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Motorola, Compaq Closing In On Hard-Drive-Based Jukebox Launches

Motorola and Compaq are getting closer to introducing hard-drive-based audio jukeboxes intended for home A/V systems.

Compaq’s first product, the iPAQ Music Center, is now due July 15, later than the originally planned March, and the company has revealed a suggested retail of $799. The Music Center is a hard-drive-based audio recorder and streaming Internet radio.

The device also features internal audio CD drive and HomePNA 2.0 connectivity to a potential future companion device, which could remotely access the Music Center from another room and feed music to a connected audio system.

The Music Center and a planned Kenwood server are based on OpenGlobe’s Internet-enabled Digital Audio Component (iDAC) platform, but both companies are implementing different iDAC feature sets.

For its part, Motorola announced plans to incorporate Simple Devices’ streaming audio software in future set-top cable-TV boxes, which will also deliver cable-delivered HDTV and broadband Internet access.

During the NCTA’s Cable 2001 show in Chicago, Motorola unveiled two set-top cable boxes with hard-drive PVRs and one set-top that accepts an optional PVR. Due in the fourth quarter to cable operators, the devices could be equipped with Simple Devices’ streaming-audio technology to store downloaded audio content, which could be accessed wirelessly from a SimpleFi “digital audio receiver,” presumably connected to a home audio system.

As for Compaq’s multizone device, it will store MP3 music files on an internal 20GB hard drive, and it can be upgraded via potential future downloads to support additional codecs. Music can be ripped at 6x-7x speed from an internal CD drive or in real time from external devices such as turntables and CD changers. The drive will also play data CDs burned with MP3 music.

Compaq’s device also streams Windows Media Audio (WMA) music directly from the Web via an internal 56K modem or Ethernet-connected broadband modem. Initially, the device will stream audio from Radio Free Virgin, which broadcasts 43 genres of music over the Internet, OpenGlobe said. Radio Free Virgin replaces the Kerbango Tuning Service, which was shut down by parent 3Com. Later, through software upgrades, users will be able to access additional streaming sites.

Through a GUI on a TV screen, users can sort through MP3 songs and the names of Internet radio stations.

The device also transfers songs to Compaq’s PA-1 portable MP3 player and to the Rio 600, but support for additional models could be added.