Early this morning, Sony announced its latest digital audio player, the NW-S700, and dubbed it the best-sounding Walkman yet. This is apparently thanks to the device's built-in noise-canceling technology. Noise-canceling headphones are nothing new, but a noise-canceling MP3 player is not something I've had the chance to meet...and I thought I might not still: most reports cite only the Japanese release of the NW-S700. However, the press release I received clearly lists U.S. pricing ($169 for the 1GB version, $199 for 2GB) and availability (November).
The player looks like the love child of the NW-E000 and the NW-E500: It has the thumbdrive look (though not the built-in USB interface) of the former and the multifunctional control knob of the latter. It also comes in an three shimmery colors: violet and pink for the 1GB version, and black for the 2GB. And I'm happy to report that the special-edition brown model appears to be a Japan-only release. (What is it with brown gadgets lately? Ick--not for me, thanks.) I'm also pleased to note that Sony is straying from its monochrome displays in favor of a full-color OLED display that supports album art, though from the looks of it, the teeny tiny square isn't much to look at. But hey, at least it's something. The NW-S700 will also feature a built-in FM tuner for radio fans, and it boasts a marathon-esque 50-hour rated battery life. I can dream that a SonicStage update is in the works for this release, but I doubt that's very likely.
As for the sound quality, Sony's general manager for personal audio Koba Kobayashi "is confident that even audiophiles will be pleased with this Walkman digital music player." Well, I don't know about that. Noise-canceling technology by nature processes the sound even more than it has been already, and audiophiles already have gripes with digital music. But it's a forward-thinking feature, and I appreciate Sony's putting it out there--we don't see many new MP3 features nowadays.