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UK company launches portable MP3 player

MP3-GO aimed at hi-fi market rather than PC users

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UK-based Memory Corporation has unveiled MP3-GO, the latest portable digital music player to challenge Diamond Multimedia's Rio PMP300 for the solid state music hardware market. MP3-GO SoulMateMP3-GO is a combined CD ripper and music storage system with separate portable player, called SoulMate, and Internet access device, Audio Port. Essentially, the system replaces PC, modem and Rio with its own three units. The base unit, dubbed the Portable Music Store (PMS), can encode and store up to 100 CDs. The mini-Walkman sized SoulMate connects to the PMS and downloads up to an hour's music in its Flash memory. To help fill the PMS' music repository -- if you don't have 100 CDs to copy -- MP3 audio tracks can be downloaded through the Internet Audio Port (a modem by any other name). Tracks will have to be downloaded from Memory Corporation's MP3-GO site, though the company clearly hopes better-known MP3 providers will support the new system. MP3-GO PMSMP3-GO contains copyright protection to ensure a track on the PMS can't be copied to a different unit's SoulMate. However, it's not clear whether the device will prevent users downloading unauthorised MP3 files from the Internet. It could also be argued that any system that allows CDs to be duplicated promotes illegal copying, but since such claims have failed to kill hi-fi tape decks, the MP3-GO is safe on this score. Memory Corporation is currently seeking licensees to rebadge the MP3-GO system and bring it to market. The company clearly realises its limitations in the mainstream audio business. However, it will need backers if it's to get in ahead of the key Japanese and European hi-fi players, most of whom are waiting for the format war to come to some kind of workable conclusion, probably through the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), which is due to announce a draft specification this summer. Memory Corporation is itself an SMDI member, but feels, like Creative Technologies, which announced its own MP3 player a couple of weeks ago, that it can't afford to wait for the SDMI's work to be concluded. ®

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