German company TrekStor is bringing its brand of flash-memory MP3 players, external hard disk drives and USB flash memory to North America through Data Station, an independent marketing company that in recent weeks began selling through J&R and Amazon.
TrekStor, which bills itself as a "storage company," launched its first products in Europe in 2001, expanded distribution into the Middle East and generated about $233 million in revenues in its most recent fiscal year, said Hana Arad, owner of DataStation and GI Tech, a company that distributes PC accessories and printer supplies mainly to government agencies.
In Germany, TrekStor enjoys the top dollar share in each of its three product segments, engineers all its products and operates its own assembly lines in China and Germany, Arad said.
The company claims its devices offer more features and capacity than competing models and touts a quality story that ensures low return rates. All of its products are compatible with Windows- and Linux-based PCs and Macs.
Five SKUs of flash-memory MP3 players, each available in multiple capacities, include versions with up to 2GB embedded capacity. One model, the aluminum-clad i.Beat drive, plugs directly into a USB 2.0 port to transfer music from a PC and features SD/MMC card slot to expand on its embedded memory, which ranges from 128MB to 1GB.
All of the MP3 players' firmware can be upgraded, and they feature USB 2.0; built-in voice recorder; USB mass-storage capability; and playback of MP3, WAV and WMA files. The WMA files included protected WMA files downloaded from a la carte and subscription-download sites. Some models add FM radio and OLED display. Some versions are bundled with Sennheiser earphones, and some use a single AAA battery, delivering up to 12 to 16 hours of operating time in the i.Beat jess and i.Beat jump. One model, the i.Beat vision, adds picture viewer and rechargeable battery.
In USB 2.0-connected HDDs, 17 SKUs include a mix of 3.5-inch models for desktops and laptops and 2.5-inch models for laptops. The models stand out because all feature rugged aluminum chassis, solid-state cooling and included carry case. The 2.5-inch models come with Y-connection cable to connect to two USB ports simultaneously, accelerating the transfer of data from a battery-operated laptop, Arad said.
The 3.5-inch maxi y.uh is available in five capacities from 80GB to 320GB, all with front-panel USB 2.0 hub with three USB inputs. The 320GB version retails for an everyday $199 at J&R.
In USB flash memory, the company offers models up to 2GB, some with aluminum housing and LED indicators, write protection and the ability to be booted. They come with USB extension cable. One comes with leather housing instead of aluminum. A 1GB model has retailed on Amazon at $43.99. The suggested retail of a 2GB model is $139.
The company is targeting consumer electronics specialty stores, online retailers and value-added resellers in its initial rollout. It will use distributors to target VARs that in turn target such channels as corporate accounts. It will use reps to target major CE retailers and CE distributors. The premium market is another target.