Digital Audio players to use Iomega PocketZip technology

You'll be able to save about 80 minutes of music onto a little disk, and they'll cost about a tenner each

It will soon be easier to carry lots of digital songs around with you, following a deal between I-Jam and Iomega announced Wednesday. I-Jam and Win-Jam digital audio players are going to be compatible with 40Mb PocketZip disks, and designed to work with Windows Media Player 7.

PocketZip disks, which were previously marketed as Clik! disks, measure about 2in by 2in, and weigh 10g. They'll hold around 80 minutes of music as Windows Media Audio(WMA) files, although they will also play MP3s, and at £10 each Iomega anticipates that users will buy as many as 20 disks.

"We expect PocketZip-based digital audio players to have huge appeal with customers", said Bruce Albertson, president and chief executive of Iomega. "The download capability allows consumers to built albums of their favourite songs, and the disks are as affordable as successful music formats in the past, including CDs, tapes and vinyl albums".

Release dates for the new players are not yet available, but it's known that the Win-Jam II will use a USB connection and should have a battery life of twelve hours using a rechargeable lithium battery. The internal PocketZip drive should ensure skip-free playback when on the move.

The MP3 market is beginning to show more divergence. Creative Labs is about to launch the DAP Jukebox, which contains a 6Gb hard drive and can store about 150 albums. S3, whose Rio 600 stores tunes on internal RAM, is developing a hi-fi rack system that lets an MP3 player download tracks without having to connect to a PC.

According to a Rio spokesman, this increased variety in MP3 players proves that digital music is here to stay. "This divergence is a natural progression, and proves that digital music is no longer a niche market. The arrival of companies such as Sony into the arena has given added credibility, and manufacturers are now trying to put their own spin on the concept of a digital audio player," he said.

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