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Archos preps Linux, Wi-Fi enabled portable media player

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CES 2005 Archos further loosened the ties between portable media players and PC hosts today with the launch of its first Wi-Fi enabled device.

The Pocket Media Assistant PMA400 also marks the French electronics company's move to Linux as the foundation for future personal media players.

The PMA400 stores movies, music and photos on a Hitachi 30GB hard drive. Video can be grabbed straight from a TV, DVD player or VCR, either there and then or at a future time using the player's built-in timer. It also features an integrated USB 2.0 host, allowing it to pull pictures and other content over any USB Mass Storage device. There's an integrated microphone too.

Further content can be downloaded from the Internet. The PMA400 includes an 802.11b adaptor for online access, and there's an infrared port to connect the device to a mobile phone. Archos will bundle the Opera browser and an email application for POP and IMAP messaging. The company said it would offer a USB-based Ethernet adaptor for fixed line Internet connections.

And just to blur the boundary between the media player and the PDA even further, Archos said it will bundle Qtopia personal information manager software to sync up Outlook contacts and diary databases with the PMA400.

Oh, and it will play games, too, using Qtopia's own games engine and the Mophun system.

Leveraging the Linux core, Archos hopes to attract third-party application developers to the PMA400. To that end, it said it will offer a software development kit (SDK) for the device in due course. However, it did not say when the SDK would ship, instead promising more information when the device itself arrives.

Archos said the PMA400 - originally to ship as the AV500 series, succeeding the company's current AV400 portable media player line-up - will ship late this month, in Europe and the US. Prices start at €800 and $800, respectively. ®

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