Digital music a hit with kids

Young adults aren't the only ones getting on the digital music bandwagon, judging by some of the toys demonstrated at Toy Fair 2000 in New York this week.

Several companies were showing off devices that allowed kids to download music clips off the Internet and then carry them around or digitally morph them.

Tiger Electronics, a division of Hasbro, showed off a few new products that will be co-branded with the Yahoo! name. The Yahoo! HitClips products include a downloading device priced between $19.99 (£12) and $24.99. The device plugs into a computer's audio port and lets a kid record up to two minutes of sound onto small flash-memory chips. The chips can be played in a variety of key-chain devices from Tiger, including the $7.99 Micro Player, the $9.99 Micro Boombox and the $14.99 Alarm Clock.

Tiger will also be selling pre-recorded HitClips, featuring 60 seconds of music from Atlantic Records' artists including Christina Aguleira. Those should cost around $4 each. Since the HitClips plug into the computer's audio port, they can record any music off the Internet, irrelevant of the format. But several companies are working on devices that use the popular MP3 digital music format.

KB Gear Interactive is showing a portable MP3 player designed for children. Priced under $100, the Jam-P3 will hold 16MB of music and comes in a rugged metallic-silver casing.

And Cybiko, which has developed a handheld device for kids that allows them to communicate through infrared technology, is working on an add-on MP3 player that should be available later this year. "What happened last year with digital photography is happening this year with MP3," said Pete Stoddart of KB Gear. "Kids are already there; this is the expected technology."

KB Gear is also showing the JamIt, a digital recorder that allows kids to download sound clips to their computer through a USB connection and digitally alter the clips. The JamIt will be priced at $59 and will be available this summer.

Intel and Mattel Interactive have teamed up to produce the Intel Play Computer Sound Morpher, which also lets kids record sounds that can be digitally altered on their PC.

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