updated 01:40 pm EDT, Wed June 14, 2006
MusicGremlin takes on iPod
MusicGremlin today unveiled a competitive portable music player coupled with an integrated online digital music service that stands to threaten Apple's iPod/iTunes dominance. MusicGremlin has partnered with Amazon.com in its launch, offering both an iTunes-like pay-for-play system allowing consumers to purchase individual tracks for ownership at $0.99 each, as well as a subscription-based service that allows users to pay a flat monthly fee of $14.99 for unlimited rental access to the company's music library. That library boasts more than two million songs from the four major music labels, in addition to thousands of independent labels. MusicGremlin users don't need a PC to utilize the service, either, as the device offers Wi-Fi connectivity to download songs from any wireless access point. The Gremlin MG-1000 hard drive-based player ($299.99) offers 8GB of storage capacity -- or roughly 2,000 tracks -- and connects to Windows PCs for transfer. The software for the player is incompatible with Mac OS X, however, leaving Mac users to fend for themselves.
The Gremlin MG-1000
Gremlin owners can connect to Wi-Fi using both their home network and publicly-available Wi-Fi hot-spots. When the Gremlin turns on, the device's Wi-Fi manager scans in the background without interrupting the user's listening experience, automatically connecting to the strongest available network. The device can connect to both open and select permission-based networks. When not connected, users can browse and purchase new music via the included music catalog, which is then delivered to their Gremlin players during the next connection. The players can also connect directly to each other if no network is present.
Gremlin users can connect to each other over-the-air to browse each other's music libraries, while subscription users can send music to each other's players wirelessly and legally, both locally or connected via Wi-Fi to the internet.
Gremlin players feature all the basic functionality of other MP3 players, allowing users to transfer existing MP3 and WMA files from PCs to the player for playing. Gremlins also support Windows Media 10-based music services, further expanding the device's access to music sources which could harm Apple's limited iPod offering, which is bound to the iTunes Music Store.