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Sony adds digital noise-cancelling to entry-level Walkman

We take a closer look at a new budget-friendly Sony Walkman announced today in Japan.

The new E-series Walkman features a familiar button arrangement and slightly tweaked UI. Sony

This year, Sony's refresh of its entry-level E-Series Walkman line is much different from previous generations.

The new NW-E060 series--due in Japan on February 11--will only come in 2GB (NW-E062) and 4GB (NW-E063) options, which is far less capacity than its predecessor (which went up to 16GB). What is truly noteworthy is the inclusion of digital noise-cancelling, which is a feature previously only available in its high-end Walkman audio players. Music playback with this option enabled is rather amazing, as it nearly removes disruptive ambient noise in its entirety.

Battery life is a healthy 30 hours for MP3 playback (24 hours with noise cancelling on), but that figure is 20 hours less than the previous model. Similarly, the screen is only a 1.4-inch LCD, once again a downgrade from the 2.0-inch screen used in the past. I am wondering if the cost of integrating digital noise-cancelling contributed to these cuts. On the other hand, maybe the gurus at Sony finally realized they were selling several MP3 players that were too similar and wanted to differentiate.

The new E-series gains a hot new feature, but also loses a lot. Sony

Japan will get black, blue, pink, and red shades to choose from, but color availability will vary across regions. The tiny device measures at 3-inches long and a width of 1.3-inches, while the edges are rounded and somewhat remind me of Sony's ancient NW-HD1 music player.

Other notable features are a FM radio, and the usual sound coloring options such as a 5-band equalizer, Clear Bass, Clear Stereo, and Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE). An above-average set of earbuds (MDR-NC33) is included with the NW-E060 series. The music player supports drag and drop file transfer of music encoded in MP3, WMA, ATRAC (only in Japan), PCM, and AAC (HC) formats.

Sony Japan also announced small color-matching speaker docks package labeled as the NW-E060K series, but often these keen setups never make it stateside.

Check out hands-on pictures and Japanese pricing information about this new Walkman at AV Watch. We expect pricing to be around $100 (or less) when it arrives on U.S. retail shelves.