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Sony officially details Android Walkman

Walkman Z series, due out December 10 in Japan, comes with a 1GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, 512MB of RAM, Android 2.3, and an enormous 4.3-inch LCD screen

Sony's long awaited Android Walkman is nearly here. Sony

Sony has unveiled the official details of the first touch-screen Android Walkman, with a Japanese release date of December 10 in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities.

The Walkman Z series comes with a 1GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, 512MB of RAM, and Android 2.3, all displayed through an enormous 4.3-inch LCD screen (480x800), according to a Sony Japan Web site (Google Translate.) Black, red, and a special Sony Store limited violet edition will float around various territories.

CNET's Stephen Shankland already provided much of this information during an exclusive reveal of the Android Walkman last month at IFA 2011.

Sony has certainly come a long way from the cassette Walkman of yesteryear.

Hardware features are impressive for a nonphone (such as mini-HDMI, DLNA, WM-Port/Mini-USB), but it is important to note the device only has Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1 wireless capabilities. GPS and a gyroscope is also built-in to make the device relevant with the wide variety of games and location-aware Android apps out there. The Z series can access the full Android market. Continuous battery life is average at 20 hours for music playback and 5 hours video.

As for sound enhancements (and reasons for actually buying this over an iPod), digital noise canceling and a built-in S-Master MX digital amplifier are included. Music codec support is vast, including MP3, WMA, ATRAC, ATRAC Advanced Lossless, Linear PCM, AAC, and HE-AAC. We assume ATRAC compatibility will not happen outside of Japan, as it has been for several years now. FM radio is on board for those commercial filled broadcasts that we can't seem to live without.

The Z series Walkman can play full 1080p/30fps through AVC/H.264 (10Mbps), MPEG-4 (.mp4, .m4v at 18Mbps) or WMV (20Mbps) videos. Sony combined all of the sound enhancements (Clear Bass, Clear Stereo, and DSEE) into one mode, called Clear Audio Technologies. There are also built-in speakers that get louder with the xLOUD feature, or you can check out the supplied EX300SL-equivalent headphones.

The side shot which shows off the curved rear of the Android Walkman Sony

Several preinstalled apps are already thrown in, such as Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Talk, a calculator, audio recorder, and others. W. Music is Sony's Android music playback app, which brings together all of the UI elements Sony has experimented their music players over the last several years into one cohesive package.

Sony's music playing app for the Android Walkman. Sony Japan

For example, there is cover art view, library views, random channel modes and SensMe. Several new fancy animated visualizers are also accessible, and seem quite hypnotic. A Walkman button allows instant access to music control.

Shiny. Sony Japan

Z Series Walkman pricing and release dates outside of Japan are unknown for now, so be gentle on the following currency conversions, which never directly relate to the U.S. price. Still, with all these features and the Sony brand name, it's inevitable that the Android Walkman will cost a premium in the U.S.

The 16GB NW-Z1050 is around 28,000 yen ($363), the 32GB NW-Z1060 is about 33,000 yen ($428), and the 64GB NW-Z1070 is about 43,000 yen ($558). Check out some great real-life photos of the near-final prototype in CNET's gallery, or shots of the final version of the Android Walkman at AV Watch.

Is this a joy toy for audiophiles and entertainment junkies or unnecessary considering the current state of smartphones? Sony