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Sony Walkman Z: Android never sounded sweeter

Sony announces their Android-based Sony Walkman Z media player at CES 2012. CNET's Donald Bell offers his first-hand impressions on the new media player, along with photos and video.

Now playing: Watch this: First Look: Sony's answer to the iPod Touch

LAS VEGAS--Sony may be running out of letters, but they haven't run out of ideas.

Their latest creation, announced at CES 2012, is the Sony Walkman Z. You can think of it as Sony's answer to the Apple iPod Touch. The device runs Android 2.3 on a relatively spacious 4.3 inch touch screen, set at an 800x480 resolution.

Expected in the first half of 2012, the Walkman Z will come in just one color (black, with a purplish backing) and three capacities: 8GB ($249), 16GB ($279), and 32GB ($329).

The Walkman Z is a fully-licensed Google product, and brings with it the entire Android experience, including Android Market, Gmail, Maps, Books, and more. In addition to that, Sony adds their own services, such as Sony Music Unlimited (a subscription music service), and as you might expect, a heavily customized music player.

Taking a look at the music player on its own, Sony includes a way to quickly create playlists based around your mood (these are called SenseMe channels), as well as a number of mesmerizing audio visualizers. More importantly, though, Sony throws in every audio enhancement technology they have, short of including active noise-cancellation. You're treated to their S-Master MX digital amplifier technology, Clear Bass, DSEE high frequency restoration, VPT virtual surround, Clear Phase, and Clear Stereo. To really appreciate the nuances of these enhancements, Sony aslo throws in a pair of their 13.5mm EX-HP in-ear headphones. They will make your iPod earbuds quiver in shame.

A few other extras on the Walkman Z include an FM radio, Bluetooth audio, HDMI output, and DLNA streaming media support.

How does it stack up to the Apple iPod Touch? Check back next week for a full CNET review.