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TDK Introduces Its First Flash-Memory Portables

TDK has begun shipping its first flash-memory music portables but has delayed plans for a hard disk drive (HDD) model.

Four flash-memory portables, all shipping in October, feature 128MB or 256MB of internal memory supplemented by optional MMC or SD memory cards. The devices decode MP3 and Windows Media Audio (WMA) files and are priced from an expected everyday $99 to $189. They don’t support the WMA Digital Rights Management standard, however, so they won’t play WMA-encoded songs from authorized download sites.

The company is still considering HDD music portables but wanted to concentrate on its flash models first, a spokesman said.

All of the new portables provide MP3/WMA playback, and all but the entry-level model feature a digital FM tuner. The tuner’s music can be recorded directly to flash memory as a low-bit-rate WAV file.

The new portable line includes the Mojo 1, which integrates memory, controls and FM tuner directly into neckband-style headphones. It features 128MB of embedded memory, 25 programmable FM-tuner presets, and an audio output to share music with a second set of headphones or to play back music through a home stereo system. A single AAA alkaline battery delivers 10 hours of playback.

The three other flash-memory portables feature an outboard memory/control unit. Each doubles as a data-storage device and features voice recorder, which records in low-bit-rate WAV format.

One of the three, the Mojo 256F, also uses text-to-speech software to convert text files into speech for review. The 256F, expected to retail for an everyday $189, delivers 12 hours of listening from one AAA battery.

The $139 Mojo 128F features 128MB memory and 12 hours of playback on a single AAA alkaline battery. The opening-price Mojo X, with an estimated everyday $99, lacks FM tuner but features 128MB memory and 12 hours of playback time on one AAA.