By Richard Menta 9/14/02
Jukebox MP3 portables - the bigger ones that use hard drive technology for 5-20GBs of storage - have evolved into a pretty successful niche. The original Creative Nomad Jukebox is among the top selling players of all all time. The smallest of the bunch, the Apple iPod, has had tremendous success recently, along the way setting new standards for size and weight. This success is drawing more competition from the major electronics manufacturers.
Samsung recently announced the Yepp YP-900, their first offering into the digital jukebox market. Previewing it at last week's CeBIT Asia exhibition, the Yepp YP-900 comes with a 10GB storage capacity.
No dimensions or weight values are available for the unit at this time, but the Yepp YP-900 will use the same Toshiba 1.8-inch hard disk found in the Apple iPod (heavier 2.5-inch drives run most jukebox units including the Nomad and the Rio Riot). The YP-900 will initially be available with a 10GB drive, but as most competing units offer a 20GB version we expect a 20GB Yepp unit will also be announced when the player is released early next year.
The Yepp YP-900 will play both MP3 and WMA files and includes an FM radio. File transfers will be handled using USB 2.0 technology, a very interesting choice by Samsung. To the best of our knowledge the only other players to offer USB 2.0 are the 15GB and 20GB versions of the Archos Jukebox MP3 Recorder.
The Apple iPod and the Nomad Jukebox 3 transfer files using the competing FireWire technology (the Nomad also offers a USB 1.1 port). Both port technologies run significantly faster than the standard USB 1.1, but USB 2.0 has not seen the saturation of FireWire to this point.Without getting into an argument over which is better or will become more popular, the majority of users do not have either yet and therefore will have to invest fifty dollars on a card to move files to these players at high speeds.
FireWire transfers files at 400mbps, USB 2.0 at a slightly higher 480Mbps. Another modest advantage of USB 2.0 is that users can utilize their USB 1.1 port - at a much slower 12mbps transfer rate - until a USB 2.0 card is acquired.
Samsung has priced the 10GB Yepp YP-900 at $399 and expects to ship the unit by next February/March. We hope to have a photo of this unit soon.
The Apple iPod for Windows is available on Amazon in 10GB and 20GB versions.
Other MP3 Stories:
Review: The Archos Jukebox Multimedia - Portable that plays MPEG-4 video files and MP3's
iRiver announces two new digital music portables