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Sony tries the Walkman again (yawn)

The former kind of portable music tries to hang on

It's kind of pathetic, when you think about it. Here's the Sony Walkman, once the king of all portable music players, now left scrambling for crumbs left in the iPod's wake.

The latest innovation is a line of new miniature Walkman players that come with noise-canceling technology embedded in both the music player itself and its headphones. It's not that this is a bad idea; it's just not exactly the kind of killer product that can get Sony back in the game.

The NW-S705F, a 2GB version that stores about 1,350 songs, comes in black and will retail for $199. The 1GB NW-S703F, for $169, stores about 685 songs, and comes in violet and pink. (Because girly girls, apparently, need less storage than the rest of us?)

The players support MP3 and Sony's ATRAC files (not to be confused with 8-tracks), as well as non-DRM WMA and AAC files. Unlike Microsoft, when it announced this compatibility in the Zune, Sony spells out directly what this means.

"Perfect for a customer who has a large collection of audio on their PC which was ripped from personal CDs. This allows for transfer of audio downloads, imports and self-recorded tracks, but only works on files that are not protected by DRM (Digital Rights Management)," Sony said on its Web site.

So, if you ripped your old CDs using iTunes software, you most likely will be able to import those AAC files into this new line of Sony Walkman players. The device can also record analogue audio without a PC by plugging it directly into the source with a cable.

Both players have a built-in FM tuner and favorite station presets, and a built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery that can play for three hours after a three-minute charge, or for 50 hours after a two-hour charge.

The new Walkman players will be available this November at Sony Style retail stores and the Sony Style online store, with preorders available online today.

The players are on display at the DigitalLife event this week in New York City.

A note for the trivia buffs out there: The original Sony Walkman TPS-L2 "personal stereo" came out in 1979 and played cassette tapes.