Philips In Rhapsody Music Tie, Adds Protected-WMV Playback

By Joseph Palenchar On Jan 7 2008 - 8:00am

Philips plans to launch 30 new portable-AV SKUs split equally between music-only MP3 players and MP3/video players.

The selection includes Philips's first four SKUs with the ability to play protected video files downloaded from authorized web sites and the company's first eight models optimized to play back music from Real's Rhapsody download service.

The Rhapsody-optimized models are designed to tighly integrate with Rhapsody's download and subscription-download services and be compatible with a new Rhapsody push service, which automatically loads up to 1GB of music to the devices when the devices are synced to a PC. The titles of the pushed songs will be selected automatically by Rhapsody based on the user's previous subscription downloads, said mobile infotainment marketing director Wieger Deknatel.

Among the eight Rhapsody-optimized models, two are the SA5245 and Bluetooth-equipped SA5245BT MP3/video players, which are also among the four MP3/video players featuring playback of authorized paid-for WMV downloads. The 4GB flash-memory models feature 2.8-inch QVGA LCD screens, 30fps, 25 hours of music playback time, and five hours of video playback time. They're due in the second quarter at suggested retails ranging from $129-$149 and $139-$159, respectively. Bluetooth headphones aren't included.

The other two models with authorized-WMV playback at 30fps are the 8GB SA6185, already available at a suggested $149-$169 with 3.5-inch QVGA screen, and TV-recording 8GB SA6585 with WQVGA 4-inch wide screen, a timer to time-shift TV programs, and a video output to display videos on a connected TV. It's due in the second quarter at a suggested $179-$199. They're also Rhapsody-optimized.

The models that play protected-WMV video downloads do so natively at datarates up to 800kbps.

Protected-WMV downloads with higher data rates can also be played back if a PC uses the Microsoft Vista OS and Windows Media Player 11, which transcodes protected WMV content to lower data rates, a spokeswoman said.

The three other devices with Bluetooth are the 8GB SA5285BT MP3/video player, which is Rhapsody-optimized and due in the second quarter with 2.8-inch screen and 30fps at a suggested $139-$159, and two audio-only GoGear MP3 players, the 2GB SA4725BT and 4GB SA4745BT. Bluetooth headphones aren't included. Both are due in the second quarter at suggested retail ranges of $79-$99, along with versions without Bluetooth at $10 less.

Another top-end MP3/video player is the Rhapsody-optimized $179-$199 SA6545 with WQVGA 4-inch widescreen, 30fps, and 4GB flash memory. It is also due in the second quarter.

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