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No, don't worry - you haven't been transported back to the 1980s. I know it sometimes feels like it, but I assure you all of those famous presenters are on TV now for very different reasons. But yes - Sony have announced a new Walkman. Read on for details.

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Then new device, the NWZ-ZX1 doesn't take cassettes and won't make you the coolest kid on the playground (besides, shouldn't you be at work?), but it is a neat looking device. More akin to a smartphone than the tape players of yore, it runs Android and is being positioned as an elite device focused on high quality music.

Apparently it majors in playing back the highest possible fidelity recordings - it supports playback of 24bit/44.1kHz encoded files, which is the same quality the tracks are recorded at - and even better than CD quality. Crucially it supports a wide range of codecs: FLAC, WAV, Apple Lossless, PCM, AIFF - so should be able to play anything you throw at it. It also supports MP4 video and JPEG images for playing back video and photos.

Also on board is a 128GB hard disk, which Sony reckon can hold 800 of these super high quality songs and they also promise a "digital upscaler" that will improve the quality of regular lower quality MP3s (consider us skeptical on this latter feature).

Behind the scenes it runs Android 4.1 - better known as Jellybean, so it will also work with the myriad of Android apps over wifi - but of course, it isn't a phone so there's no 3G or 4G here. The interface looks very similar to Sony's smartphone range too, so if you've used an Xperia this will all be familiar to you. What is nice though is that along the side of the device there are hardware buttons to control playback - like your old Walkman - so you can play, pause and skip tracks without faffing about with the unlock screen.

Another bonus is the inclusion of NFC, that can speed up the pairing of the device to bluetooth speakers, because all you will have to do is tap.

Apparently it'll be available in the UK from February for £549.

Retro cassette style MP3 player from Mixpixie

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original_personalised-mp3-player.jpgThe jury it out on this one, It is a fairly basic MP3 player with a cheaper price to match, in the guise of a cassette.You can personalise the player too by adding your own text. It will house 200 songs and you bung them on the player via USB.

It can also come with 10 pre-loaded songs that you chose - which could make it quite a nice gift.

It comes with headphones and has a battery life of 3-4 hours.

Available here.

Spotted by Retro2Go

Five of the best - Waterproof MP3 Players

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Time for a dip, and if you want some musical accompaniment check out these waterproof players.

sonywalkmans.jpgDoes anyone still buy standalone MP3 players? Apparently so, because Sony is back with a pair of new Walkmans that it believes are perfect for the holiday season.

Design-wise the Walkman E580 MP3 (and the E-360 ofr that matter) resembles an old school iPod mini, but with a colour screen, an aluminium body and brighter colours.

The big story is that it will play music back for 77 hours from one charge. There's also 16 gigabytes worth of storage and you can watch video and see images on its two inch screen.

You can load tracks onto the player via either Windows Explorer or iTunes. Other features include Clear Phase.DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine), which restores those subtle high frequency details that get lost when you're listening to heavily-compressed digital music files. VPT (Virtualphones Technology) adds an extra dimension to your listening with the authentic ambience of a studio, club or arena. There's also an FM radio thrown in and compatibility with high level FLAC audio files.

The NWZ-E380 has a slightly smaller screen, half the storage at 8 Gigabytes and 33 hour battery life.

The Walkman NWZ-E380 video MP3 player from Sony is available in the UK from July in blue, red or black. The Walkman NWZ-E580 will be available in black from August. Now news yet on price.

Check our five of the best MP3 players to take swimming here.

amazon-autorip.pngI always thought that the best way to market music these days was to offer someone a CD and when they bought it give them an instant download of the tunes on it.

Well it appears that the team at Amazon have been listening for it has just announced the launch of Amazon AutoRip, a new service that gives customers free MP3 versions of CDs and vinyl music they purchase from Amazon, in the UK.

So when customers purchase AutoRip CDs and vinyl the MP3 versions are automatically added to their Cloud Player libraries where they are available, free of charge, for immediate playback or download.

It isn't just new labums though. Customers who have purchased AutoRip albums at any time since Amazon.co.uk first opened its Music Store in 1999 will find MP3 versions of those albums in their Cloud Player libraries - also automatically and for free.

It all depends though if the album is in the AutoRip category, as not all of them are. The company says it has 350,000 albums, including titles from every major record label, are available for AutoRip and that customer just need to look for the AutoRip logo. The AutoRip music is provided in high-quality 256 Kbps MP3 audio.

And while the service works for music Amazon has no plans to AutoRip for Kindle books or DVDs.

It has taken quite a while for the service to land in the UK. It went live in the US in January and is also available in Italy, France and Germany.

"What would you say if you bought CDs, vinyl or even cassettes from a company 14 years ago, and then 14 years later that company licensed the rights from the record companies to give you the MP3 versions of those albums... and then to top it off, did that for you automatically and for free?" said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO. "Well, starting today, it's available to all of our Amazon.co.uk customers - past, present, and future - at no cost. We love these opportunities to do something extra for our customers."

The company has also announced the top ten albums it has sold since 199 all of which are available for AutoRip


21
Adele
19
Adele
Progress
Take That
I Dreamed A Dream
Susan Boyle
Now That's What I Call Music! 83
Various artists
Only By The Night
Kings Of Leon
Back To Black (Bonus track)
Amy Winehouse
Sigh No More
Mumford & Sons
Now That's What I Call Music! 80
Various artists
Now That's What I Call Music! 77
Various artists


It might seem incredible but up until today you haven't been able to buy MP3s from Amazon to play on your iPhone. That has all changed with the announcement by Amazon that as from today its MP3 are compatible with iPhone and iPod touch devices.
The retailer says that its 25 million song catalogue is now accessible via the iPhone's Safari browser.

Music purchases are automatically saved to customers' Cloud Player libraries and can be downloaded or played instantly from any iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Kindle Fire, Android phone or tablet, or any web browser.

"Since the launch of the Amazon Cloud Player app for iPhone and iPod touch, a top request from customers has been the ability to buy music from Amazon right from their devices. For the first time ever, iOS users have a way do that - now they can access Amazon's huge catalogue of music, features like personalised recommendations, deals like albums for £3.99 and songs for 89p and they can buy their music once and use it everywhere,"
said Steve Boom, Vice President of Amazon Music.

Music for Shuffle #01 from Matt Brown on Vimeo.

Whether you are a shuffle user or not, there is no denying it has hugely effected the way we listen to music.

Albums are often written in a way so that one song flows into the next revealing the archetypes and various plot lines. However, if you listen to an album on shuffle there is the possibility that you will miss these things. Disconnecting the songs from each other and thus changing the experience.

Apparently Matthew Irvine Brown feels the same way as I do, and has just written an album specifically for playing on shuffle. This was done by ensuring that every track flows into all the other tracks, in any given order. Taking inspiration from "the past 20-odd years in genres like glitch and minimal techno," and ended up "sampling the skipping noises and using them as rhythmic and textural elements" to try and hide the noise the Shuffles make when a new track comes on. Very cool.


The album is available as a free download on his site.

Via Cult Of Mac

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What makes you likely to buy one portable music player over another? Is it the storage capacity? the battery life? How about if a popstar flashes it in a music video? Ha, we knew we had you there. If blonde British popstrel Pixie Lott does it for you, then you may be interested to know that she officially endorses the Samsung Tik Toc MP3 Player, it's like her Favourite New MP3 player 4EVA.

The shot above is a screengrab of her and the Tik Toc from her new video Broken Arrows out tomorrow. It's a budget end music device with a couple of nice features - such as a play mode that recognises the speed of the song and can play you either fast or slow music from your library and also a Tic Toc voice guide which enables the player to say the name of the artist and the song being played. Otherwise we're not thrilled by the 2/4mb memory, pretty small by any standards.

Set to cost approximately £50, it's in competition with the £39 2gb Shuffle.

Popstars endorsing random tech products is one of my favourite things. There was the hilarious Virgin Mobile plug in Lady Gaga's Telephone video that almost had me ditching O2.

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Generally speaking, I quite like Archos gadgets. Which is why I was particularly interested to test-drive the company's latest 3 cam vision mp4 player...

And, upon opening the box, it doesn't disappoint. It's got a very reasonable 3 inch touchscreen (400x240 pixels), but - at 62g - is surprisingly petite and lightweight. And with a single 'back' button outside the touchscreen itself, it's a very streamlined and stylish piece of kit. The screen did get smudgy quite quickly, but maybe that's just my grubby mitts.

Switch the mp4 player on and you arrive at the very straightforward and intuitive menu system. Greeted with Music, Video, Photo, Camera and FM Radio categories, it's extremely simple to find your way around. However, this is unfortunately where I came to my first niggle... The touchscreen might look great, but it wasn't nearly as responsive as I wanted it to be. Several buttons took more than a few fierce prods before getting me where I wanted to go.

When it comes to the all-important camera, compatibility with JPEG, BMP and GIF images gives you plenty of options. Photo quality is fine, but I found that - with the camera lens on the very right hand side of the device when you're taking a snap - some of my photos had stray fingers wandering in shot. Also, reviewing your photos once you've taken them isn't as comfortable as it could be - I had to move from the camera to the main menu, and then back into the Photos folder to see how they looked. Video recording and playback works well, with MPEG, WMV, FLV, AVI and RMVB files all good for this device. Tapping the screen reveals or hides the video controls, and the pleasingly sharp screen means your videos look colourful and clear.

Of course, the music and radio needs to be good - which it is. As you'd expect, it's easy to transfer files by copying / pasting in Windows Explorer, although you can use Windows Media Player to synchronise video, music and photos if you like. (For karaoke lovers, any .LRC (lyrics) files you upload will display song lyrics as you listen.) The headphones are a bit flimsy and the sound is fine, but the temperamental touchscreen caused me more problems when it came to volume control and skipping from one part of the track to another. The radio was great though, giving me a good clean sound while I pottered around the streets of London.

Overall, I love the streamlined look of the Archos 3 cam vision, and I like its sheer simplicity. And I almost wanted to love the gadget more. But it will take a smarter touchscreen to make me ditch the iPod.

The Archos 3 cam vision mp4 player is compatible with Windows, Mac OS X and Linux systems. Visit the Archos sitefor more info.

The world's smallest mp3 players

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In a recent survey of female Japanese tech consumers, they ranked the size of a gadget the most important thing they look for when buying a new gizmo.

Now, I'd never thought that Japanese girls and myself had that much in common -- and in many ways, that's still the case. However, I too love tiny gadgets.

The smaller the better really, I don't care if it's easier to lose or break, I don't care if I have to operate it with a pin -- I love miniscule hardware, especially little mp3 players. Now we've all got our day-to-day high capacity PMPs, whether it's an iPhone or Zune or whatever, but sometimes it's nice to have a back-up -- a neat little mp3 player that's lightweight and doesn't sit there sagging in your pocket like a jar of pickled onions.

They're ideal if you're going jogging or travelling, and with that in mind here are nine of the smallest, and where possible, where to buy them.

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OK, I admit it, I'm slightly infatuated with the Archos brand, as I've never found another PMP designer that has managed to combine everything a user might want into such a sleek shell. The latest Archos news to whet my appetite (and cause my bank manager sleepless nights ) is that of the Archos 9. Following on from the adored Archos 7 and Archos netbook announcement is the rather stylish looking Archos 9, which tried to be the best of both the PMP AND the netbook world.

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As a huge fan of PMP's I eagerly look at new releases, and wonder whether they'll live up to my rigorous standards. I expect a 7 inch screen, a heap of internal memory, oh and touchscreen capabilities and internal wireless is always a bonus.

Well step up to the platform, SmartQ7, and let's take a look inside.

sku_13762_1.jpgOk, are we just making gadgets for the sake of it now? My first impressions were, WTF is this? Following an actual reading of its specs as opposed to just trying to hazard a guess, it turns out it's an MP3 player with built-in speakers! *And* get this... it's supposed to be a dog! Other than having a fluffy head and four legs (which incidentally look more like a stand than actual legs) there is no indication that this thing is emulating a dog. In fact it doesn't look like anything... other than a fluffy head on a stand!

credit crad.jpgIt's a credit card... no wait; it's a super thin Bluetooth emitting MP3 player disguised as a credit card, numbers and all. Whether it's be wise to wear it around your neck like this headless model would be completely down to personal preference and how comfortable you are with constant stares of bewilderment from passers or relentlessly getting asked why you have a credit card around your neck (or being a target of thieves)! Like the majority of cool gadgets that grace the pages of Shiny Shiny, it's sadly just a concept - but what a great concept eh?

Other than that, there's little else information about this flat four sided player, other than that it's a great way to get mugged and have your personal items ripped from your neck.

[via Engadget]

More MP3 players here

samsung_cp3.jpgiPod owners are about to experience what it's like to feel envious of another portable media player. And it'll be Samsung's YP-CP3 PMP that'll be responsible for triggering that condition otherwise known as the green eyed monster. As well as being a great piece of multimedia eye candy, with a sizeable 400 x 240 3-inch touchscreen, it comes bundled with that crucial, all important SD card slot to expand its storage (and this is about the time when iPod owners should begin to feel those pangs of jealousy).

As well as MP3, WMV, MPEG4 and FLAC support, Samsung's PMP packs FM radio, a voice recorder and features an easy to use joystick which should provide a better navigational experience than the diamond shaped touch sensitive interface of the YP-Q1 and YP-Q2. To make it even more covetable, circulating rumours say there will be a camera on board too.

sony.JPGSony has finally realised that as long as this ominous recession cloud is looming, people are less likely to spend a substantial amount of their wages on music equipment, so it's decided to reduce the X series' un-pocket friendly prices to less un-pocket friendly prices. It's not a mammoth price drop, but it's still a price drop nonetheless. The 16GB model will now cost £200 (down from £214) and the 32GB model will now go for £250 (£283 before).

Amazon must have missed the memo though, as it's still offering the media player at those original and costly prices. There's more good news - it'll now be available from Play.com as of the 30th April with its new price drop, beating Amazon's 10th May release date (and price tags). If you want to find out more about what the X Series has to offer, check it out here.

[via Stuff]

More MP3 players here

philips-gogear-spark.jpgIt may be small but Philips' GoGear Spark sure packs a lot into its compact frame. Philips even describes it as "compact in size but big on style and sound quality". Sure, it's not as pretty as the members of the iPod family, but it puts up a good fight. On its pretty 1.46-inch OLED colour screen you'll be able to view album art and display pictures, it also comes with the ability to make voice recordings and play and record radio (depending on what model you get). As well as that, Philips has loaded its mini MP3 player with its proprietary FullSound audio refinement system, which aims to improve the quality of low-bitrate/ songs and prevent them from venturing down the tinny path.

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The Sony Walkman X series was without a doubt, one of the hotter gadgets to come out of CES this year. And now we hear it's up on Amazon UK for pre-order. Pre-ordering will get you your new personal media player within two to five weeks, which should give you just enough time to get over their un-pocket friendly prices. Available in 16 and 32GB offerings, the 16GB model (NWZ-X1050B) will set you back £214 and the 32GB version (NWZ-X1060B) £283.

crayola.jpgThere's me thinking Crayola only stuck to brightly coloured stationary and unnecessary amounts of crayons, and here it is with its very own MP3 player. There's no room for swank with this - it's about as basic (and childlike) as you can get. Forget luxuriously hi-tech gadgetry, this reaches out to your inner child and your love of the plain, the straightforward and the multicoloured technological device.

So, other than looking like it opens up to reveal a full set of crayons, the Crayola MP3 player comes with 2GB of storage, five jumbo-sized buttons and mass amounts of letter stickers so you can feel every bit the child, allowing you to regress back to a time when (much to the annoyance of your parents) stickers went on absolutely everything. Just slap an AAA battery in its behind and you're good to go.

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Anybody who reads Shiny will know how highly I rate Archos products, so the news that they may have a mobile lurking on the horizon is very exciting. And it's not just a PMP enabled mobile device, no it's going to utilise Google Android capabilities, potentially making the G1 seem redundant and outdated.

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