Korean company claims lightest MP3 player yet

A South Korean company has developed what is one of the smallest and lightest MP3 players to date.

The circular EMP-Z is 42 millimeters in diameter, 10 millimeters thick and weighs a scant 15 grams. Its size means that the device is small enough and light enough to be attached to a chain and worn around the neck as a pendant.

The player was co-developed by two South Korean electronics companies, EraTech and Station Z. The collaboration involved Station Z designing the circuit board of the player and EraTech handling the design, manufacture and. The project grew out of an association between the owners of the companies, who studied at university together, said Julie Hwang, a spokeswoman for Seoul-based EraTech.

Two versions of the EMP-Z are available. One contains 128M bytes of memory, or about enough space for between 30 and 40 average MP3 files, while the second version contains double the amount of memory. To keep the size small a memory card slot was not built into the product so the memory size is fixed when it is made and cannot be expanded.

Another concession to size is the lack of a USB (Universal Serial Bus) connector on the player but the company has come up with a way to send the USB signal through the standard headphone jack, via an adapter, that makes a USB connection possible. The EMP-Z is compatible with machines running Windows 98 or higher and Mac OS version 9 or higher.

The player runs on a coin-type Lithium Ion rechargeable battery and Eratech says a full charge provides enough power for about 8 hours of use.

It will be available from August and the 128M-byte model is expected to have a retail price of around US$120, said Hwang. Availability around the world will be determined by retailers and OEM manufacturers who will rebadge the product. The company says interest from overseas is strong and it has already received an order for 20,000 players from a German company.