Takara unveils mini digital music player

Takara Co. Ltd., a Tokyo toy maker, is giving one of its most popular product lines a high-tech touch. The company has taken some of its small plastic cars and built a digital music player into them, and is displaying the result at Ceatec.

The cars, which sell under the ChoroQ name, are very popular in Japan. At around 5 centimeters in length and 3 centimeters in width and height, they are smaller than the Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars that are popular in other countries but a similar type of product. The new music player versions, which the company has called "MChoroQ", are due to come out in March next year and are based around Sony Corp.'s recently introduced MemoryStick Duo.

A small slot at the rear of the car accepts the memory card. The players require the MagicGate version of the card, which has copy-protection circuitry and will only play back ATRAC3 encoded content. A PC application will convert files into the format, which is used on Sony digital music players and MiniDisc. The player is powered by a couple of button cells.

In addition to the cars, Takara was also demonstrating versions of the music players built into model puppies. While they may look like children's toys, they cost a little more. The company said they will cost ¥19,800 (US$165) and it expects to sell around 100,000 units per year.

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