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SanDisk flashes new digital audio devices

The company's first digital audio players are part of a play to expand the market for flash memory.

SanDisk is releasing its first line of digital audio players to help expand use of its key product, flash memory.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., company announced Tuesday the availability of its flash-memory-based Digital Audio Player line. The company aims to use its leverage as a leading flash memory maker to release low-cost players. There are three players in its current line: a $99.99 red player with 256MB of memory, a $149.99 blue version with 512MB of memory and a $199.99 silver device with a 1GB memory capacity.

Photo: SanDisk
SanDisk's flash-memory-based digital
audio player

Each device runs on a single AAA battery and includes FM radio and a voice recorder. The device can play back MP3 and Windows Media and Windows-based DRM files. The devices connect to a PC over a USB 2.0 connection. The 256MB player can store about 120 songs, and the 1GB device can store about 480 songs.

The products are the company's first digital audio players. SanDisk is also examining other types of devices.

"Our strategy is to look at product categories that use significant amounts of flash memory," said Mike Wong, a spokesman for SanDisk. "These flash players use embedded flash memory, allowing us to offer devices at significantly lower prices."

Flash memory is a popular storage technology for portable devices, such as digital audio players and cameras, because it's a solid-state memory, so it doesn't skip. However, storage capacities are not as large as with hard drives, and flash memory tends to carry a MB-per-dollar premium.

Flash memory card makers have been shrinking the size of cards to fit into smaller devices, such as cell phones, and have been gradually increasing the capacities--which currently top out at 4GB.