Sony Corp. has given its hard-disk drive-based Network Walkman some design tweaks and a lower price for a new model that will go on sale in October, the company said Wednesday.Â
There are four main differences between the NW-HD2 and its predecessor, the NW-HD1, although none of them are substantial.Â
A glance at the new players will reveal the most obvious, which is the range of colors in which they are now available. The original was offered in silver or black, while the new model will be available in silver, blue or pink, said Hanae Kato, a spokeswoman for Sony Marketing of Japan.Â
Sony’s switch to blue and pink follows a local market preference. Apple Computer Inc. has seen the silver and blue versions of its iPod Mini player become the most popular of the five colors it offers in Japan, and the pink and green versions are popular among young women, said Michiko Nakatani, a spokeswoman for Apple’s Japanese unit.Â
Sony also changed the backlight color used in the 1.5-inch LCD (liquid crystal display) of its NW-HD2, from green to blue, Kato said.
Away from the visual design, the biggest technical change is the ability to charge the player from the power cord by using a small interface adapter. Users had to place the first model in a cradle to charge it, which meant an extra item to pack when taking a trip away from home. The in-line remote control is also gone from the headphone cord on new version, Kato said.
Like the original, the new player features a 20GB hard-disk drive and is compatible with Sony’s ATRAC3 compression format. Software is included to convert songs from a number of other formats, including MP3.Â
The most welcome news for buyers might be the new price. The NW-HD2 will be available in Japan from Oct. 10 for about ¥40,000 (US$360). When the original version went on sale in July it cost ¥53,000. The lower price brings it a little closer to Apple’s 20GB iPod, which sells for ¥33,400 in Japan.Â
There are no current plans to put the NW-HD2 on sale overseas, Kato said.