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Matsushita readies iTunes-friendly music player

AAC audio supported

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Japan's Matsushita has introduced an iTunes-compatible digital music player with an expandable storage capacity provided by SD cards to its D-Snap line of devices.

Matsushita SD-SV100V (top) and SV-MP730V (bottom)We say 'iTunes-compatible' but don't assume Apple has licensed the FairPlay DRM technology it uses to protect iTunes Music Store songs from duplication. Matsushita's SV-SD100V (right, top) and SV-SD90 both support AAC, the iTunes jukebox software's preferred format, so the players will be of interest to folk who've ripped CDs to AAC using iTunes but are seeking an alternative player to Apple's iPod. The players also support MP3 and DRM-less Windows Media files.

The players are compact 4.3 x 4.3 x 1.7cm units with integrated OLED displays. There's a built-in Nickel Hydrogen power source capable of providing up to 14.5 hours' playback time, Matsushita claimed. The battery can be recharged using the bundled mains adaptor or through the player's USB 2.0 connection.

The two models differ slightly: the SV100V has a voice-recording facility and an FM tuner, both missing from the SV90. The higher-end model also comes with a AAA battery pack that allows the player to be driven using standard alkaline batteries - which yields 50 hours' playback time, the company said.

What capacity each player has is up to the buyer. Neither ships with an SD card, apparently.

Matsushita also introduced a pair of Flash-based players, the 1GB SV-MP730V (right, bottom)and the 512MB SV-MP270V. The odd-looking 7 x 2.2 x 1.4cm units appear as if they're bolted together from two separate players, one side with the display, the other with the controls. Apple's iPod Shuffle need not fear it's lost its design lead.

Both models do have a functionality advantage: not only the display, but a built-in FM tuner and voice recording facility. Unlike the SD card-based players, these Flash units do not support AAC, only MP3 and WMA.

An integrated rechargeable battery provides up to ten hours' playback time.

All four players go on sale in Japan on 8 April. The SV100V is expected to retail for around ¥18,00 ($173/£90), the SV90 for ¥14,000 ($134/£70), but don't forget the SD card will cost you extra. Pricing for the other two models was not indicated. And there's no word yet on US and European availability. ®

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