Dell DJ music player, download service to hit streets

Dell released details Monday about its previously announced Dell Digital Jukebox music player and its new download service, both of which will be available Tuesday.

As first reported by IDG News Service, the Dell DJ music player will come with a 15G-byte hard drive. A second version with a 20G-byte hard drive will also be available. Hitachi Ltd.'s 1.8-inch Travelstar hard drive will be used in the new music players, Dell said.

The 15G-byte version will be priced at US$249, while the 20G-byte version will cost $329 when it goes on sale Tuesday through Dell's Web site. The Dell DJ weighs 7.6 ounces (212.8 grams), and will play music continuously for 16 hours, according to Dell.

Apple Computer Inc. was one of the first companies to release a music player with a hard drive, and the first to enjoy widespread success with the device. Apple's iPod music players come in 10G-byte, 20G-byte and 40G-byte versions, and weigh less than the Dell DJ. Prices start at $299 for the 10G-byte version.

Dell's music download service will come through a partnership with Musicmatch, which offers 250,000 songs for $0.99 each, or complete albums from artists such as Dido and 50 Cent for $9.99 or higher.

Songs will be available in the MP3 or WMA (Windows Media Audio) format. A version of Apple's iTunes service for Windows users launched earlier this month, but allows Windows users to download songs only in the M4P format, also known as AAC (advanced audio coding). The M4P file extension was developed by Apple as digital rights management (DRM) technology for iTunes, and songs created in that file format will not play on portable devices other than the iPod.

The Musicmatch service uses the DRM technology within the WMA format to limit the number of copies of a song that can be ripped to a CD or transferred to portable music players that support the WMA format.

Both the iPod and the Dell DJ will play the MP3 files that users have assembled by ripping their CD collections or downloading songs from file-sharing sites.

Dell also plans to release its first digital LCD (liquid crystal display) televisions on Tuesday. The Round Rock, Texas, company has aggressively entered the consumer electronics market along with Apple, Gateway Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co., as the companies look for alternate sources of revenue outside the PC market.

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Tom Krazit

IDG News Service
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