Toshiba eyes March for delayed digital music player launch

Aiwa to ship MP3 machine in June

Toshiba is set to launch its Secure Digital (SD) memory card digital music player next month, three months ahead of Aiwa, whose own player will be based around the Multimedia Card (MMC) spec, a rival to both SD and Sony's Memory Stick technology. Toshiba's offering was originally believed to have been scheduled for a Christmas 1999 launch. Called the DiGo, device was planned to be Toshiba's first product to be sold exclusively via the Internet. It's not clear if the March launch marks a delayed attempt to get DiGo through the door or is the full-scale follow up to December's trial run. We suspect the former. DiGo's size and specification certainly match details and pics of the upcoming player posted on AsiaBizTech today. The DiGo was believed to have been priced at Y29,800 ($290), though today's AsiaBizTech report claims that neither the price nor the name of the device has been set. Downloaded songs are stored on an SD card, and encoded using a format called SolidAudio, developed by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) and others. SolidAudio essentially integrates the storage format with a compression scheme called TwinVQ and a copyright protection mechanism called InfoBind. The SD spec was developed by Toshiba, Matsushita and SanDisk. Aiwa's MM-FX500 MP3 player is due to go on sale in Japan on 1 June, to be followed later by US and European roll-outs. The player's key feature is a built-in MP3 encoder, allowing CDs to be 'ripped' to the MP3 format without the need for a PC, though presumably not as quickly since the output from the CD player is processed by the player in real time. Despite the use of MP3, Aiwa's machine does appear to be SDMI compliant. Tracks are held on Multimedia Cards (the player has two slots, and ships with a single 32MB MMC). Data is pegged to a specific card by the use of serial numbers, and tracks cannot be copied to other MMCs, even if they're copied via a PC, presumably. Aiwa said the MM-FX500 will retail for Y39,800 ($390). Related Stories NTT DoCoMo to offer digital music via cellphone Japanese trio unveil MP3-on-cellphone system Kenwood unveils first MP3 hi-fi system

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