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TDK Drives For Diversification

Port Washington, N.Y. -- Recordable media manufacturer TDK Electronics will ship its first audio CD recorder in November and first computer speakers in January as part of an effort to reposition itself as a complete provider of digital recording and playback solutions.

The company's first two TDK-branded consumer hardware products, both internal CD-R/RW drives for PCs, were launched earlier this year.

"Almost our full retail base" has committed to purchasing the audio CD-recorder, a $549-suggested-retail dual-tray model, said product manager Patricia O'Donnell Smith.

TDK's recorder will be one of a growing number of home CD recorders offering 4x CD-R/RW recording speed. Harman Kardon already offers one, with two new ones due in the fall; Aiwa plans September shipments of a model; and NAD plans November shipments.

TDK's move into recording hardware is a natural for the company because its parent, TDK Corp. of Tokyo, already manufactures many digital-recorder components, including the magnetic heads for hard drives that read TDK's blank media.

TDK also makes integrated circuits, ceramic capacitors, deflection yoke cores for TV and CRT screens, and other hardware components. In fact, blank media accounted for only about a quarter of the parent company's annual sales in the fiscal year ending March 2000.

In a recent financial report, the company said it expected the industry's worldwide sales of recordable media to be flat at best during the fiscal year ending March 2000.

TDK's expertise in CD-R/RW media and burner technology, said Smith, "makes us uniquely qualified to design the ultimate home CD recorder." TDK engineers, she said, "know more about user needs and the interface between blank media and high-speed CD recorders than anyone else in the industry."

The DA-3826 CD-recorder delivers the 4x recording speed of full CDs and individual tracks, 24-bit/96kHz D/A and A/D converters, sampling-rate converter, automatic and manual track indexing when recording analog sources, and a CD Sync function that automatically begins recording when a digital source begins playing. The recorder also records HDCD coding from HDCD CDs.

In computer speakers, the company will launch two three-piece systems whose satellites use NXT's flat-panel technology. "We've tweaked the technology to be more pleasing to the ear," in part by deepening bass response, Smith said. A pipe-like woofer module is suitable for desktop placement, she noted.

The two systems will retail for a suggested $200 for a 60-watt model and $249 for the 100-watt system.

The company's first consumer hardware product, the VeloCD CD-RW drive, was introduced in January. It reads, or rips, CDs at 20x speed and burns CD-R discs at 8x speed (4x speed for CD-RW discs). It's bundled with PC software that converts CD audio tracks into Wav, MP3, Windows Media Audio or Liquid Audio files.

At a suggested $399, TDK's second CD-RW drive is faster, ripping at 24x speed and burning CD-R discs at 12x speed (10x for CD-RW if special high-speed rewritable CD-RW discs).

It also features fail-safe write protection, enabling PC users to burn a disc while performing another task on the PC, Smith said. The feature prevents a recording session from failing by automatically pausing, then resuming, the recording process when a recording buffer is about to run out of digital music data.

TDK is designing the hardware and supplying key components.

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