Sony has done a dramatic U-turn will an announcement today that its digital music players will support and play MP3 format tracks and not just its own ATRAC3Plus format.

While Sony has supports MP3 through its Awia brand, this will be the first time Sony has offered MP3 support via the Sony brand name.

The dramatic U-turn will give the company a better standing against the compeititon, especially Apple's iPod and mean that future players like the NW-HD1 we reviewed earlier this month will become more accessible.

A Sony spokesperson said new devices which will play both Atrac and MP3s would be launched later in the year. It also plans to offer software to upgrade existing digital music players so they too can play MP3s.

Currently, Sony users have had to convert tracks into the Atrac format using desktop software, but the inclusion of MP3 support could spell out a drag and drop approach, again something which would be very welcomed.