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Sony Corp. devices will be switching over to Windows Media-compatible technology in conjunction with the release of three Walkman mobile players, two of which will play video, the company said Thursday.
Sony will begin to phase out its Connect Music Services, which used the proprietary ATRAC format, closing it completely by March.
The new Walkman devices will be available in September, and the video versions will cost $120-$230. These are the first Walkman devices that will be able to support video.
The Walkman video players will support any Windows Media-compatible content, which encompasses much of the video content found on the Internet, including YouTube clips and the popular MPEG-4 format. Sony Pictures Entertainment also will provide content for the devices, including clips from SPE movies, at www.sonystyle.com/walkman.
The devices also will support Windows Media Audio including songs downloaded through the Napster service. The players will also be compatible with music downloaded through Wal-Mart’s digital music store as well as nonsecure AAC and MP3 files.
In addition, the new players will come installed with Windows Media Player 11.
Content acquired through the Connect Music Services and the ATRAC technology will still be able to be played on old Sony devices but not on the new Walkman devices. The company, however, will offer free conversion software to transfer the ATRAC content to MP3 format.
Sony will stop adding music to Connect at some point and officially shutter the service in March.
These moves come as no surprise as the ATRAC technology and Connect failed to catch on with consumers. It had been rumored that Sony was about to close the service since June when the company laid off 20 people in the division and moved the rest of the staff to the PlayStation group.
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