By Richard Menta- 10/03/01
With the considerable success Intel is enjoying with its first MP3 portable, the 128MB Intel Pocket Concert, it's no surprise that they are expanding the line. The 128MB standard memory put Intel's player in a class shared only with the Rio 800 128MB and the sales show it.
Now Intel is dropping down to the 64MB player market, the most crowded and competitive segment. The Intel Audio Player 3000 comes 64MB of memory and, unlike the Pocket Concert, has an expansion slot for additional memory. The Audio Player 3000 takes the tiny MultiMedia Flash Cards that have been gaining ground over the larger Smart Media and CompactFlash memory cards found in earlier digital music portables.
The most interesting aspect is the ability of the change the faceplate of the unit by sliding graphics behind the plastic shield. This gives the user more flexibility than the hard plastic faceplate choices SonicBlue offers for the Rio 600. The Audio Player 3000 comes with 5 inserts and software called Faceplate Designer that lets you personalize your player with your own custom inserts. This could include photographs of loved ones or original art transposed to paper.
The Intel Audio Player 3000 can play both MP3 and WMA files and comes with MusicMatch Jukebox 6.1 Plus version for ripping CDs and managing playlists on the PC. The Plus version of MusicMatch is a nice feature, most portables supply the free, not enhanced, version of this program.
The unit operates on a single AA battery and files are transferred via the now standard USB connection.
List price for the Intel Audio Player 3000 is $149, same as the 32MB RCA K@zoo that we reviewed recently showing how aggressive Intel plans to compete in this market segment. Still, the unit plays only on Windows machines, eschewing the Macintosh market that, while small, is significant.
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