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MP3 Players at CES 2005


iRiver H10

iRiver H10

Sony – a name well known in the consumer electronics world. At CES 2005 they announced the forthcoming arrival of their NW-HD3 model with an estimated price of $350. Sony previously has been hampered somewhat by their sticking to digital audio players which only provide native support their ATRAC3 format. This sound type, while superior to MP3, has not caught on much. Sony hopes to change their market share by introducing players, like the NW-HD3, which offer native support for MP3 as well.

The NW-HD3 20 GB model will come in five different colors and has quite a sophisticated, urban look. It will support USB 2.0 high speed file transfers, offers shock protection and skip free technology and has a large toggle navigation button on the front of the player which will navigate functions on the seven line backlit LCD. The LCD’s light, incidentally, will coordinate with the body color of the player.

Sony also mentioned the NW-HD3 will get an estimated 30 hours of playback time between charges of its internal battery.

Lexar, a maker of flash memory cards like Sandisk, used CES 2005 to show off some new models in their flash memory player line. The LDP-800 (256 MB version: $159, 512 MB version: $199) and LDP-200 (0 GB: $39.99, 256 MB: $89.99, 512 MB: $109.99 and 1 GB: $149.99) will be available in March and February respectively.

The LDP-800 flash model will, among other features, provide virtual surround sound and support OGG, WMA and MP3 music files. It will also provide both line out and line in capabilities for music playback and recording, broadcast over a built in FM transmitter and provide the ability for memory expansion through an internal SD card slot.

Lexar’s economic focused LDP-200, by contrast, will offer no internal memory what so ever. Music will need to be stored on a SD card (three options of the LDP-200 will include cards in the packaging) and inserted into the player’s dedicated card slot to be heard.

Rio is another one of those names, like Creative, which has been a player in the MP3 player market for years. Their latest offering, the ce2100, promises to keep things interesting and allow Rio to remain as one of the leading companies.

The ce2100, expected to ship in the first quarter of this year with a price tag of $199, will offer up a 2.5 GB hard drive which can play MP3 and WMA files. The player’s body will sport an ultra slim, tapered design and be capable of playing for up to 20 hours.

Rio also announced at CES they would be adding a pearl color to their highly popular Rio Carbon 5 GB player.

Is it possible digital audio player company iRiver might ever find themselves up the river? With announcements of new cutting edge players like the H10, it is highly unlikely.

The H10, when it hits stores this month for $279, will unveil itself as a cool looking 5 GB player in four colors. Besides supporting MP3 and WMA music files, the H10 will double as a photo viewer capable of showing off JPEG images on its color screen. iRiver’s newest entry will have plenty of playtime, being capable of going for up to 12 hours between charges.

Other noteworthy things about the H10 include the rechargeable battery being removable and replaceable, virtual surround sound support, an integrated voice recorder and integrated FM tuner/recorder.

RCA’s Lyra line of digital audio players was given a boost this year at CES. Three new models, including one with photo viewing capabilities, are set to be on sale soon.

The Lyra Micro Jukebox RD2765 (April release date for $269) sports a 5 GB hard drive and 1.5” color screen which allows for the viewing of JPEG images and CD cover art. The player is fairly compact, being not much bigger than two packs of gum, and can store and play MP3 and WMA music files. It uses a jog wheel for navigation and selection.

In the realm of straight digital audio players, RCA’s newest entries are the RD2212 (April for $129) and RD2312 (May for $129). Both 256 MB flash memory players are geared towards the more active crowd. The former sports a number of useful features for athletes, including stopwatch, calorie counter and heart rate monitor, in its splash proof body.

The RD2312, meanwhile, has a “high tech form factor” and is designed to fit specifically into the palm of your hand. It sports an amber colored backlight, dual orientation LCD display which inverts when the player is turned upside down and an estimated 20 hour battery life.

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