Dell have just announced their competitor to the Apple iPod. It is initially launching two models, the Dell DJ 15 Digital Music Player ($249) and the DJ 20 ($299), with 15Gb (~3,700 songs) and 20Gb (~4,900 songs) of storage respectively.
Both of the models work as music players and portable storage devices, enabling users to load content on to them. They also have a built-in microphone, giving the ability to record conversations – this can only be achieved by using an add-on for the iPod.
The Dell offering certainly loses on looks, it looks at-best functional and the use moving buttons, as opposed to the iPod touch-sensitive controls, may contribute to reduced life. It is rumoured that the devices are made by Creative Labs and just badged Dell.
Dell have done a deal with the online music service MusicMatch to allow owner to electronically buy music and transfer it to the devices via USB 2.0. MusicMatch is not well regarded and it is therefore thought to be a major weakness ,when compared with the iPod/iTunes combination. Music from the service comes in DRM-protected WMA format, but the devices can also play MP3’s.
The iPod is often criticised for its battery life. The current version runs for about eight hours, but the Dell is reported to run for nearly twice that.
Without having had our hands on the Dell kit, our instant reaction is that the $100 saved by going for the Dell will not be sufficient to sway US purchasers from the iPod. For users outside the US, who don’t have the benefit of the iTunes service, the choice would be less clear.