MP3 hits the road - UK startup to launch in-car system

Somerset developers create the world's first commercially available MP3 player for a car... and it runs on Linux
Written by Jane Wakefield, Contributor

Somerset could be home to the world's first commercially available in-car MP3 player thanks to fledgling electronics firm, Empeg which says it will ship its `empeg-car' sometime in March.

The empeg-car is no wider than a CD and fits into a dashboard much like any car stereo. The difference lies in the digital music stored on the unit's 2.1Gb drive, expandable to 28.8Gb and capable of storing upto 476 hours of music or 500 albums. The empeg-car is removable -- if a user wants to record new tracks to the player it connects to a PC via a serial or USB connection.

Empeg hopes to avoid the wrath of the music industry which is still moaning about Diamond's Rio: the empeg-car's software has been designed to prevent copying onto other media and the company states clearly on its home page that the unit is "a player and not a mechanism to support music piracy".

empeg-car uses a 220Mhz StrongARM processor which, according to Empeg "provides enough power for MP3 decoding, plus spare capacity to deal with future standards". It runs Linux which Empeg chose because it is "solid and reliable" and because of the development team's love for Linux creator Linus Torvalds who, apparently, has his own shrine in Somerset.

Unit prices are $949 (£580).

Earlier this week, ZD Net UK News reported Creative Labs' plans to launch its own Rio-bashing MP3 player. It will probably support formats other than MP3 but details of what form the player will take are not yet available.

Take me to the MP3 Special

Editorial standards