Looks like my fellow MP3 editor Donald Bell is gonna have to CES 2009. I can wait longer than that, personally, because while this player has some sweet features, there's something about the look of it that comes off as just a touch generic to me. Still, Sony tends to do a good job of giving its portables a nice, solid feel, so I suppose I'll wait to cast my final judgment until tomorrow when I get to lay hands on the player for a photo shoot. (Stay tuned for a slide show a bit later this week.), although he was right about one thing: we won't be seeing a touch-screen MP3 player from Sony all that soon in the States. You're going to have to wait until May to get your hands on the X-Series Walkman, which was officially announced at
In the meantime, about those features: there are a lot of them. The X-Series Walkman offers a three inch OLED display with wide-screen-format compatibility. While the majority of control is taken care of on the touch screen, the player also offers an array of tactile keys, including a dedicated volume toggle and a prominent home button; Sony calls this a "hybrid operation system." Extras include an FM tuner and integrated Wi-Fi, which will allow for automatic podcast updating and streaming from content providers such as YouTube, which you may recall is not presently available on the iPod Touch. The X-Series will offer a fairly wide array of content support--MP3, WMA, AAC, and L-PCM (WAV) on the audio side and AVC(H.264/AVC), MPEG-4, and WMV for video (and that WMV includes the protected variety offered by sites such as Amazon Video On Demand).
Considering the already-impressive audio quality offered by the Sony Walkman line, we weren't expecting much of an improvement in this area on the X-Series. However, Sony asserts that this player will sound even better than any predecessors, thanks to its new Digital Clear Audio Technologies and "S-Master" Digital Amplifier. Also, as with the S-Series, the X-Series will offer integrated noise-canceling functionality and complementing headphones.
The X-Series will be available in 16GB and 32GB capacities, and while Sony wouldn't release an estimated MSRP due to fluctuating flash pricing, I was able to confirm that it will be priced competitively when compared to the iPod Touch. Natch.