Virgin music device gets 'round

Virgin Electronics heads to Silicon Valley, releases MP3 device that plays style over storage.

With its new MP3 player, Virgin Electronics is offering 21st-century technology in the shape of a 19th-century pocket watch.

Style seems to have taken priority over storage: The circular, half-ounce gadget has a capacity of 128MB, meaning that it can hold about 40 songs. That's significantly less than the number of songs--about 1,000--that can fit in Apple Computer's rectangular iPod Mini, which holds one-fifth to one-tenth the number of songs in the full-fledged iPod.

But the Virgin device, unveiled Monday, also has a more modest price tag. Available now at Target department stores, it sells for $99.99. The iPod Mini, by comparison, costs $249.

The company also announced on Monday that it is relocating from New York to San Jose, Calif., to be in the thick of Silicon Valley. Along with the move come two new executives: CEO Greg Woock and a senior vice president of marketing, Joe Sipher. Both executives formerly worked at handheld maker Handspring, now PalmOne. Woock also has worked at device maker Creative Technology, while Sipher had earlier been with Palm.

Virgin Electronics says it plans to build digital products with an emphasis on ease of use and customer value. It will focus initially on music products. That puts it in an increasingly crowded field against heavyweights such as Sony, Dell and soon, Hewlett-Packard.

The music player comes with its own ear buds but can also work with other headsets. Separately, Virgin introduced a $39.99 headphone for airline travelers with what it calls noise-canceling technology.

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