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Kenwood unveils first MP3 hi-fi system

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Japanese consumer electronics giant Kenwood this week demo'd the world's first hi-fi units with built-in support for Internet-sourced digital music tracks. Kenwood's offering, a mini component system, was shown at the Audio Expo 99, held in Tokyo. In addition to the usual CD player, radio and tape deck, the unit contains a modem and a 13GB hard drive. The unit's remote control features an 6.5in colour LCD panel to display Kenwood's music distribution Web site, allowing users to select tracks for download and, presumably, pay for them too. The remote control currently hooks up to the unit by a cable, but Kenwood said it plans to replace it with a Bluetooth-based unit in the future. The company also envisaged equipping the unit with a satellite reception link at some stage, to allow music tracks to be downloaded more quickly using a one-way high-speed link. The modem would be retained, said a spokesman, for access the Web site and selecting which tracks to download. Kenwood didn't specify what music formats the device supports, but presumably we're talking about SDMI-compliant MP3 and MS Audio here. The unit will ship with Sony MemoryStick and Matsushita Secure Digital (SD) Memory Card support to allow tracks to be copied over to portable devices. Kenwood plans to ship the unit at the end of 2000 or early 2001. ®

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