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Disney Enters PMP Market, Expands Player Selection

Burbank, Calif. – Disney Electronics launched its first A/V-playing portable media player (PMP) and first prerecorded movies on flash-memory cards for the 9- to 12-year-old tween market.

The company also upped the memory capacity of its Mix Stick MP3 player to 512MB from 128MB and added a second MP3 player SKU, the Mix Micro. All devices are available in multiple Disney-themed styles.

Disney entered the MP3 player market last year in time for the Christmas selling season, when it also launched prerecorded music for tweens on SD memory cards. The content of the flash-memory albums was targeted to tweens and parents who didn’t have time to download or rip music for their kids.

The PMP, called the Disney Mix Max, will be available in October at a suggested $99 with 2.2-inch color LCD screen, 512MB of embedded memory, and SD card slot for memory cards up to 2GB. The slot also accepts full-length prerecorded movies that Disney will offer on SD cards that it calls Max Clips. The $19.99-suggested movies, from Disney unit Buena Vista Home Entertainment, are encoded in Windows Media Audio (WMA) format and protected with San Disk’s Trusted Flash digital-rights-management (DRM) technology, which locks the movies to the cards. Six tween-targeted movies shipping at launch are “High School Musical,” “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen,” “Cheetah Girls,” “Lizzie McGuire,” “Cadet Kelly,” and “Ella Enchanted.” More titles are due in early 2007.

The video quality of the prerecorded movies is 30 fps at 220 by 176 resolution, which matches the PMP’s display resolution.

Disney chose the dual-DRM strategy because Trusted Flash support sales of prerecorded video on flash-memory cards, whereas the Windows DRM is designed for authorized download services, said Chris Heatherly, global electronics VP at Disney Consumer Products.

The PMP also plays music in MP3 and protected and unprotected Windows Media Audio (WMA) formats, and it accepts full-length prerecorded albums sold by Disney on MMC cards. The prerecorded cards, called Mix Clips, and encoded in unprotected WMA format. They’re also targeted to tweens with music supplied by Walt Disney Records and Hollywood Records.

Other PMP features include rechargeable battery delivering up to two hours of video playback time or up to eight hours of music playback, jpeg picture viewer, and Windows Media Audio 10 player for compatibility with authorized subscription music-download services.

The PMP is available in 10 styles, including two floral-themed “Tinker Bell” styles, a “Cheetah Girls” style, two “High School Musical” models, and two contemporary styles in ice blue or silver chrome.

The upgraded music-playing Mix Stick and the new Mix Micro are also available in multiple styles. They play MP3 files and protected and protected WMA files. The upgraded Mix Stick at a suggested $49.99 now incorporates 512MB of embedded memory and continues to offer an SD/MMC card slot. New styles include “High School Musical,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” and “A Nightmare Before Christmas.”

The Mix Stick will be joined by the $19.99-syggested Mix Micro music player, which is only 2.5 by 1.5 inches, lacks embedded memory, but includes SD/MMC slot and space for a single AAA battery.

To accompany the MP3 player launch, Disney is expanding its roster of prerecorded $14.99-suggested Mix Clips to 12 titles from four, including the first from tween-star label Hollywood Records, whose artists include Hilary Duff and Jesse McCartney.

New titles include the soundtracks from “High School Musical” and “Cheetah Girls,” Hilary Duff’s “Most Wanted,” and “Disney’s Greatest Hits Vol. 1.”