An earful of music from Sony

Sony Corp.'s latest digital music player promises to give users an earful of their favorite songs. The NW-E8P, which will be available in Japan from April 21, looks something like a hearing aid on steroids -- but with a lot more style.

Designed to clip around the ear, the latest addition to its Network Walkman range of players is based on Sony's ATRAC3 (Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding) compression system. With the built-in 64M bytes of memory, users will find enough space for 80 minutes of music in 105k bps (bits per second) standard mode, 60 minutes in high-quality 132k bps or 120 minutes in 66k bps low quality mode, said Sony.

Support for the MagicGate copy protection system is built into both the player and companion desktop software and it won't support MP3 or any other digital music format which means audio has to be transferred to ATRAC3 before it can be loaded and played.

The headphones each weigh 45 grams, which means they aren't so heavy that they will fall off your ears, and connect to a personal computer via USB (Universal Serial Bus) cable. Four alkaline batteries provide enough power for 7 hours of use.

Sony expects the headphones to retail for around 40,000 yen (US$320).

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