By Richard Menta- 10/17/01
Back in August we reported on the BeoPlayer 1.0.0, a desktop MP3 player that was developed by Bang and Olufsen for playing digital music off the computer. We thought this was rather curious that a maker of high end electronics would become software developers and as we wrote in that article:
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.
Now Bang and Olufsen has completed the puzzle with the release of the BeoLink PC 2. As it turns out, BeoPlayer was only the first step in the audio manufacturers plan to integrate the music downloaded on our computers and make it available throughout the home.
The need to somehow liberate hundreds, even thousands, of music files from our computer systems to other areas in our homes and offices is a growing market that already has seen several different ideas come to fruition to address it. The Rio Receiver converts the phone lines of your home into a network, using the phone jacks as a plug-in source. US Robotics' Soundlink uses FM frequencies to transmit music from your system to other sources via standard radio waves.
With the BeoLink, Bang and Olufsen already had a home network device that connected its audio products. The BeoPlayer and BeoLink PC 2 now improve music delivery by harnessing your PCs power as the brains of the system, while simultaneously bringing your digital music collection into the fold.
The Bang and Olufsen BeoLink system accomplishes all this through their proprietary MasterLink cable, which is strung throughout the house either under room molding or into the wallboard itself. Once in place, the BeoLink connects several present B&O products like the company BeoSound 9000 and BeoSound 3000, and will soon incorporate everything from B&O Radios, TVs, Satellite setups, DVDs, etc. All can be controlled from the computer screen.
This setup is far more expensive than using existing phone jacks, but then everything Bang and Olufsen does is expensive.
Those a little light in the pocketbook can simply go with the free BeoPlayer as their MP3 player if they want the company logo as a status symbol for the PC. It's a good player, though not better than the latest versions of Winamp or Sonique. It does use a unique toolbar setup, which might be preferable to some. The stoic black design layout may also be more appealing to the over 40 set than the array of funky skins available on the most popular MP3 players.
The question left is how many electronic manufacturers -both low and high end -are looking at a similar game plan to connect their audio products to the PC, merging computer and stereo. I would think it is on the minds of all those who put out complete home theater setups like RCA and Sony. Success on B&O's part here might help them make that decision if they haven't already.
World's Smallest MP3 Player
Compaq to Release MP3/CD Portable
Devaluing the Product - Copyright-protected CDs
MP3Trim Edits Your Song Files
PressPlay and MusicNet to Launch
Review: Aiwa MM-RX400 MP3 Portable