October 12, 2004 10:01 AM PDT

Virgin takes on iPod

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Virgin Electronics unveiled on Tuesday a digital audio player with a 5GB hard disk, in a bid to penetrate the market dominated by Apple Computer's iPod.

The $249 Virgin Player, weighing 3.1 ounces, supports MP3 and WMA music formats and is capable of working with various digital music services, the company said.


The 5GB Virgin Player
includes an FM tuner.

The device has separate buttons for volume, skipping to the next song, and pausing the music, and features the ability to create playlists. The storage is sufficient for 1,200 MP3 songs, or around 80 compact discs, it said.

Apple's $249 iPod Mini has a 4GB hard drive, can store 1,000 songs and weighs 3.6 ounces.

The device comes bundled with the company's music software and service, Virgin Digital, which sells song downloads for 99 cents, or monthly subscriptions for $7.99. Virgin said people can also select songs from other music services that use WMA or MP3 formats.

The company also announced a new line of portable speakers that work with the player.

Both the player and the speakers are set for release later this month.

Software, hardware and consumer electronics companies currently dominate the online music market. But Virgin Electronics, the electronics arm within the Virgin Group, hopes to take advantage of being part of an offline music retailing giant.

18 comments

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Some Concerns...
OK.. i haven't researched this product yet.. but i have owned a Virgin mobile phone before.. and one thing that struck me was how *PROPRIETARY* they are.. there was no way to download your own games or ringers.. you had to buy what Virgin offered (and at several bucks for basically a midi a few seconds long you were totally getting ripped off) The phone even had the capability to support internet browsing... but Virgin had disabled it!

I guess what i'm worried about is that Virgin is going to make you buy songs from their company (or maybe even ones that they have contracts with...) and that consumers won't be able to load their own songs from their own collections...

I don't know that they're going to do this.. i'm just *concerned*

Sincerly,
Christine Margaux
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Open Standards!?
Since when is WMA an Open Standard?
Posted by Greg Sparkman (82 comments )
Reply Link Flag
OGG????
Where's the OGG support???
For that matter.. where's the OGG support in other players? :(

*sigh* now we see the supression of open-source projects inherent in the system! Now we see the supression of open-source projects inherent in the system!

*sigh*... whatever happened to the 1984 Apple commercial.. breaking from the norm and doing somthing completely new and different.. OGG support in iPods? of course not **rolls eyes**
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
You're right
Thanks for pointing this out. We've fixed the mistake in the story. Microsoft's WMA, like MP3 and Apple Computer's FairPlay DRM, is a proprietary format. Ogg Vorbis is a rare example of an open audio standard, but as others have pointed out, few products support it.
Posted by (8 comments )
Link Flag
Too bad it looks like a typical PC product
I love the wanna-be Apple-destroyers come to market with products that look awful. Have the designers of PC products learned nothing from apple? Aesthetics matter!! The virgin player looks like a portable radio from 1987 - I'd rather take a hit on capacity and have an iPod mini which looks great and no doubt offers a better designed UI. Sheesh - come virgin - outsource design to IDEO or someone if you can't come up with something decent yourself.
Posted by dreadsword (17 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wow! WMA Support!!!
With open standards like WMA files masses will flock to this ugly
piece of sh#t!
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
The exact opposite of an Open Standard
Seriously, I don't know how anyone can report to the public that WMA is an "open standard." Being a proprietary MS format, it's quite clearly the exact opposite.

And even if it was a Virgin rep saying so, CNet still has a journalistic obligation to point out such obvious falsehoods. Otherwise, they have absolutely no credibility.

There should be a correction.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Corrected
You're right. Thanks to you and other readers for pointing this out. We've fixed the mistake in the story. Microsoft's WMA, like MP3 and Apple Computer's FairPlay DRM, is a proprietary format. Ogg Vorbis is a rare example of an open audio standard, but as others have pointed out, few products support it.
Posted by (8 comments )
Link Flag
WMA is NOT an open standard
It is microsoft's proprietary format for DRM - they only
have an open license. And we all know how well MS did
after entering the browser arena late, then pounded
Netscape with IE, which created it's own standards and now
hasn't been updated in 2 years... because they have no idea
how to innovate on their own. IE is now the E-ticket to
spyware/viruses and all the stuff no one wants on the PC's.
Posted by (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You're right
Thanks for pointing this out. We've fixed the mistake in the story. Microsoft's WMA, like MP3 and Apple Computer's FairPlay DRM, is a proprietary format. Ogg Vorbis is a rare example of an open audio standard, but as others have pointed out, few products support it.
Posted by (8 comments )
Link Flag
U've GOT 2 B KIDDING!
Everything about that product, and the article simply generated
one reaction in my brain ... WHAT the !@#$$

A slightly larger number of songs and lighter weight, both of
which aren't really offering anything of value to the consumer.
Where is the form, where is the ease of use, where is the
elegance. Who in the world would choose a product that they
would be ashamed to show?

Oh yeah ... and please make sure that we don't mistake OPEN
with Microsoft again.
Posted by Thomas, David (1947 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The iPOD has to much steam
The ipod has become the standard. It is not inbeatable but it has 3 things going for it
1. User interface by far the easiest
2. iTunes
3. Looks

the only con is it is pricey...
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Nice effort but will hardly take on iPod
It takes more than just having good storage capacity and a cheap pricetag to be successful product. It figures that a PC product would completely underestimate design and usability, This thing looks like a garage door opener. The controls look very cheezy and not easy to use.

But that is what PC companies do I guess, make a sub-standard copy of someone elses idea and mass produce it, just look at Microsoft.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
who came up with THAT business plan
gimme a break.
why don't they come out with a new dvd player
that plays their own format of dvd...:P
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Virgin is basically a 'generic' brand
I read that Virgin mostly puts their name on products designed and offered by large assembly houses from Taiwan. I don't think they do much designing on their own... and it shows!
Posted by (61 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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