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audible.com Cranks Up A New Player

audible Inc. Thursday launched a new digital audio player users can take on the road without a plug-in.

Dubbed the Digisette Duo-Aria digital audio player, the product is unique in that it can work both as a stand-alone portable listening device for use with headphones, or be inserted plug-free into standard audio cassette players, especially in motor vehicles.

The new toy also features an adjustable head control for maximum compatibility and audio fidelity. The Duo-Aria comes with a DC Car Charger, so users can recharge and power the Duo-Aria while driving.

Duo-Aria comes armed the standard 32 megabytes of memory, which is good for an hour of MP3 music. audible offers two different audio formats -- one for fast downloads due to smaller file size and one that features higher fidelity for those who use high-speed connnections for downloading files.

On the subject of the new Duo-Aria, Dr. Joseph Armao, a general practitioner and long-time listener of audible's products, said the most appealing aspect may very well be the fact that Duo-Aria can be taken on the road minus the plug-in. Armao, a Diamond Rio user who is considering snapping up the Duo-Aria did tell InternetNews.com that he would have preferred more memory in the product.

But perhaps more exciting itself is the price package in which Duo-Aria is being offered. You can pay $249 for it as a stand-alone, but Audible has also developed a subscription plan in which a consumer can get the player for a flat fee of $99 if they take out a one-year subscription in the firm's LightListener monthly membership plan. said Foy Sperring, general manager of audible.com.

The LightListener membership plan costs $9.95 per month and allows the user to download any two audiobooks from audible.coms collection of over 7,000 downloadable audiobook titles and more than 26,000 hours of digital audio content.

audible.com estimates the AudibleListener membership plan offers a savings of about 75 percent off the average retail price for the same content purchased as standard audiobooks on tape.

Alex Slawsby, an analyst of smart handheld solutions for research firm IDC, told InternetNews.com audible's product should place favorably in the market.

"The Digisette compares favorably with other MP3 cassette devices in its price and feature set while its memory is comparable to the base level offered within most other MP3 players," Slawsby said. "The form factor brings MP3 capability to traditional cassette players as well as allowing stand alone usage and the LightListener plan provides a useable alternative to paying for the player outright."