The iPod for the iPoverished


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e.digital has released its Mac-compatible Odyssey 100 MP3 player. The company claims a 30-hour battery life for the audio player.

Flash memory-based, the Odyssey 100 ships with 64MB of built-in memory, with a slot for a SmartMedia card up to 128MB [note: whether this is a limit imposed by the Odyssey's ROM is unclear].

Unlike Apple's iPod, the up-spec Odyssey 200 also has an FM radio tuner, with 20 preset stations possible. A built-in omnidirectional microphone automatically turns the device into a voice recorder. The 200 also ships with a (wired) remote control.

At the high end, the Odyssey 300 boast 128MB flash memory built in, FM radio recording, although battery life is reduced to 12 hours. Like its stablemates, it also accepts an additional 128MB SmartMedia card, and features a back-lit LCD display. The 300 can encode MP3s directly by ripping files from CDs without the use of a computer,

The Odyssey ships with e.Digital Odyssey Manager software, which is both Mac and PC compatible.

The 100, 200 and 300 are priced at $129, $179 and $229 respectively. e.digital says they will be available in retail stores in time for the back-to-school buying season.

Analysis: Hopefully, the Odysseys will take bigger media cards. It's not 5GB (or 10) or the elegance of the iPod plus FireWire drive, but it's cheap and it plays MP3s. Ergo = good.