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Haier Enters PMP Market

New York — Haier America entered the U.S. portable media player market with a trio of Wi-Fi-equipped models capable of wireless access to the Rhapsody subscription-streaming and -download site.

The devices, all in the Ibiza series, also deliver Wi-Fi 802.11b/g access to 20 free Rhapsody streaming channels in encrypted and unencrypted home networks and hot spots The top model adds stereo Bluetooth for use with

Bluetooth headphones and to stream music to Bluetooth-equipped shelf systems and speaker systems.

The trio consists of a $329-suggested 30GB model with Bluetooth, a $249 8GB flash-memory model and a $229 4GB model. They’re available in Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart in Puerto Rico and on, but Haier is in negotiations with other retailers with other locations as well, said VP/GM Charles Green.

The devices also deliver wireless access to more than 1,000 preset audio podcasts and some video podcasts, he said. Thee units also feature a wireless Web browser, though Web browsing is not a primary function because of the small 2.5-inch QVGA 4:3 screens, Green said. Feature and service updates can also be downloaded wirelessly.

The devices play video in the MPEG-4, protected and unprotected WMV, AVI, and H.264 formats. Music can be stored in MP3. WAV, AAC and protected and unprotected WMA formats. The units also feature FM tuner.