By Robert Menta- 04/13/02
OGG Vorbis may not quite be ready for the major electronic manufacturers to invest their effort in producing OGG products, so it's nice to know that there are 3rd party and garage box builders willing to develop for it.
Last week we wrote about an OGG home stereo component being developed. Now comes news from theKompany.com that they have developed an application for the Linux-based Sharp Zaurus that will turn that PDA into the first OGG Vorbis portable.
Called the tkcPlayer, the application plays MP3 and OGG tunes and was developed using Xiph's Ogg Vorbis toolkit. Because OGG Vorbis is an open patent free codec, many OGG fans have wondered aloud on message boards and the like why there were no portable units adopting the codec yet?
Most MP3 portables can read at least two formats out of the box - an MP3/WMA pairing is the most common - with the ability to add future formats via a firmware upgrade. Because OGG Vorbis is license free, it seems to be a no-brainer to users that its adoption in digital music portables is imminent.
Screenshot of the tkcPlayer
The problem resides in the fact presently there is no real free ogg library that uses integer math. As the majority of mp3 products don't have floating point hardware, they are unable to play OGG files.
The development of a fixed-point decoder has enabled theKompany.com to create an OGG player for these handhelds. They then added their new creation to the list of applications they already developed for the Sharp Zaurus, is essence creating the first OGG portable.
Emmett Plant, CEO of the Xiph.org Foundation said "I'm very proud of the fixed-point decoder. It took a lot of time and I think it's well worth it".
The Zaurus uses SD flash cards to expand onboard memory and the recent release of 512MB SD cards (with 1MB and 2MB coming by years end) means the PDA can be upgraded with plenty of memory to store song files on. SD cards are expensive - presently a 64MB SD card runs about $70 and 128MB cards about $130 - but as with all newer technology prices will drop over time.
Selling for a very reasonable $9.95, the tkcPlayer should have no trouble finding its way to Zaurus users who can now avoid the need to carry both a PDA and MP3 portable.
"I think it meets a need that I hear about every day," said Plant.
The tkcPlayer is also available as part of a $75 suite of embedded apps for the Zaurus that includes; an image viewer, ftp client, personal finance manager, file manager, Jabber client, paint program, editor, and majhongg game.
The 20GB Rio Riot Jukebox can be ordered from Amazon
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