Bang and Olufsen Go MP3.

By Richard Menta- 8/28/01

Here is an interesting surprise with the release of a new MP3 software player for the desktop. Its creator is a manufacturer of high-end sound systems - real high end.

Bang and Olufsen, developer of $100 ear buds as a starter product, have released the BeoPlayer 1.0.0, a digital music player that marks the company's first foray into the MP3 arena. Because of the stature of the company (i.e. it's for rich people and very serious audiophiles) this product sheds light on how important manufacturers see the digital music market in their long term product offerings.

Like all other players the BeoPlayer rips CDs, is CDDB-enabled, and creates playlists. What makes the BeoPlayer a little unusual is that the product takes the form of a toolbar that neatly hides away at the edge of your screen. Click on the B&O icon in the system tray and the toolbar appears on the right side of the screen, ready to play tunes on your drive or CD. Open the playlist, and a second bar appears on the left hand side of the screen with songs displayed vertically.

Some might find this system convenient, others might think it takes too much space on the desktop. It does make the BeoPlayer unique to MP3 players, though this type of toolbar system has been around for years, mostly seen in Internet news tickers and the like. Along with MP3, BeoPlayer supports the WMA, WAV, and ASF formats.


BeoPlayer 1.0.0

Except for RCA, who developed the MP3 format, and Sony, who developed the ATRAC3 format, no other major electronic manufacturer has sought to develop its own desktop player for the market already dominated by the likes of Winamp and MusicMatch. Bang and Olufsen's entry here might signify a move to evoke the status of the company name and draw future customers, branding the exclusivity of the general product, which according to a Bang and Olufsen representative will soon include an MP3 portable line.

The word is that the company will have its first digital music hardware products coming out in the near future. No details are available yet on what those products will be or when they will be released. We are presently putting the BeoPlayer through it's paces, comparing it with the other desktop players out there. We plan to have a full review on it soon., a site that looks to copy the success of S3's Rioport as a distribution point for select artists and their music, supports the product. For those who are interested in checking out the program you can download it here.


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