Sony is set to launch an MP3 player capable of playing video. Sony came to prominence in the 80s with the first portable music player, the Walkman, and is wisely capitalising on the fact that this is such a recognisable brand in its attempt to smash and grab market share from iPod maker Apple.

Sony says its portable media players will be known as Walkman Video MP3 players. The first such device will be the NW-A800 range, with capacities from 2GB to 8GB. Set for launch in April, they will be less than an inch thick and have a 2in colour LCD. Sony says users will be able to drag-and-drop Mpeg4 video content on to the Walkman for immediate playback. Music and video can also be acquired via Sony’s Connect online store.

As well as playing video, the NW-A800 players will display Jpeg photos. The player will have a music playback time of up to 30 hours and Sony claims its batteries will last for up to eight hours of video viewing.

Several manufacturers already sell MP3 players that are capable of showing video, but Sony is easily the best-known company to launch such a device in direct competition to Apple's video iPod. Even Microsoft, the world's most successful software company, which launched its own-brand Zune music and video player in the US late last year, has been unable to make any inroads on the dominance of the iPod.