LAS VEGAS, Jan. 6, 2001 — Today at CES 2001, leading consumer electronics companies announced support for Microsoft® Windows Media™
Technologies in 11 new digital music products, bringing to more than 60 the number of consumer electronics devices that support the Windows Media Format. The new products, many of which are being launched at this year’s CES, range from portable audio players and CD players to devices that link home stereo systems to digital music libraries and playlists stored on personal computers. With their support of Windows Media, these devices offer music fans industry-leading sound quality, nearly three times the music storage and playing time of MP3, and seamless music transfer and management with Windows Media Player 7. Content providers can encode their music in the Windows Media Audio format, using the optional built-in digital rights management, and be assured that consumers can listen to it at high quality on virtually any device.
All the devices announced today support playback of content encoded both in Windows Media Audio 7 and in the recently released Windows Media Audio 8 beta format. The release of Windows Media Audio 8 beta in December 2000 marked a breakthrough for music fans. For the first time, near-CD-quality audio can be delivered in files as small as 48 Kbps, just over one-third the 128 Kbps requirement of MP3, and CD-quality sound can be delivered in files as small as 64 Kbps. This efficiency dramatically shortens the time it takes to download music and greatly increases the amount of high-quality music that can be stored on a PC or portable device compared with MP3.
“Windows Media is all about giving consumers easy access to their music wherever they want to hear it, throughout the home or anywhere on the go,”
said Dave Fester, general manager of marketing for the Digital Media Division at Microsoft Corp.
“This groundswell of adoption in such a wide range of new devices will bring the benefits of Windows Media home to millions more people — high-quality sound and the most playing time.”
New Portable Audio Players — Music on the Go
Companies announcing support for Windows Media technologies in their new portable audio players include e.Digital Corp.; Frontier Labs; Intel Corp.; Rio, a Sonicblue company; SongPro.com; and THOMSON multimedia.
E.Digital is scheduled to demonstrate two new portable audio device designs with Windows Media support: the Merit MP2000 Digital Music Player and the TREO Portable Digital Music Jukebox. The MP2000, which comes with or without an FM radio tuner, is being marketed in Korea by Maycom Company Ltd. The Treo stores 6.4 GB of music — or almost 300 hours of Windows Media Audio 8 — at a near-CD-quality bit rate of 48 Kbps and is scheduled to be available in the United States this year for an estimated retail price of under $400 from Hy-Tek Manufacturing Co.
Frontier Labs today announced the NEX II, a next-generation personal digital audio device that offers firmware upgradability and a range of memory configurations, from 32 MB to more than 300 MB. NEX II is available at an estimated retail price of between $109 and $319, depending on memory configuration.
Intel this week unveiled the Intel Pocket Concert Audio Player, the latest example in the company’s efforts to extend the value of the home PC and the Internet by creating a broad range of exciting new products. The portable digital audio player is equipped with 128 MB of memory for storing multiple digital audio formats, including Windows Media Audio, and provides up to four hours of music programming. The device also includes an FM radio tuner and a Universal Serial Bus (USB) connection port for linking to a PC. The Intel Pocket Concert Audio Player will be available in stores in February for about $300.
Rio recently announced it has shipped the Rio 800, designed for business travelers and those who want a high-end portable digital audio experience. The latest in the family of Rio portable players, the Rio 800 includes a rechargeable battery, optional FM tuner, voice recorder and 64 MB of built-in memory for an estimated retail price of $279.
SongPro.com announced that the SongPro for GameBoy, a plug-in module that turns pocket GameBoy entertainment systems into powerful multimedia and digital music players, is scheduled to be available this winter for an estimated retail price of $119 and will support Windows Media. SongPro also has developed the SongPro Petite, a tiny portable music device with two slots for multimedia cards that is scheduled to be available later this year for an estimated retail price of $99.
THOMSON multimedia, maker of RCA entertainment products, demonstrated its new Lyra 2 with support for Windows Media, which includes an FM digital tuner and is scheduled to be available in stores this month. In his CES keynote speech today, Bill Gates will demonstrate the use of removable Compact Flash storage cards in the Lyra 2. The Lyra 2 will retail for an estimated price of $299.
Other New Windows Media-Capable Devices
Another way to take digital music on the go is with CD players that play back both standard music CDs and CDs containing Windows Media Format or MP3 digital music files. With Windows Media format digital music files, a single CD can hold more than 22 hours of CD-quality music, twice the playing time possible with MP3. Rio announced the Rio Volt, a portable CD player that plays Windows Media Audio and MP3. The Volt is shipping now and will be available for an estimated retail price of $199.
In his keynote speech today, Gates will demonstrate the Rio Digital Audio Receiver. The Rio Digital Audio Receiver uses phone lines to stream digital music beyond the home computer to any room the receiver is located in — without interrupting Internet access, PC usability or standard telephone service.
In addition, Nakamichi Corp. today announced the availability of the Nakamichi SoundSpace 2, a portable and versatile stereo music system that includes an AM/FM stereo radio that works around the globe, an alarm clock, a dictation machine and a dockable Windows Media and MP3 player and recorder.
About Windows Media
Windows Media is the leading digital media platform, providing unmatched audio and video quality to consumers, content providers, solution providers, software developers and corporations. Windows Media offers the industry’s only integrated rights-management solution and the most scalable and reliable streaming technology tested by independent labs. Windows Media Technologies includes Windows Media Player for consumers, Windows Media Services for servers, Windows Media Tools for content creation, and the Windows Media Software Development Kit (SDK) for software developers. Windows Media Player, available in 26 languages, is the fastest-growing media player. More information about Windows Media can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmedia/ .
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.
Microsoft and Windows Media are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
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