Comdex Spring: Copyright protection for digital music

US firm Hagiwara Sys-Com is showing off an interesting prototype of a SmartMedia music player at Comdex this week. The device is designed for the Japanese market, but it may make it over here in a year or two.

The small player is designed to bypass the main objections to MP3 -- copyright protection. It uses the Twin VQ compression and delivery method, which compresses at a ratio of 14-to-1, compared to 10-to-1 for MP3. But the company is also building a reader-writer that will add copy-protection and serial copy management, which should make the record companies happy.

Although the player is an early prototype, it's a good example of what is being developed to playback digital media. Expect to see a range of digital audio players at CES in January 2000.

Hagiwara is also showing off a range of interesting SmartMedia devices: the company has moved on with its cool digital picture-frame display devices like the Lukis JPEG image viewer which now includes a four-inch colour LCD and a dedicated SmartMedia slot.

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