HipZip To Lead Iomega To CE Category

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New York - Iomega took its first step toward reinventing itself as a consumer electronics company yesterday with the release of the HipZip digital audio player, but has no plans to abandon its roots as a removable storage supplier.

The HipZip is based around a 40MB PocketZip disk, a rebranded Clik! disk, and is being positioned as an economical alternative to the flash memory-based players that dominate the market. The player carries a $299 suggested retail price and each PocketZip disk is expected to cost about $10. The player uses Microsoft's Windows Media Player 7 as the default software, which can compress the data twice so a 40MB disk can hold 80MB, or 80 minutes, of music.

Iomega will follow up the HipZip with a series of products, both new and additions to the HipZip family, which may include adding wireless Internet connectivity and video capabilities. The company has firm plans to add an AM/FM receiver to the HipZip in the next year, according to an Iomega spokesman. All these functions can be controlled with the bundled Media Player 7 software.

While Iomega does want consumers to view it as something more than a storage company, it does plan to make a few moves before the end of the year in its core storage product categories. A company spokesman said a new CD-RW drive featuring a cooler, consumer oriented design is forthcoming. In addition a deal will be struck with a content provider to start selling Zip disks with pre-recorded content.

Pre-recorded music and audio on PocketZip and legacy 100MB and 250MB Zip disks also will be sold through deals Iomega has struck with EMI records and I-JAM Multimedia.

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