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Archos takes on iPod Mini

The company touts its own tiny player with a 20GB hard drive, joining a host of others aiming to take a bite out of Apple.

Portable-device maker Archos is taking on Apple Computer's iPod Mini with its own tiny player that costs $250 and has a 20GB hard drive.

The upstart announced on Thursday the Gmini XS200, which is comparable in size and price to the iPod Mini but has five times the storage capacity. The iPod Mini, which costs $249, comes with a 4GB hard drive. The Gmini will be available by the end of October.

The hard drive-based digital audio player market has been growing rapidly, thanks in large part to Apple and its iPod players. The Mac maker said Wednesday that it shipped more than 2 million iPods in its fourth quarter, a 500 percent increase compared with the same period a year ago.

That success has interested a number of competitors, including Dell, which also announced on Thursday a diminutive digital player, called the Pocket DJ 5, as part of a blitz of consumer electronics products, including a plasma screen TV and portable photo printer. The $199 Pocket DJ 5 comes with 5GB of storage and will begin shipping in November. The company cut the price on its 20GB Dell DJ to $249 from $279.

Apple's success has also spurred competitors such as Sony to recast their digital music strategies. Executives from the electronics giant said Wednesday that new devices will be coming out by the middle of next year that will support the popular MP3 format and perhaps other widely used formats.

Archos Gmini supports MP3, WMA and WAV audio files, and stores up to 5,000 songs, according to the company. The device measures 2.9 inches by 2.3 inches by 0.7 inches and has a 2.2-inch monochrome display.

The player also comes with software that enables consumers to manipulate the music files directly on the device. That lets people delete, rename, copy and move files and create folders on the device without using a computer. Files can be transferred to and from a PC over a USB 2.0 connection.