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MP3 player dispenses with PC

Pine Technology introduces a portable music player that combines a radio, CD drive, and MP3 player, severing the Net's popular music format from reliance on PC storage.

Pine Technology introduced a portable music device that combines a radio, CD drive, and MP3 player, severing the Net's popular music format from relying on PC storage.

Dubbed the SM-200C, Pine's portable MP3 player allows users to listen to music stored on CDs--whether it originated on the Web, from a traditionally manufactured CD, or even FM radio. Since compact discs can hold up to 100 songs stored in the MP3 format, users can access to hours of music without being tethered to their computers, the company said.

In essence, the Pine is one of the first MP3 players to operate independent of the PC, because it can obtain music from sources other than the Web or a computer hard drive.

Unlike other portable MP3 players, however, it cannot store music, a potential drawback. Also, while existing MP3 players require users to download from the Internet, the vast majority of music stored in the format resides there, making the value of MP3's emancipation from the desktop somewhat dubious, observers say.

Pine, which also manufactures CD-ROM drives, recordable CDs, and circuit boards and other computer parts, becomes the latest company to jump on the MP3 bandwagon, a file compression format that allows PC users to download music directly from Web sites to computer or audio devices. Of course, that same ease of distribution has earned the ire of the recording industry, concerned about the potential for piracy and illegal distribution.

"This CD player extends the boundaries of MP3 music more than ever," Brian Hamilton, national sales manager for Pine Technology, said in a statement.

Priced at $299, the device will compete head to head against RioPort's popular Rio player, which was the first to hit the market. Creative Labs has also introduced the Nomad. The RioPort does not contain a CD player or a radio, however, while Nomad has no CD.

Pine's player displays song titles, and offers an anti-shock buffer of 10 seconds, remote control, and adjustable equalizer.

The SM-200C will be available in November, according to Pine.