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Dell gets musical

PC firm launches audio download service

Dell has released details about its digital download service and Digital Jukebox music player, due to launch later today.

The Dell DJ music player will come with a 15GB hard drive. A second version with a 20GB hard drive will also be available. Hitachi's 1.8in Travelstar hard drive will be used in the new music players, Dell said.

The 15GB version will be priced at $249 (£147), while the 20GB version will cost $329 (£149) when it goes on sale today through Dell's website. The Dell DJ weighs 7.6oz (212.8g), and will play music continuously for 16 hours, according to the firm.

Apple was one of the first companies to release a music player with a hard drive, and the first to enjoy widespread success with the device. Apple's iPod music players come in 10GB, 20GB and 40GB versions, and weigh less than the Dell DJ. Prices start at $299 (£176) for the 10GB model.

Dell's music download service will come through a partnership with Musicmatch, which offers 250,000 songs for $0.99 (about 50p) each, or complete albums from artists such as Dido and 50 Cent for $9.99 (about £6) or higher.

Songs will be available in the MP3 or WMA (Windows media audio) format. A version of Apple's iTunes service for Windows users launched earlier this month, but allows Windows users to download songs only in the M4P format, also known as AAC (advanced audio coding). The M4P file extension was developed by Apple as DRM (digital rights management) technology for iTunes, and songs created in that file format will not play on portable devices other than the iPod.

The Musicmatch service uses the DRM technology within the WMA format to limit the number of times that a song can be ripped to a CD or transferred to portable music players that support the WMA format.

Both the iPod and the Dell DJ will play the MP3 files that users have assembled by ripping their CD collections or downloading songs from file-sharing sites.

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