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Virgin unveils 5GB mini music player

'Plays for Sure' DRM-compatible

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Virgin will ship an own-brand 5GB HDD-based mini digital music player later this month.

Virgin 5GB PlayerThe device, the Virgin Player, comes from the group's US-based Virgin Electronics subsidiary. The unit plays MP3 and WMA files, and includes support for Windows Media 10's 'Janus' DRM technology, branded 'Plays for Sure', by Microsoft. That means not just Virgin's own Virgin Digital service, but Napster and MSN Music.

In addition to digital audio playback, the VP sports an FM radio, and uniquely, we think, it has two earphone sockets, to allow users to "share" their music. But don't tell the RIAA, OK?

The VP weighs 87.9g and measures 9.5 x 5.5 x 1.5cm, so it's roughly the same size as the iPod Mini, Creative Zen Micro and others. The display is a 96 x 80 blue-backlit unit. According to Virgin, the player contains 32MB of RAM for 25 minutes' anti-skip protections

Interestingly, the VP is based on PortalPlayer's 5020 system-on-a-chip. PortalPlayer is, of course, Apple's iPod chip partner. The 5020 is based on dual ARM7 cores. The hard drive, by the way, is Seagate's new 1in unit, which is also believed to provide the Zen Micro's storage.

The VP is due to ship in the US in a couple of weeks' time, Virgin said, priced at $250. ®

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