Intel expands device portfolio with MP3 player

InfoWorld |  Software

EXTENDING ITS PUSH into the consumer electronics market, Intel on Tuesday announced a portable digital music player that boasts 128MB of flash memory.

Weighing less than 4 ounces, the Intel Pocket Concert Audio Player can store up to four hours of music or more than 20 hours of speech, Intel said in a statement. Most MP3 players currently available offer 64MB of memory.

"This is an extension of a strategy we've had up and running for about a year and a half now. A strategy to expand the Intel brand into consumer products," said Gillian Murphy, spokeswoman for Intel in the United Kingdom. Besides playing MP3 files, the device also includes an FM receiver.

Intel said its StrataFlash memory -- built in to the device -- helps to conserve battery power, as it requires less power to operate than competing flash memory chips. The player will run for about 10 hours on two AAA batteries. StrataFlash also allows twice the memory support in less space, the company said.

The player, which can be connected to a Windows PC using a USB connector, is configured to handle the MP3 (MPEG Audio Layer-3) and Microsoft's WMA (Windows Media Audio) formats. Its firmware can be re-programmed to support future music formats, Intel said.

Intel will show its audio player this coming weekend at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The Pocket Concert Audio Player will be available only in the United States in February.

"At the moment, the audio player is only compatible with U.S. power and FM standards. We do intend to expand availability to outside the U.S.," Murphy said.

The audio player will be sold at most popular electronics stores and is priced at $300. An optional Intel Audio Accessory Kit that includes rechargeable batteries and a stereo dock and a car adapter to connect the device with the home and car stereos, respectively, will cost $60. A bundled package is priced at $350.

Intel already offers several products that complement the PC. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip giant offers home networking products, digital cameras, wireless keyboards, and a line of "PC-enhanced toys" dubbed Intel Play. "All these products extend the value of the PC," Murphy said.

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