MP3 maker unleashes 6GB player

Creative Technology launches its much-anticipated Nomad Jukebox, an MP3 player capable of storing up to six gigabytes of multiple audio file formats such as WAV and MP3.

SINGAPORE--Creative Technology has launched its Nomad Jukebox, an MP3 player capable of storing up to six gigabytes of multiple audio file formats such as WAV and MP3.

The Nomad Jukebox can store content from more than 150 compact discs.

MP3 (MPEG-1, Audio Layer-3) is a standard method of compressing sound into a very small file--about one-twelfth the size of the original file--while preserving the original level of sound quality when played.

Dressed up like a conventional CD player and weighing 14 ounces, Nomad's MP3 player has a large backlit liquid-crystal display LCD and features flash-based upgradeable software. It runs on four rechargeable AA-sized batteries.

PC users will be able to convert audio CD tracks into MP3 files and store them in the Jukebox using Creative's PlayCenter 2 software, which will be included in the package. Macintosh-based conversions are similarly supported with the SoundJam MP, which will also be included in the package.

Besides CD-quality audio sounds, the Jukebox adds Creative's EAX technology, which allows the creation and personalization of audio files.

"I know we cannot depend on the SoundBlaster forever...Since we are the king of audio out there, we are playing with our strength," Creative chief executive Sim Wong Hoo told Bloomberg News. He went on to say that Creative hoped to see the same, if not better, success for the Jukebox as it did with SoundBlaster.

The new product is expected to generate sales of $100 million during the next 12 months, Sim said. "I believe that personal digital entertainment technologies will carry Creative for the next 10 years."

Looking ahead, Creative has allowed for future developments in audio formats; the Jukebox is reprogrammable from the Internet. Creative also expects to release a wireless remote control for the player by the end of the year and has included an infrared window in the Jukebox to accommodate the optional device.

Nomad Jukebox, which is available in blue-silver or silver, costs $499 off the shelf. Online buyers can get it for $399. Prices may fall if the flash memory chips used in the players fall, Sim said.

The first Jukeboxes are expected to be available from mid-August.

Singapore.CNET.com's Priscilla Wong reported from Singapore. Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

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