Dell to sell S3 digital music device

PC maker moves into consumer electronics with Dell Digital Audio Receiver

Dell is to take the plunge into the digital music market this summer with an MP3 player co-marketed with S3.

The PC maker, best known for its direct-sales effectiveness, has confirmed it will manufacture an MP3 home stereo component called Dell Digital Audio Receiver. Designed to be part of a home stereo system, the device will accept music files from an Internet-connected PC.

The receiver will premiere at PC Expo next week in New York and will go on sale in the US in August. Details about UK distribution were not immediately available. Pricing will be $199 if bought with a PC, or $249 by itself.

The receiver is part of Dell's plans to promote the PC as the centre of a 'networked home', linked to all sorts of consumer devices. Dell said the new receiver is the first product to integrate PC-based music into the traditional stereo system.

"Customers have made a significant investment in their PCs, music libraries and home stereo systems," said Stephan Godevais, vice president of Dell's consumer products, in a statement. "The Dell Digital Audio Receiver is designed to make it easy for all of these things to work together so our customers can enjoy their favourite digital music in any room of the home on remote receivers or on their stereo system," said Godevais.

The technology inside the device will be designed by S3, which has recently ditched its graphics business to focus entirely on consumer electronics. It bought Diamond Multimedia, and with it, the pioneering Rio line of MP3 players.

S3 has co-branding deals with other big names, including Nike. In July Nike and S3 will begin selling the $299 Personal Sport Audio Play 120 digital audio device, with other products following later in the year. The Personal Sport Audio was created with S3's Diamond Multimedia division and plays up to 120 minutes of digital quality music -- such as MP3 files and Windows Media audio files -- with 64 megabytes of built-in memory.

As with the Nike deal, S3 created the technology for the co-branded product, which it is manufacturing, and Dell designed the exterior.

Dell Digital Audio Receiver connects to a PC via a phone line and a networking card, which is used to access users' existing PC-based music collection. Music files on the PC can be downloaded from the Internet or encoded from standard CDs.

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