By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Escient upgraded its entry-level and midpriced FireBall music managers with the addition of lossless-compression technology, stepped-up network-connectivity to a PC, and greater hard-disk capacity in the mid-priced model.
The $1,999-suggested FireBall E2-40 and $2,999 E2-160 join the top-end $3,999 E2-300, launched last fall, to round out the company's second-generation lineup of digital music managers. The devices' hard disk drives (HDDs) provide storage capacities of 40GB, 160GB and 300GB, respectively. Each model also controls up to three Sony or Kenwood CD/DVD megachangers and integrates. The HDD-stored songs and the songs on the changers' CDs are integrated into a single onscreen menu to simplify song selection.
The music managers can be integrated into an installed distributed-audio system, but they can also be controlled from other rooms through a $999-suggested Ethernet-connected MP-150 client connected to remote audio systems. Up to five separate songs can be played simultaneously through a FireBall and four connected clients.
All of the new products are due in the first quarter.
The new generation adds free lossless audio codec encoding/decoding to their predecessors' MP3 encoding/decoding. Stepped-up PC connectivity enables the FireBalls to transfer and store music files from an Ethernet-networked PC and to stream music from the PC. Likewise, the PC will download and stream music from the FireBalls. The midprice model features 160GB capacity compared to its predecessor's 120GB.
Like before, CDs can be ripped from an internal disc drive or from connected megachangers.
Also due in the first quarter: the $4,999-suggested DVDM-300 media management system, the company's first CD/DVD media management system to combine an internal music-storing HDD and ability to control up to three connected DVD/CD megachangers. The FireBall DVDM-300 features 300GB HDD and control of up to 1,200 CDs and DVDs stored in three Sony DVD megachangers, three Kenwood DVD megachangers or three Sony CD megachangers.
The Ethernet-networked device streams music via an Ethernet connection to Escient clients or to networked PCs. The FireBall and clients will also stream music from a networked PC.
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