MP3 Portable Deluge Coming Soon
Philips has announced an Internet music portable, to be brought to market at about $200 early next year. The Philips player will decode at least five different compressed-music formats, including MP3, Real Audio G2, Liquid Audio, a2b, and EMMS. Additional formats will be available as downloads.
Best Data Products has introduced the $239 Cabo portable MP3 player, available through retailers and websites. The Cabo has 64Mb of embedded memory and a slot for a 32Mb SmartMedia card, and runs for up to 10 hours on two AAA batteries. Music-management software for PCs, a microphone, "earbud" headphones, and memory storage for 250 phone numbers are included.
If RCA's Lyra player does well, parent company Thomson will develop its own CD/MP3 portable for the US market, to debut late in 2000. Probable features include the ability to decode and play back music from MP3 CDs and from a removable Type 1 or 2 CompactFlash card. Thomson also has shown prototype MP3-compatible shelf systems, including a 100-disc CD changer.
Early entries in the MP3 market will lack digital audio watermarking technology approved by the Secure Digital Music Initiative because of delays in arranging a licensing agreement with Aris Technologies, developer of the robust-but-supposedly-undetectable encryption technique. Buyers of RCA's Lyra player will be able to download the technology from the Internet at a later date, company officials stated, although it is not clear what advantage this would present to consumers.