MP3 Player Claims "PC-Free" Downloads

Ithaca, New York-based Netdrives says it has introduced the world's first MP3 player capable of playing MP3 audio files without using a personal computer. Called the Brujo (Spanish for "wizard" or "sorcerer"), the machine has a built-in CD player that can play more than 11 hours of MP3 music. The device can be connected directly to any home stereo system, and also works as a normal CD player.

Company president Jennifer Wolfe says that the machine advances the audio experience; with it, "MP3s are no longer limited to computer speakers or the headphones of a portable player." She also believes the device will expand the music market. "The Brujo is spurring the evolution of MP3 by allowing the music to be heard by a wider audience," she says.

The Brujo, which can be purchased directly from Netdrives, was unveiled at the Interactive Music Xpo in New York. Although Netdrives claims the Brujo is "the first MP3/CD player for home stereo systems," ReQuest announced a similar product more than two months ago—the AudioReQuest, a $600 recorder/player that offers up to 150 hours of music-recording capability. Jon Iverson covered the story here on June 21. NetDrives points out that they are actually shipping product.

Startups like Netdrives are not the only companies moving into the MP3 market. Philips Electronics announced August 12 that it will introduce an SDMI-compliant MP3 player by the first quarter of 2000, possibly in time to demonstrate it at the Consumer Electronics Show, in early January. Philips' device—no model name or number has been designated—will be all solid-state, with no moving parts, and will be "seamlessly integrated" with RealNetwork's RealJukebox music-management software, according to news reports.