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Dell to hop on MP3 bandwagon

Licenses S3's Rio player technology

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Dell will beat arch-rival Compaq to the MP3 music market when it launches the Dell Digital Audio Receiver (DAR) this week, based on the Rio player from S3, formerly known as Diamond Multimedia.

Essentially, we're talking a standard portable player here, but the DAR appears to differ from the Rio in that it also supports playback through home entertainment kit - the device become a kind of medium between PC and hi-fi. Dell's plan seems to be to promote the wired home, though we can't help thinking that simply connecting PC to amplifier directly or via a home LAN might be a better way of doing so.

For Dell, the DAR is primarily about adding new features to a home PC - buy a DAR with a home networking-oriented PC and it will cost $199. Buy it on its own, and the MP3 machine will set you back $249.

For its part, S3 gets another big name supporter for its MP3 technology - the other is Nike, according to CNet - as it strives to sign up brand name companies to co-market its products.

The DAR should also provide a boost for S3's RioPort digital music portal, which the company hopes will become as much of a money-spinner as the hardware itself. Dell said it plans to create a portal for DAR users, but we suspect it too will come from S3 via RioPort, simply because S3 has the expertise and content already in place.

The DAR is due to ship this August, ahead of Compaq's MP3 player, hinted at by Big Q CEO Michael Capellas earlier this month. ®

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