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PC World

Sony debuts MusicClip MP3 player


by Martyn Williams

(IDG) -- Sony unveiled on Monday a 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 1.7 ounces, is a little wider than a conventional AA battery and is 4.7 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. It will also work with any PC with a Universal Serial Bus connector. A PC can download two hours of music into the device in three minutes.

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Sony will begin shipping the MusicClip commercially in the U.S. in January. It is expected to retail for $299, around 25 percent cheaper than the company's planned MP3 Walkman. (The MP3 Walkman is scheduled to be launched later this year, but will be designed for stand-alone use.)

The MusicClip supports .mp3 and .wav file formats, and Sony's own ATRAC3 compression system. It also includes support for the OpenMG security system, which is compliant with specifications from the Secure Digital Music Initiative; Sony has led development of that standard. Sony is offering a MusicClip jukebox application that allows users to store and organize music on their PCs.

Moreover, Sony said the MusicClip will decode files compressed with other methods such as the Windows Media Player, when software becomes available.

A single AA battery provides enough power for 5 hours of play, and the built-in 64MB memory can accommodate 2 hours of music when stored in ATRAC3.

Asked about a possible music download service from Sony, which also owns Sony Music Entertainment, a Sony spokesperson said the company was considering such a service for both general PC users and customers of its Vaio MusicClip and MP3 Walkman.

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