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Sony Android Walkman prototype pictured

If you thought Sony had given up competing with the iPod, you thought wrong. Its latest weapon may just prove enough to unsettle Apple...

You may have noticed a dearth of MP3 players being released over the last couple of years. You may also have noticed sales of iPods soaring. This is no coincidence. So you'd think you'd have to be wrong in the head to try and compete with Apple in the music player stakes, right? Well maybe not. Sony is bringing back its Walkman brand, and it's packing a secret weapon that might just expose the chink in Apple's armour: Android.

By employing the open-source software, Sony's new Walkman can run the thousands of apps from Android market, mounting an effective challenge to the iPod touch with its App Store, not to mention all the games available.

Unlike the iPod touch, this Walkman doesn't have a camera. The Walkman Mobile Entertainment Player, as it's currently known, is just a prototype at the moment, but could well see production.

"After reviewing the customers' acceptance, we'll decide how to expand this kind of product," Toshimichi Nagashima, general manager of digital music player product planning told our US cousins at CNET News. "We have some confidence for this product. We may expand this kind of product in the future after getting some feedback," he added.

So what does it have others don't? A button on the side controls the music buttons even if the device is locked. A music app lets you pick songs based on moods such as emotional, relaxed or extreme (the mind boggles).

S-Master MX tech promises to reduce noise, clarify bass and restore high quality sound lost during compression. It'll also connect to Music Unlimited, Sony's cloud-based music service with over 10 million tracks, as well as show graphic visualisations to accompany the music. Extreme, here we come.

That screen is a 4.3-incher, larger than the Touch's 3.5, with a 640x800-pixel resolution (not as sharp as the Touch's 640x960 pixels). Sony wouldn't reveal which chip was inside, though it did say it'll have DLNA for streaming tunes to your TV or wireless speakers.

So, iPod touch be damned? Or is Android not enough to bring the Walkman back? Let us know your thoughts via Facebook, or the comments section below.