The Ogg Vorbis project to create a fully open, licence-free alternative to the MP3 format got a boost on Thursday with the release of the first Ogg player for a handheld device.
A firm called TheKompany, which makes Linux desktop tools and developer applications, released tkcPlayer for Sharp's Linux-based Zaurus handheld computer. TkcPlayer also handles MP3 files, and includes features like filtering by different song attributes and playlist management. The Zaurus will launch in the UK next week.
TheKompany claims that the Ogg files compress to 10 percent smaller than MP3 files, with 50 percent better quality on average, and consume a third less power on the Zaurus during playback.
Ogg Vorbis is an open-source project aimed at creating an audio compression-decompression format similar to MP3, but free of patents and licence fees. MP3, or MPEG Audio Layer 3, has become the de facto standard for trading audio files over the Internet because of the small size and high quality of its files, but the format is controlled by the Fraunhofer Group and other members of the MPEG Consortium. Software and makers must pay Fraunhofer royalties for each encoder distributed.
The open-source technology isn't yet available as a Version 1.0 release, a step that is required before many companies will adopt the technology. The latest version of the software is Release Candidate 3, distributed at the end of last year.