Unless you've been living under a rock for the past 5 years, you're aware that digital music has given its listeners unprecedented freedom to manage and move their music. It's also been running roughshod over the music industry (which still hasn't completely stopped blaming digital music for declining CD sales). However, their participation in some of the new digital music ventures gives us hope they're getting hip to the notion that their industry will survive not despite, but because of these advances. Here's a summary of how things looked five minutes ago.
1. ESCIENT FIREBALL DIGITAL MUSIC MANAGER: An all-in-one digital music component for your stereo system, combining a hard drive for MP3 and WAV file recording and playback, access to Internet and Sirius satellite radio stations, a CD drive for ripping and burning, the ability to load music onto compatible portable players, and CD changer control—all made extraordinarily simple through a well-integrated, remote-control-friendly user interface (complete with album cover art) displayed on your TV screen. (40GB and 120GB models available at $2,000 and $3,000 respectively.) escient.com
2. KENWOOD EXCELON MUSIC KEG: It's easy to keep your car in tune—thousands of tunes, in fact—with the Music Keg KHD-CX910 ($600). The main unit (mounted in the trunk or under your seat) accepts 20GB hard disk cartridges, each with room for about 5,000 songs. To put that in perspective, with this setup you could drive cross-
country five times without hearing the same song twice. To fill up on music files, just attach the included USB docking cradle to your PC and transfer files from computer to cartridge. kenwoodusa.com
3. APPLE iPOD: A slim, elegant design, plenty of storage (10, 15 and 30GB models at $300, $400 and $500), excellent audio quality, decent battery life and an easy-to-use interface—what more do you want? How about new touch-sensitive controls? Beyond MP3, iPod also plays downloadable audiobooks, and it's the only portable player for iTunes music downloads. apple.com
4. iRIVER IFP-390T: This pint-size powerhouse does it all—MP3 and WMA playback, FM radio, MP3 music file recording using the line-in jack, and surprisingly clear voice recording with the built-in mic—all in a solid-state device that weighs just over an ounce. The iFP-390T, with 256MB of memory (shown), runs $200; its big bro, the iFP-395T ($300), has 512MB. Both feature an easy-to-read backlit LCD screen and intuitive controls. iriver.com
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.