MP3tunes on Thursday introduced
MP3beamer, a new music appliance that enables you organize your music in one location, then listen to it anywhere you want to — over a computer, through a media receiver, through iTunes, or even a PDA. It costs US$399.
MP3tunes describes MP3beamer as a “digital music recorder.” The device is designed to play MP3 files, but MP3tunes says it has the ability to transcode tracks from other formats as well. It is restricted to music that doesn’t have Digital Rights Management (DRM) encryption, which means it won’t play music bought through the iTunes Music Store, for example.
The MP3beamer appliance is a compact off-the-shelf PC computer running the Linux-based Linspire operating system. It’s equipped with a 10/100-megabit Ethernet interface and has been tested with some home stereo media receivers, including SMC’s EZ Stream Wireless Audio Adapter and Linksys’ WMLS11B. It also supports Universal Plug and Play (UPnP).
MP3beamer comes equipped with a built-in flash card reader and USB 2.0 interface so you can use any USB drive or commonly used flash media to transfer music to it; it’s also equipped with a CD-ROM drive, so you can rip music you have on audio CDs directly to the MP3beamer if you prefer, using a Linspire-based application called Lsongs as the music manager. It has an 80GB hard disk drive.
MP3beamer can also synchronize music over a network, although that piece of it isn’t yet available for Mac OS X — MP3tunes says it’s coming soon. The device is visible on a network to Macs and PCs running iTunes, just as if another iTunes user had published their library. What’s more, MP3beamer also supports a Web and Java-based interfaces.
MP3tunes is the new commercial digital music download service founded by Michael Robertson, former CEO of MP3.com. The service
launched in February 2005
and features hundreds of thousands of songs from independent artists and record labels in MP3 format, made available without Digital Rights Management (DRM) encryption. MP3beamer is the first hardware device that MP3tunes has introduced.
Not coincidentally, Robertson also founded Linspire Inc., producers of the Linspire operating system that powers MP3beamer. Linspire gained public attention in 2004 when it changed its name to Linspire Inc. from Lindows Inc. following numerous trademark lawsuits in the United States and in international courts filed by Microsoft Corp. The company sells the Linspire operating system from its Web site and vets it for use on inexpensive pre-configured desktop and laptop computers available from various retailers.
MP3tunes is also offering do-it-yourselfers a software-only version of MP3beamer — it costs US$69.95, and it includes the server software, music sync software and the Linspire operating system, so you’ll need a PC-compatible computer to install it on.