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Sony readies hard-drive based Jukebox

Device has a music library, CD ripping and access to online music services

Sony will launch a new version of its network jukebox in March in Japan, the company says. The device is designed to replicate many of the digital music functions offered by personal computers, such as a music library, CD ripping and the ability to purchase music from online services.

The NAS-A10 contains a 40GB hard drive, a CD drive, AM and FM radio and a MemoryStick slot. Users can add music to the hard drive-based library from CDs or downloads from the 'Any Music' service in Japan and also by connecting the unit with the company's Network Walkman or NetMD Mini Disc players.

The jukebox also allows music stored on the disk to be transferred to either of the two prior portable music players or onto a MemoryStick Duo memory card for playback in a device such as the PlayStation Portable (PSP).

While the system supports playback of MP3 content stored on CDs or MemoryStick cards, it won't allow users to store or playback MP3 files from the hard drive. These functions only support audio stored as a PCM file or encoded in Sony's proprietary ATRAC3 format.

That's because the system's concept is that users will start with music obtained via a download site or ripped by the unit from a CD, says Yuki Kobayashi, a spokesperson for Sony in Tokyo.

The lack of MP3 support mirrors a restriction that was present in early versions of Sony's Network Walkman. That restriction has since been dropped and Sony now offers users the ability to upgrade previously purchased players to support MP3.

When ripping CDs, the system will automatically connect with the Gracenote CD database service and attempt to download track details for the CD. These details will then be saved with the music.

Another new feature on the device is support for version 1.0 of the DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) specification that means the unit can play music stored on a personal computer that is streamed across the home network.

Compared to the previous mode, the NAS-A10 is also significantly cheaper. It will go on sale on March 15 in Japan and will cost around $598 (£315). The NAS-A1 cost about $850 (£449). Sony has no plans to sell it outside of Japan.

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