October 28, 2004 5:57 AM PDT

Gateway to tap out photo, MP3 player beat

Gateway is joining the band of computer makers selling hard-drive-based digital audio players, but its riff adds miniaturization and a color screen for displaying photos.

The company on Thursday announced its $249.99 Gateway MP3 Photo Jukebox player, which has a 4GB capacity, a 1.6-inch display and a rechargeable battery that can be replaced.

The player can connect to PCs and directly to digital cameras over a USB 2.0 port. Photos can be viewed individually or in a slide show.

Gateway is taking preorders and will begin selling the device in mid-November. The MP3 Photo Jukebox could be in retail stores as soon as the first quarter of 2005, Gateway said.

iPod, you 'Pod, everybody 'Pods...
Apple Computer has been very successful with its iPod devices and iTunes music download service, leading to imitation devices from many other companies, such as Dell, Sony and Gateway. Hewlett-Packard is selling an HP-branded version of the iPod device.

Gateway's mini player, at 3.8 by 2.3 by 0.7 inches, and weighing 3.4 ounces, is roughly the same size and weight as Apple Computer's iPod Mini, but that device does not display photos.

Apple announced on Tuesday new iPods with color screens that can show digital photos. The new iPods are bigger than Gateway's device but also have much higher storage capacities--40GB and 60GB--as well as higher prices, $499 and $599.

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