Creative expands its music player line

Creative has announced plansto release three new models of its digital music player, Zen Micro,including a 1GB flash-memory device.

Creative on Thursday announced plans to release three new models of its digital music player, Zen Micro, including a 1GB flash-memory device.

The other new models being readied will offer 4GB and 6GB of storage, the company said. A 5GB version of the Zen Micro is already available.

All the players will feature support for both the MP3 and WMA formats, up to 12 hours of battery life, an FM radio and recorder, a voice recorder, vertical touch pad controls and access to 2 million downloadable songs through MSN Music and services such as Napster, MusicMatch and Wal-Mart, Creative said.

Additionally, the 6GB model will be able to hold more than 3,000 songs, Creative said.

The 1GB model will be available sometime in the first quarter for US$199.99. The 4GB and the 6GB models will be available later this month, for US$229.99 and US$299.99, respectively. The 5GB player, which has been available since November, is priced at US$249.99.

"Since we first shipped the Zen Micro 5GB model...we have experienced tremendous demand and sold out in many locations," Sim Wong Hoo, Creative's CEO, said in a statement. "To meet this overwhelming demand, we plan to increase our production capacity significantly this quarter."

Apple Computer currently dominates the digital-music market with its iPod and its iTunes music download service. There are rumors that the company is planning to announce a flash-based music player at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco next week.