Sony NWD-B100: Good riddance, SonicStage

Sony's new NWD-B100 is a tiny little MP3 Walkman that, for the first time ever, doesn't require SonicStage for music management. At around £50, it's an affordable little tyke too

Okay, okay, two Sony products in two days doesn't mean Crave's all loved-up with the Japanese Walkmanites, but considering how much we bash its media-manager software SonicStage, we felt compelled to mention that the company's ickle new MP3 player -- the NWD-B100 -- doesn't require it. About time, too.

The NWD-B100 is possibly the most respectable Sony Walkman product to see the light of day in 2007. Yeah, the NW-A808 is a superb piece of audio gadgetry, and the E series earned kudos points for including a system very similar to iTunes' Cover Flow on a tiny colour display. But the B100 not only kisses a hate-filled sayonara to SonicStage, it also rebukes Sony's ATRAC audio format to the extent of vanquishing support for it altogether.

While this may not be good news for devout Sony fans who naively claim SonicStage is the hound's knackers and that ATRAC is, for the most part, a lovely bit of codecular genius, your learned portable media guru knows somewhat better. The B100 plays just WMA and MP3 (no AAC, though), sports a fairly poor 12 hours of battery life, an FM radio, voice recorder, built-in equaliser and, as we mentioned, is managed through Windows using drag and drop.

The NWD-B100 comes in 1GB and 2GB, costing £45 and £55 respectively, and will be out in August for UK buyers. Go on Sony, release the NW-A808 with drag and drop -- we'd bearhug you right here and now. -Nate Lanxon