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MP3 Makers To Apple: Bring It On

Take that, Apple. Features and capabilities from Apple’s new iPod lineup will turn up shortly in MP3 players from such competing suppliers as Samsung and SanDisk.

Samsung, for example, begins shipping this month of a pair of new MP3 players that include its first model with iPhone- and iPod Touch-like “motion user interface.” For its part, SanDisk plans October availability of the Sansa View, a slim 0.32-inch-thick video-playing MP3 player with embedded 8GB and 16GB flash memory at respective suggested retails of $149 and $199. Both SanDisk models support optional 8GB microSD/microSDHC cards and deliver more memory capacity for the dollar than the 4GB video-capable Nano at $149 and the 8GB video Nano for $199.

In the Samsung lineup, the motion-UI model is the flash-memory YP-P2 in 4GB and 8GB variations. It’s also the company’s first video-playing MP3 player with widescreen display and its first with the ability to reorient video for horizontal or vertical viewing.

The YP-P2 and the 4GB YP-T10 both feature Bluetooth 2.0 to enable multiple Bluetooth-equipped headphones to listen to the music. Prices were unavailable.

The 3-ounce P2 features a 3-inch 16:9 widescreen touchscreen that displays 30 fps video and features motion UI for all navigation functions. Hard buttons on the side of the player are used for power, volume and hold functions. The screen’s resolution is 480 by 272 (WQVGA).

The 3.9-inch by 2.1-inch by 0.4-inch device plays MP3 and protected WMA files and is compatible with WMA subscription downloads. It plays video in the Windows Media Video 9 (WMV9) and MPEG-4 formats. Other feature include FM radio, JPEG viewer, voice recording, sleep timer and a lithium-polymer battery that plays up to 35 hours of music or up to five hours of video. Bluetooth 2.0 enables up to three Bluetooth headphones simultaneously reproduce the P2’s audio.

Samsung’s YP-T10 with 2-inch 4:3 screen and 4GB embedded memory plays audio and video in the same formats as the P2 but weighs only 1.5 ounces. Its battery delivers slightly less playback time of up to 30 hours of music or up to four hours of video. Its Bluetooth 2.0 lets only two Bluetooth headphones simultaneously reproduce the T10’s audio.

For its part, SanDisk expects its View, unlike ABC’s View, to deliver quality video programming. It features the Sansa line’s largest screen to date and offers more embedded memory than previous Sansa models, the company said. The scroll-wheel-equipped View features 2.4-inch 320 by 240-pixel widescreen display compared to the Nano’s 2-inch 320 by 240 display. In other differences, it accepts removable memory cards and features FM tuner and voice recorder. It also is compatible with such music-download and download-subscription services as Rhapsody To Go, Napster, eMusic and others.

The View plays video natively at up to 30 fps in the H.264, WMV and MPEG-4 formats, and downloadable Sansa Media Converter software allows transcoding of multiple formats, including DivX, to one of View’s native formats. The device plays audio natively in the MP3, WAV and protected and unprotected WMA formats. It also displays photo JPEGS at up to 16 megapixels.

At January’s International CES, SanDisk unveiled an 8GB View portable media player with a 4-inch widescreen, but the company decided to shelve that model to bring an 8GB and 16GB version to market with a smaller 2.4-inch widescreen, putting them in the category of video-playing MP3 player.

The original also promised compatibility with multiple authorized sources of protected video downloads and the ability to play protected Disney movies sold on SD Cards called Max Clips.