I've been begging Sony to make better use of the Walkman brand, and while I'm not sure this new Android-based PMP is exactly everything I've been hoping for, at least Sony is trying to bring a bit of a premium sheen back to the brand. Sony is showing off a "prototype" of what an Android-based Walkman music and video player may look like in the not-too-distant future. The device has a 4.3-inch screen, and runs Android 2.3 with some half-assed Sony skinning on top. To be honest, the hardware feels great, so I'm guessing Sony's more in the "prototype" phase with the software, which seems about par for the course for its Android efforts.

The one big idea, outside of the typical big screen, HDMI output, and fancy audio processing, is an odd-shaped Walkman button on the side of the device. When pressed, it brings up a large target area on the screen for inputing swipes to control playback. The idea seems to be that you press the Walkman button and then you can no-look navigate through your tracks. I didn't close my eyes and try, but I think it should be pretty effective -- it's a lot more fun than the odd double and triple click skip controls on the iPod / iPhone family.

Still, PMPs don't live by fancy swipe areas alone, and these days it's not much of a category outside of the annual iPod touch refresh. I hope Sony can make a splash, but it's going to need a huge software push to make this thing truly interesting. Check out a gallery of hands-on photos after the break.