DataPlay will unveil at the Internet World show in Los Angeles on Wednesday a quarter-size optical storage disc that contains the attributes of CD-R media and the copyright protection of audio CDs .
Steve Volk, CEO of Boulder, Colo.-based DataPlay, sees the 500MB discs replacing flash-based cards as the primary memory system for portable music players, digital cameras, handheld PCs and PDA.
In addition, the company has struck deals with the music industry that will have the discs being used for prerecorded music, replacing CDs. When DataPlay officially unveils the discs, Volk said, several music studios and consumer electronics companies will express their support for the format. He declined to name the companies prior to the announcement.
"The discs can carry all digital rights-management schemes, and the discs' ability to be copied can be set by the music company," Volk said, "which is a huge issue with the music companies."
Price is the primary benefit the discs will have over flash memory, Volk said. Each disc will cost between $5 and $10, compared to $200 for a 64MB flash card, effectively reducing the cost of a Diamond Rio MP3 player by two-thirds, he said. The disc's capacity is scaleable and can be pushed past the 1GB level.
The first hardware products to incorporate DataPlay discs will be shown at the 2001 CES. These probably will be portable Internet music players, but PC peripherals such as DataPlay readers are in the works.
The portable devices can be easily adapted to use the DataPlay discs because the micro optical engine that writes and reads the discs easily fits into the space now occupied by the flash memory apparatus, Volk said. The products will work in the same manner, allowing consumers to directly download the music onto the DataPlay disc. Each disc holds four hours of CD-quality music.