Sony has announced nine new flash-based MP3 players to compete with Apple’s iPod shuffle. “The lineup includes a set of cigarette lighter-sized models, a bit more expensive than the iPod Shuffle but with a much longer advertised battery life–50 hours of playback time with a rechargeable battery compared to Apple’s 12 hours. And unlike the Shuffle, the Sony players have bright, 3-line screens to display song information. A 512MB model costs $130 and a 1GB model costs $180. Models with an FM tuner each cost $20 more. A second set of players, set to ship later this month, are roundish, with a diameter slightly larger than a poker chip. They run on AAA batteries, which Sony says will give the user 70 hours of playback time on a single battery. The prices range from $90 for 256 MB of memory to $150 for 1 GB of memory.”