Sony Kills ATRAC, Introduces Video Walkmans

Sony's Walkman entered a new era Thursday, as the company introduced two new models capable of playing not just audio, but also video. Sony also announced it would shutter its Connect music download service, effectively killing its ATRAC format in exchange for Windows Media.

The new high-end Walkman, Sony's NWZ-810 series, sports a 2-inch QVGA (320 by 240 pixels) LCD display, and offers up to 8 hours of battery life when playing video or 33 hours with audio. The slightly-cheaper NWZ-610 models come with a 1.8-inch screen and FM tuner.

The video Walkmans support AVC (H.264/AVC) Baseline Profile and MPEG-4 video codecs, JPEG for pictures, non-DRM AAC and MP3 music, as well as subscription downloads in Microsoft's protected WMA format. Sony says the players have passed PlaysForSure compatibility and work with Windows Vista.

Because of its deal with Microsoft -- the Walkman models will include Windows Media Player 11 -- Sony will close Connect early next year. In turn, the company says customers will have more flexibility in where they purchase their music. eBooks sold via Connect will not be affected, the company said.

Both the NWZ-810 and NWZ-610 come in capacities of 8GB, 4GB and 2GB. The NWZ-810 is priced at $230, $180 and $140, while the NWZ-610 is $20 cheaper at $210, $160 and $120. The players can be ordered now directly from Sony and will begin shipping next month.

Sony NWZ-815

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