Sony's opening up its new Network Walkman players, abandoning its old reliance on ATRAC compression and the much-disliked proprietary Connect software in favour of Windows Media Audio (WMA) and drag-and-drop copying from computer to player.

The new machines can handle secure WMA, as well as AAC and MP3 audio formats, and also handle JPEG picture files, and MPEG-4 and H.264/AVC video.

Sony's VP of Audio Marketing for Europe, says of the move that 'This announcement to support Windows Media technology is great news for consumers. By introducing an open standard Sony is increasing the consumer’s choice of content and enhancing the versatility of its products. Ultimately, consumers can now decide how they want to purchase and manage content.'

Two new series of players are on the way: the silver model shown here is an NWZ-A810 model, which comes in 2GB, 4GB and 8GB versions, with a maximum capacity of 1850 songs or 30 hours of video. It has a 2in screen, and a battery said to be good for 33 hours of audio or 8 hours of video.

The NWZ-510 audio-only models have a 1.82in screen, and broadly similar battery life, and come in 2GB or 4GB, while the NWZ-610F models add video capability and an FM tuner.

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