By Robert Menta- 12/16/00
It is only the size of a key chain. In fact, it is a key chain. That makes the Q by ei Corporation one of the most intriguing storage units we have come across yet. You can't play off of it, but you can use it to do what your SDMI compliant MP3 portables won't allow you to do. That is swap songs from you friends hard drive and upload them to your computer.
Available in 16MB, 32MB, 64MB, and 128MB versions, the Q not only sets a new standard for size, but truly leverages the MP3 format's biggest advantages over other music formats. That advantage is the ability for the digital music players themselves to morph into a variety of convenient sizes and shapes unencumbered by dimensions of the storage media.
The 128MB version of the Q in particular stands out because most competing players are still selling their players with no more than 64MB of memory. 128MB will hold about 40-50 songs that are compressed at the normal 128 kbit setting and 60 songs at the 92 kbit compression. The Q can also store WMA format files, G2, Liquid Audio...it doesn't matter as it sees a file as a file and recognizes all formats as a floppy or hard drive would. Therefore you can bring home song files your digital music portable doesn't recognize and won't allow you to transport. Those same files you CAN play on the software on your PC.
The Q can also be used for storing all types of data like graphic files or Excel spreadsheets for easy transport. The unit itself is essentially just a USB connector with a memory chip on the end. Plug the entire player directly into the USB port of your PC or your friends PC and load the tunes. No cables or external power supply needed.
The Q can presently be purchased on the company's site at eiware.com. The 16MB version is selling for $69.95, the 32MB version for $149.95 and the 64 MB version for $199. No price was given for the 128MB version which is yet to be released. The player presently supports only Windows 98/ME/SE machines but in the furtue will work with Windows2000, iMac/iBook/G3/G4 and Linux.
The Philips Expanium is a CD/MP3 player. Now available on Amazon for $199
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