Samsung develops MP3 player for Napster

Samsung Electronics is working with Roxio to develop a line of portable audio players that will carry the brand names of both Samsung and Roxio's Napster service, the two companies said Tuesday.

The announcement came a day after a co-branded Samsung-Napster hard disk drive-based MP3 player received approval from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for use in the U.S.

First results from the partnership are expected to be seen later this year when a portable audio player is launched to coincide with the start of the Napster 2.0 service, the two companies said in a statement. Far from its roots as a center for the trade of audio files, the second generation service will allow people to purchase and download music from a catalog of 500,000 songs, according to Roxio. The company is working with five major record companies to operate the service.

The two companies didn't offer any more details of the planned players however on Monday a Samsung-manufactured player received FCC approval. Along with an approval notice the FCC published pictures of the device and the preliminary user manual, which carries the Napster 2.0 logo.

The "Samsung Napster YP-910 Player," includes a 20G-byte hard-disk drive, according to the user manual published by the FCC. The capacity is enough space to store around 5,000 average length MP3 files. That puts it on par storage-wise with Toshiba's recently announced Gigabeat MJ200 player and Apple's new mid-range iPod and half that of Apple's high-end 40G byte iPod.

It measures 108 millimeters by 70 millimeters by 20 millimeters, which is roughly in-line with competing players albeit a little on the thick side, but beats both Toshiba and Apple by a long way when it comes to weight. The player weighs 60 grams, according to the preliminary specifications. If they are correct that makes it less than half the weight of Toshiba's new player and a third the weight of the 40G byte iPod.

Other features include support for both MP3 and Windows Media Audio (WMA) files, a USB (Universal Serial Bus) port, and FM radio and an FM transmitter that means you can listen to songs wirelessly through an FM radio. It is this latter feature for which FCC regulatory approval was necessary.

It also includes a rechargable battery that provides enough power for up to 10 hours use, and a recording function that can be used to record from the built-in FM radio or an external device, such as a CD player, to an MP3 file, the manual said.

Hard disk drive based MP3 player comparison
Player Length (millimeters) Width (millimeters) Depth (millimeters) Approx. Volume (cubic centimeters) Weight (grams)
Samsung YP-910 108 70 20 151 60
Toshiba Gigabeat MEG200J 89.5 76.5 12.7 86.9 138
Toshiba Gigabeat MEG50JS 112.0 72.5 22.3 181.1 235
Apple iPod 20GB 104 60.9 15.7 99.4 158
Apple iPod 40GB 104 60.9 18.5 117.2 176
Sources: Samsung preliminary user manual published by FCC, Toshiba press release, Toshiba Web site, Apple Japan Web site

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Martyn Williams

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