September 10, 2007 // 8:43 pm
- Screen-less mp3 player is all about motion control. Will this innovation win Sony a place beside Apple in the mp3 hardware market?
Last month the rumor got around that Sony was prepping another attempt at regaining some market share in the mp3 player market. According to the early leaks the device would use physical movement as its interface and would be shaped like an egg.
Today Sony gave the world the first clear look at the device, which, as the early leaks suggested, is named the 'Rolly.' It is indeed egg shaped, and in relation to the hands in the various pictures, is quite a bit larger than we would have guessed.
The Rolly is equipped with motion sensing capabilities that allow various aspects of its music playback to be controlled by physically moving the device. Volume can be adjusted by turning the Rolly clockwise or counter-clockwise while holding it in hand. Track selection can be accomplished by rolling it back and forth on a surface, and shuffle mode is adopted by shaking the Rolly. Because the device has no screen of any sort, its status and activity will be denoted by the changing colors of the two lighted rings.
At each end of its egg-like body the Rolly sports a 20-mm, 1.2-Watt neodymium magnet driven speaker. Each driver is capped by a protector that flips out when the speakers are in use and can apparently rotate to better project sound in a particular direction. From what we can make of the machine translation of a Japanese product page, the Rolly doesn't have a headphone jack and instead makes use of Bluetooth for sending tunes to headphones.
Just 1-GB of storage space is packed into the Rolly, which is disappointingly low. It is, however, apparently capable of streaming, via Bluetooth, a music collection stored on a PC. Supported music formats will include ATRAC, MP3, and AAC. Battery life is rated at 5-hours, or 4 when Bluetooth and motion sensing are at work.
Sony will include "Motion Editor" software that will allow owners to program particular gestures into the Rolly, apparently to set customized commands or the moves to user-created dances. Though we're unclear on exactly how the Rolly will encourage users to follow particular dance moves, it seems as though choreographed Rolly dances will be sharable among users and this capability marketed as the Rolly's primary feature.
Sony will sell the Rolly in Japan beginning on September 29 for 39,800-Yen, which converts to about $350-US. No official word has been delivered as to when a release in other territories will occur. Peep the Japanese product page here.