Sony has taken the wraps off its first harddisk drive-based audio player, saying the gadget, which will be sold under its Aiwa brand-name, will be available worldwide from April.
The Giga Pavit is based on a 2GB drive. Its 2GB capacity version was launched at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (see pages 30-33 for more show stories).
The drive provides enough storage space to accommodate about 500 songs.
The device’s USB2.0 interface can transfer an hour’s worth of CD quality audio in about 18 seconds, according to Sony.
It supports MP3 format files at fixed or variable bit rate.
Two versions of the player are available: the HZ-WS2000, which has an in-line remote control in the headphone cable, and the HZ-DS2000 in which all the components are built into the main case.
The former player measures 91mm x 56mm (about the same size as a business card) and is just over a centimetre thick. The latter is slightly larger at 94.5mm x 60mm x 18.4mm.
The Giga Pavit’s launch a week after Apple Computer announced its iPod mini music player, which has double the storage capacity, makes comparisons between the two almost inevitable.
In a press release, Sony took the first stab and claimed, without naming the iPod mini, that the Giga Pavit is both the world’s thinnest and lightest hard-disk based audio player.
On face value, that appears correct; however, a closer look reveals at least grounds for an appeal from the iPod’s legions of fans.
Sony’s comparison is based on the HZ-WS2000 remote control version of the Giga Pavit in which the main display and controls are separate from the main body of the player, compared to the all-in-one iPod mini.
A more meaningful comparison might be between the bulkier HZ-DS2000 all-in-one version of the Giga Pavit and the iPod mini. In that case, the Apple device comes out on top, being lighter and occupying almost half the volume of the Aiwa player.
Added together, the 18gm remote control unit takes the total weight of the HZ-WS2000 to 86gm, which is lighter than the iPod mini but heavier than the Digital Networks Rio Nitrus music player.
The Giga Pavit is due for sale in Japan and major international markets in April and will cost about $US426, Sony said.
A PC running Windows XP, 2000 or ME with USB interface is required. The device won’t work with Apple Macs, according to the company.