CES : Sandisk unveils 'nano killer' music player

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Sandisk Corp. unveiled two new flash memory-based MP3 players Thursday at the 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show, attempting to make a dent in Apple Computer Inc.’s runaway lead in market share.

The company announced the new Sandisk Sansa e200 series players, scheduled for a March introduction in the U.S. and Europe, at a press conference in Las Vegas. With up to 6GBs of storage, the new players will square off against Apple’s new iPod nano player, which comes in similar configurations.

Every participant in the flash-memory music player market is looking up at the iPod. Apple has come to dominate the market for handheld music players over the past few years, but Sandisk, Creative Technology Ltd., and other companies are jockeying for position behind Apple and hoping to win over new music player users or disaffected iPod owners.

The Sansa e200 series is about the same length and width as the iPod nano but is slightly thicker, at 0.5 inches (1.3cm) versus the nano’s 0.27 inches. The e200 models have a 1.8-inch color screen, while the iPod nano features a 1.5-inch color screen.

The e250 model offers 2GBs of storage for a suggested retail price of US$199. A $249 model is available with 4GBs of storage, and the line tops out at 6GBs of storage for $299. For the iPod nano, two configurations are available: 2GBs of storage for $199 and 4GBs of storage for $249*, according to Apple’s Web site.

Sandisk also introduced a line of smaller flash memory music players at the press conference that, not surprisingly, resembles Apple’s iPod Shuffle device. However, the Sansa c100 series players come with color screens, addressing a common complaint about the iPod Shuffle’s lack of a display.

A 1GB Sansa c140 costs $119, while a 2GB c150 costs $169. Apple offers a 512MB iPod Shuffle for $99 and a 1GB version for $129 on its Web site.

Additionally, Sandisk announced that it will support Verizon Wireless Inc.’s new V Cast music service with new higher capacity versions of its flash-memory expansion cards. A 1GB microSD (Secure Digital) card will be available at Verizon stores in the U.S. for $119, while a 2GB miniSD card will cost $199 at retail. Verizon unveiled the music service earlier Thursday at CES.

* EDITOR’S NOTE: Apple’s Web site now reflects a price of $249 for the 4GB iPod nano.

This story, "CES : Sandisk unveils 'nano killer' music player" was originally published by PCWorld.

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