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'New iPod' available in Chocolate

Although not as tasty

It's been available in the UK for some time, and now US mobile phone users will soon be offered LG's new mobile phone, dubbed 'Chocolate'. And network operator Verizon Wireless is marketing it as a digital-music player that will challenge Apple's ubiquitous iPod.

With its circular scroll pad, the device looks rather like the iPod MP3 player, adding another player to an increasingly crowded market. Microsoft recently announced that it will soon release a digital music player called Zune.

Verizon's Chocolate will differ from both products in that it uses wireless links both to download and to play music, supporting a Bluetooth-enabled headset. The device also doubles as a mobile phone, with 3G (third-generation) features such as games, music videos, television clips, GPS navigation and a camera.

The device has comparable storage to Apple's 1GB iPod shuffle or 2GB nano designs. With its expandable memory port, the Chocolate could store up to 1,000 songs on a 2GB microSD memory card.

"While this may not be the first product of its kind, the idea of blending a phone and a music player makes sense. It looks sort of like a thick iPod with a phone, stores 1,000 songs and has a cool name, Chocolate. This product should be hottest among young adults," said Jeff Kagan, a telecommunications industry analyst.

Consumer electronics makers have been talking about convergence for years, as they launch products that combine the features of PDAs, mobile phones, video game players and cameras. Since many users carry several of those devices at once, Verizon's Chocolate could be popular merely by reducing their load.

"We carry too many devices, and if a manufacturer can do a good job of blending multiple devices into one, it should be popular," Kagan said.

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