By Richard Menta- 3/20/00
I-Jam has decided to turn up the heat in the MP3 arena by coming out with not one, but four brand news MP3 portable units. Bigger news yet, all four units are due to be released in the spring which, if it actually happens, will make I-Jam the number one manufacturer of MP3 players with five separate offerings.
The new players include a CD/MP3 hybrid player and a top-of-the-line unit that plays five other digital formats that are competing with MP3 including Microsoft's WMA format and the Liquid Audio Format.
Before we go into the few details we have on these new players, we wanted to make note of something that jumped out at us. Not only do the new I-Jams address the several competing digital formats, but they also address the three competing flash memory cards out there, the MultiMedia Card (MMC) format, Smart Media Card format, and the Compact Flash memory format. This is probably a move on the companies part to hedge their bets in case one format should dominate.
The original I-Jam uses MultiMedia (MMC) Cards. These are the smallest of the cards - they are half the size of the Smart Media cards and one fourth that of the Compact Flash card - and are what allow the original I-Jam to take on its very diminuative dimensions. The cost for this small size is a modest capacity limit which right now maxes out at 32MB. In contrast, the Compact Flash cards recently reached the 224MB mark. Shifting to the larger cards will give the new players more flexibility in memory configuration. Two of the new units will use the Compact Flash memory cards and a third will use the popular Smart Media card used in the Diamond Rio 300 and 500 models.
Here is what the people at I-Jam will bring us this spring. We have no prices on these units yet, we'll do a follow up story when that information is released.
|The IJ-833 is a portable CD player and MP3 player in one unit. Following the path of several manufacturers who are producing such units, the player handles CD-R, CD-RW, and standard audio CD formats.|
The top-of-the-line of the new I-Jam crop, this unit is noted for the ability to play not only MP3 tunes, but Microsoft's WMA format, Real Audio, A2B and Liquid Audio formats. This will be the first unit to read this many compression schemes, a sign that it will be among the first of the third generation players. The player also has an FM radio, USB connection, voice recording capabilities, a built-in loudspeaker (a promising option), and is Mac and PC compatible.
The player uses the large, but high capacity, Compact Flash Type I and Type II cards. Expect memory configurations of up to 224MB.
|The middle-of-the-line of the new pack, the IJ-90 also comes with a built-in loudspeaker and voice recorder. Unlike, the IJ-200, the 90 uses Smart Media Memory cards similar to the Rio, hinting this will be there volume unit. No word yet on which digital compression schemes it will support but the unit will come in several colors like the present I-Jam player.|
|Targeted to the beginner, the IJ-50 will be the lowest priced unit in the I-Jam stable. Like the IJ-200 it uses Compact Flash cards. We don't have much more information on this player but we expect it to be priced under $100, with the original I-Jam holding the fort at around $150. Like the other four, it is targeted for release this spring.|
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