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Hard-Disk Recorder, Web Radio Roundup

1/08/2002 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Here are some of the Internet radios and hard-disk recorders being introduced at CES:

Escient: Two new products: TuneBase 200 ($1,199, January) can control and rip from 200-, 300- and 400-disc Sony changers via a touch-panel control. Compatibility will expand this year to Integra, Marantz, Kenwood, Pioneer and Denon. It's equipped with a VGA-output for connectivity to third-party custom -install control systems. FireBall (January, $1,999) is a combined CD-RW burner, streaming audio receiver via NetRadio, and expandable 40GB hard-disk server. It also provides control and rip capabilities with Sony jukeboxes. Up to five FireBalls in different rooms can be daisy-chained via Ethernet or Home PNA to create single large hard-disk jukebox accessible from any unit. They connect to a TV screen for control, use Ethernet or Home PNA to access PC-based MP3 files, and use USB to off-load files to a variety of portable players.

Imerge: New multizone versions of S1000 SoundServer ($1,000) are the two-zone S1002 ($2,999, November 2001) and S1003 ($3,999, November 2001). DIY multizone capability delivered by use of Imerge "ThinClient" device that connects to Sound Servers via Home PNA.

All three SoundServers have a single-play CD player and 80GB hard drive that stores either WAV or MP3. Units have USB ports but no portable player drivers. Delivers CDDB tags as well as artist bios, discographies, ticketing/concert information, and scheduling via company's proprietary XiVA-Net portal; available in the UK now, in the U.S. sometime this quarter.

Xiva-Net being licensed to other Imerge has licensed its platform, dubbed XiVA, to ReVox, Linn and Integra. Three more manufacturer licensees will be announced at CES.

JVC: NX-HD10 ($699.95; 3Q 2002), a 23watts-per-channel shelf system with 10GB hard drive that stores songs in Dolby AAC (Advanced Audio Coding). System also includes an AM/FM radio with an auto tuner that can record up to 30 minutes; a Windows keyboard is optional. No CDDB — track info must be input manually, and the CD drive doesn't read CD-RW or MP3 encoded discs.

Lasonic: DAC 950 ($4,500, 1Q 2002) is a three-zone server with a 40GB drive designed for use in custom installed systems. It's based on Lasonic's current single-zone Pro Series 750.

Perception Digital: PD Hercules II ($699, December 2001) is the second-generation 20GB hard disk server from the Honk Kong-based company. GraceNote's CDDB capability is new. The unit also includes keyboard, USB port for PC connectivity, and a SmartMedia slot to off-load files for portable MP3 player. The unit can rip from any connected audio source, including CD, MD and vinyl.

Philips: The MCi-200 ($399, June) streaming-audio microsystem uses IM Networks software and will replace the current FWi-1000 minisystem ($499). The MCi-200 is a compact executive-style system in a wood cabinet. It adds MP3/CD-RW playback and eliminates the cassette deck from the current model. The system consists of an electronics section and two slim-line speakers.

RCA: The Digital Media Manager ($999, May) streams audio via Radio Free Virgin ( in QuickTime, MP3, WMA, and RealAudio), 20GB hard-disk server, and CD/DVD player with built-in modem and HomePNA, wireless keyboard, and TV connectivity.

ReQuest Multimedia: ARQ2-Pro 100 Digital Music Management System ($5,000, December 2001) is a custom-installed server with a removable faceplate to allow swapping of 60-100GB hard disk drives. A proprietary Ethernet networking feature enables off-site multizone access and control capabilites (to second homes or boats, for example) anywhere in the world. Includes single-play CD player, S/PDIF and TOSLink connections to high-end amplifiers, and stores either MP3 or uncompressed WAV files. It features a built-in CD Lookup database, making it unnecessary to dial into a Web-based CD database.

ReVox: ReVox's M57 ($8,500, January), is a multizone server that can be expanded from four to 16 zones, has an 80GB hard disk, and is equipped with bays for adding two additional hard drives ($500-$700 each). It stores MP3 files or uncompressed PCM. There's a single-play 4X CD player for ripping discs and an RS-232 port that supports and control NSM or Sony 200-, 300-, 400-disc jukeboxes. It also features HomePNA an two USB ports, which can be used to attach a Handspring Springboard remote-control attachment. The ports do not support other external portable MP3 players. It's designed to be used in AMX and Crestron multiroom systems.

Samsung: The company's first entry in the hard-drive audio market is the DVD-H40 DVD player, which also features a 40GB hard drive for storing music and EZ Time Shift feature to pause and replay live broadcasts. It ships in June at a suggested $699. It also features Memory Stick interface.

Sima: There are two new I-MIX MP3 jukeboxes at CES. The IM-421 ($699, March) features an 8GB hard drive storing up to 139 hours of MP3 music. The IM-422 ($899, March) features 17GB drive (295 hours) and includes a keyboard. Both include USB port to transfer music to supported portable MP3 players and from connected PCs.

SonicBlue: Rio Audio Center ($1,499.95, February) features a 40GB drive and a CD-RW burner that can rip or burn in either MP3 or WMA at up to 320kbps. Other features: Ethernet (via USB), 56kbps modem, HomePNA connectivity, three USB ports, and ability to off-load files to Rio portables and connect to Rio Receivers, which stream music from a connected PC's hard drive. Its large LCD panel eliminates the need for connection to a TV.

Turtle Beach: The updated AudioTron ($299, November 2001) receives streaming Internet radio and distributes streaming audio and MP3 files from a home PC to audio systems connected via Ethernet or HomePNA. A new OS and features are available to current AudioTron owners via free update. The Gateway-branded version, the Connected Music Player, has been discontinued.

ZAP Media: The ZapStation DMC-100 ($1499, November) is dual hard drive/streaming audio device originally announced at CEDIA. The A/V jukebox has a 30GB hard drive, single-play MP3/CD-RW compatible CD/DVD drive, and a GUI controlled from a TV screen. The subscription service originally announced has been eliminated, as has the Harman-Kardon-branded version. Home PNA-compatible, the ZapStation connects to the Web for audio streaming from ChoiceRadio.com (about 14 stations with more to come) using any ISP connected via an internal dial-up modem or Ethernet-connected external modem. It streams and rips MP3 and Windows Media Audio (WMA) and can store up to 20 hours of Web-based MPEG video (not TV programs). Twin USB ports on front and on rear jack pack support Rio 500 portable to offload files. Additional portable devices will be supported in the future.

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