZ-S710). You can use the NC with the bundled earphones, and an accessory cable is included that lets you use the Walkman as a standalone noise-canceling box for other headphones of your choosing. Excellent.

Also on board the gunmetal-black finished player is a 2-inch color screen, FM tuner, WMV suppport, and a podcast menu for management of content. The S Series players also have a customizable interface that includes various themes, and you can use personal photos as wallpaper. A SensMe Channels feature analyzes music to create custom playlists based on the tracks' speed, mood, and rhythm. Battery life is rated at 40 hours for audio playback. The S-Series is available in 4GB ($149.95) and 8GB ($179.95) capacities.

The other series....

The middle E-Series players feature a 2-inch color screen and WMV support. Battery life is rated at 45 hours for audio and 8 hours for video. It is available in four colors: black, red, pink, or blue. It is available in 4GB ($99.95) and 8GB ($139.95) versions.

The budget B-Series players feature a USB interface, FM tuner, and voice recorder. A quick charge function allows 90 minutes of playback from a three-minute charge. The 1GB ($44.95) version comes in black, red, or blue. The 2GB ($59.95) version comes in black, red, or pink.

iPod? What iPod? -Ken C. Pohlmann