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Linux-based PMP targets Rhapsody

Nov 26, 2007 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive
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Haier America is shipping a WiFi-enabled portable media player (PMP) based on Linux. The “Ibiza Rhapsody” has a 30GB hard drive, and is designed to work with the Rhapsody digital music service, AOL Video, and other digital content services.

(Click here for a larger view of the Ibiza Rhapsody)

First demonstrated at last January's CES as the SmartScreens Media Device, the Ibiza Rhapsody is based on a Linux implementation from Varia Mobile called SmartScreens. The SmartScreens mobile application framework evolved from the pioneering Wildseed fashion phone, the first Linux-based mobile phone ever sold in the U.S. The stack is claimed to feature a powerful skinning engine, along with customizable media applications.


Ibiza Rhapsody

The Ibiza is said to “seamlessly” integrate wireless access, media playback, and Bluetooth audio capability (30GB model only). It also integrates an FM radio.

The 4.9-ounce (140-gram), 2.4 x 0.5 x 4.1-inch Ibiza is equipped with a 2.5-inch, 320 x 240-pixel QVGA LCD display with 65,000 colors. The battery provides three hours of video playback and over 10 hours for audio, says Haier. The device is said to support MPEG4, WMV, M4V, AVI, H.264, and MPG video files, and MP3, WMA, WAV, and AAC audio files.


Ibiza Rhapsody: the full package

Haier's PMP includes a 30-day free trial to the $15-a-month Rhapsody music service, and offers free access to streaming on-demand user generated videos on AOL Video, says Haier. It also supports thousands of automatically updated podcasts. Although the device includes a mini-USB 2.0 port for recharging or downloading from a PC, Haier pitches the WiFi capability as a way to free users from having to hook up their players to PCs to download content.

Stated Michael Jemal, President and CEO of Haier America, “Freedom from the PC is what will drive this market in the months to come.”

Early reviewers have admired the Ibiza Rhapsody's interface, and especially its integrated Web browser designed to explore Rhapsody's catalog. However, others have noted that the device does not make sense unless one subscribes to Rhapsody. Some have found the device to be too large and heavy, and priced high compared to its closest rival, the Microsoft Zune. Others, however, have noted that although the Zune offers WiFi connectivity, it does not allow WiFi browsing of Rhapsody's catalog.

Availability

The 30GB Ibiza Rhapsody is immediately available for $330, but it's already selling for $300 at its official reseller, Amazon.com. Flash-memory versions should be available before the holidays, says Haier, for $230 (4GB) and $250 (8GB) respectively. More details may be available at Haier's Ibiza Rhapsody web page, here.

Varia Mobile's SmartScreen stack may also be available separately. The venerable stack was acquired by AOL in 2005, but sold off this year to a “third party,” according to a blog post at PaidContent.


 
This article was originally published on LinuxDevices and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit LinuxToday.com for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

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