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I-Jam Plans Windows Media Portable

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. — Contending that Microsoft’s Windows Media Audio will become the dominant Internet audio format, I-Jam has developed a solid-state portable that supports only the Microsoft technology.

A 16MB version of the Win-Jam portable will be available in July at $129 to $149, and a 32MB version due in August will retail for about $179, I-Jam said. The units will be carried by Best Buy, Musicland, Sears, and other retailers and e-tailers.

WMA will become the dominant music codec for several reasons, I-Jam president Doug Marrison contended. One is the format’s inclusion in new PCs shipped with Microsoft’s Windows operating system. Another is the format’s ability to use half as much memory as MP3 while producing sound that he contended is “superior in many respects,” in part due to the inclusion of SRS image-enhancing technology.

Because WMA uses less memory, Marrison added, it’s possible to ship product with lower-capacity, lower-cost memory cards.

Citing limited demand for portables priced at $200 and up, Marrison said he shelved plans for a $279 Internet audio portable compatible with multiple audio codecs, including WMA. Multiple-codec devices are expensive, he said, because of the high-price chipsets they require.

Win-Jam will support WMA’s digital-rights-management technology, and possibly at launch, IBM’s EMMS and InterTrust’s Metatrust DRMs.