A Silicon Valley startup has produced a device that will let music lovers convert CDs into digital music files without having to use a PC.
The Tango platform from PortalPlayer is the first low-power, single-chip device to support MP3 audio encoding for direct recording of CD content without a PC, making it ideal for personal stereos and other compact system designs.
PortalPlayer was founded a year ago by former National Semiconductor executives. Its technology will allow next generation boom boxes and home stereos to translate analog music into digital as the music plays, pulling content off the internet using a telephone line.
Currently, consumers who want to convert their music into digital format must use PC software to make a copy of the CD.
The first commercial devices using the Tango platform will hit the streets late this year or early in 2001, but the company will not divulge the identity of those that have agreed to build around the chip.
Because this technology will be able to be used by people without a PC it could have a broad appeal.
Mike Feibus, principal analyst with Mercury Research, said: "As long as it's tied to computers, the digital audio market is limited to people who enjoy music and are computer savvy. That's the challenge: to break the link between their MP3 player and PC, so everyone will want the MP3 player to be their last Walkman."
According to Michael Maia, PortalPlayer's marketing vice president, the devices which will use Tango will look more like the audio systems consumers are used to, with the difference in functionality being that they will be able to play CDs, radio and several digital music formats. They will also be able to plug into a phone line to retrieve digital music from the internet.
The Tango platform includes a PP5001 SuperIntegration system-on-a-chip controller; a PP7001 Digital Media Manager application for Windows 9x PCs; and all the necessary firmware to implement mass-market products, including licensed applications and the Real-Time Operating System.
PortalPlayer also provides a development kit and reference design (PP6001) to produce systems fully compliant with standards defined by the Secure Digital Music Initiative.
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