The choice of online music deliver will be mind boggling for consumers as yet another duo join the bandwagon.
Lucent Technologies has just announced that it will be working with e.Digital to develop a handheld device that will play secure music files. The Walkman-style player will be manufactured by e.Digital and use the Lucent Enhanced Perceptual Audio Coder (EPAC). It will also employ e.Digital's patented MicroOS file management system.
EPAC is a new version of the Perceptual Audio Coder - developed by Bell Labs, the research and development arm of Lucent - which is an audio compression algorithm with the highest quality audio at the lowest bit rates. At 128Kbps and a compression rate of 11:1, EPAC offers CD transparent stereo sound, claims Lucent.
An 11:1 compression rate will mean that files will be around half the size of current MP3 files.
"We are taking the current generation of handheld players to the highest levels of audio quality and design," said Joyce Eastman, director of audio for Lucent's New Ventures Group. "We have produced what we believe will be a solid design for an EPAC player that offers high levels of security with excellent sound quality."
The e.Digital badged portable player is expected to be available by christmas and will include both onboard and removable flash memory cards.
The music industry is will undoubtedly welcome the player with open arms. Lucent, a founding member of the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) said that EPAC will comply with the group?s portable guidelines for an open, secure access system for digital music which will be released this summer.
Lucent has already said EPAC will include both encryption and watermarking to protect against piracy.
"The quality of the sound that we've heard with EPAC on our hardware platform is exceptional," said Fred Falk, chief executive of e.Digital. "We know what people want in an Internet music download player: great sound in a compact device that's robust and well priced."
With Microsoft recently announcing its Windows Media Technologies 4.0 and IBM teaming up with Realnetworks the fight to become the definitive standard for delivering music over the Internet is on. MP3 is still holding its own, thanks to a hard core following of consumers.
But in the end industry watchers believe it is the heavyweight record moguls who will decide on the ultimate de facto standard that will take the music industry into the next millennium.
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