GoVideo unveils audio players

GoVideo, known for its dual-deck VCRs and other consumer electronics products, is jumping back into the digital audio player business with its new Rave-MP players. The players emphasize simplicity and style, and come in both flash memory and hard drive models.

Slick and Svelte Players

The petite Rave-MP AMP flash player fits in the palm of your hand and comes in a sharp-looking burgundy-and-black color scheme. It is scheduled to ship later in August priced at US$99 for a 128MB-capacity player and US$129 for 256MB. The Rave-MP AMP also has an SD card slot to support up to 1GB SD memory cards. A single AAA battery powers the player; the company says it should run as much as 18 hours.

The tapered, brushed aluminum-colored Rave-MP ARC comes in 2.5GB (for US$199) and 5GB (US$229) hard disk flavors. The slender unit is just 2 inches wide, 3.8 inches tall, and 0.68 inches deep. The ARC uses a rechargeable lithium ion battery that the company claims will last for 10 hours or more. The ARC players will be available at the start of September.

Each model will include a carrying case and an armband with a clip. They will also have an FM tuner and a built-in recorder to capture FM audio and voice via the integrated microphone.

Both of the upcoming Rave-MP models reflect thoughtful design. "We wanted to have a device that could be operated with one hand. So we made sure things were logically designed, from the button placement to the menu structure," says Gil Miller, director of digital audio product marketing at GoVideo.

Transferring music will be easy; you can use Windows Explorer, Windows Media Player, MusicMatch Jukebox, or RealOne Player. The players support Windows Media Audio 9's digital rights management technology, so you can use online music services from Napster, Circuit City Stores' MusicNow, Wal-Mart Stores, MSN, and Best Buy Co.

Miller says the company's goal was to create a player that makes it simple to transfer music with the tools and services that users already have, or may have in the future.

"Moving content to and from the PC to the player, and being able to play back that music once it's there--we wanted to make that as easy as possible," he says.

Players Reborn

First introduced in 1999, the Rave-MP line is rising like the phoenix, reborn after a lengthy hiatus. The Rave-MP brand fizzled when GoVideo was on ice during its years under SonicBlue, which also owned the Rio brand of audio products at that time. Ironically, GoVideo is now chasing after Rio Audio, the current market leader in flash audio players, according to market research firm NPD Group.

The frenzy surrounding Apple Computer's IPod has created buzz--and demand--for hard drive-based audio players. Hard drive players took just over 70 percent of the market as of May, says NPD Group's research.

GoVideo believes that 2004 is the year digital audio will explode on the shelves of mass retailers like Wal-Mart, and when it does, flash players will be on the rebound.

"The intro of the hard disk players has pushed the price (of flash players) lower," Miller says. "But we think this will be the year of the mass merchant, and those retailers are taking flash players. So we see the latter half of 2004 into 2005 being driven primarily by flash-based players."

Miller says because of hard drive pricing, a 512MB version of the Rave-MP AMP is still a ways off.

"I expect sometime in 2005 we'll have a 512MB player," he says. "Today, they're not at the prices people expect them to be at." But by the end of 2005, he adds, a 512MB player will cost what a 256MB player does today.

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