At Comdex today Sony will unveil new MP3 player designed for use with personal computers.
The Vaio MusicClip resembles a larger version of the cylindrical remote control units that come with most of the company’s Walkman products. It weighs just 1.68 ounces, is a little wider than a conventional “AA” battery and is 4.69 inches long, making it one of the smallest and lightest MP3 players on the market.
As its name suggests, the device will be marketed as an add-on peripheral to Sony’s range of Vaio notebook computers but can be used by any personal computer user. A USB port is provided for connection to PCs and can be used to download two hours of music into the device in three minutes.
The MusicClip supports MP3, WAV and Sony’s own ATRAC3 compression system and also includes support for the OpenMG security system, which is compliant with specifications from the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), and on which Sony has led development. Sony is also offering a MusicClip jukebox application through which users can store and organize music on their PCs.
Moreover, Sony said the device has the ability to decode files compressed using other audio codecs, such as the Windows Media Player, once decoding software for the device becomes available.
A single “AA” battery provides enough power for five hours play and the built-in 64M-byte memory can accommodate two hours of music when stored in ATRAC3.
Sony will begin shipping the MusicClip commercially in Japan and the U.S. in January 2000. In the U.S., the device is expected to retail for $299, around 25 percent cheaper than the company’s planned MP3 Walkman.
The MP3 Walkman is also scheduled to be launched later this year but will be designed for standalone use.
Asked about a possible music download service from Sony, which also owns Sony Music Entertainment Ltd., a Sony spokesman at Comdex said the company was considering such a service for both general PC users and customers of its Vaio MusicClip and MP3 Walkman.
Information about the device can be found on the Sony Web site at http://www.sony.com/musicclip/.