Audi and Volkswagen have emerged as the first automobile manufacturers to offer a digital media player as an option for all their new vehicles.
The PhatNoise® Digital Car Audio System, PhatBox™, is the first factory-approved, high-capacity digital music player that is fully integrated with Volkswagen and Audi cars. It provides 20 GB of storage (on removable DMS cartridges) for MP3, Audible and other formats of encoded audio files.
Beginning this month, more than 250 Audi and 600 Volkswagen dealerships across the U.S. will be offering new car buyers the option of having the dealer-installed PhatBox, which has a suggested retail price of $795 (US). The product is also available as an upgrade for most current Audi and Volkswagen owners.
PhatBox is currently available from PhatNoise as a 3rd-party add-on for numerous car models by Ford, Mercury, Toyota, Nissan, BMW, Ferrari and Acura, as well as Volkswagon and Audi. It is also branded as the Kenwood CX-910 Music Keg.
The PhatNoise system is a digital music player that installs and operates very much like a CD changer. The system has a 20 GB hard drive that is able to store thousands of tracks, or up to 500 complete CDs.
The system also includes the PhatNoise Music Manager software and a USB 2.0 cradle for fast, easy organization and transfer of music from PCs or audio CDs onto a palm-sized portable digital media storage cartridge (DMS). The cartridge is then inserted into the trunk-mounted player for instant access to thousands of music tracks simply by turning on the vehicle sound system.
Because the system operates in a manner similar to a CD player, the user controls the system through the existing CD controls on their car stereo. An on-board voice-enabled music search lets users browse their music tracks by artist, album or genre for easy access to thousands of tracks while driving so they never have to take their eyes off the road to find their favorite song.
“We have brought the automobile, music and technology industries together all at once to extend the digital distribution of music into cars,” said Sharon Graves, Chief Executive Officer of PhatNoise.
“For the first time, consumers will be able to use a hard drive-based platform to move music off the PC and enjoy it in the car in a fully integrated way, bringing a seamless digital entertainment experience into their vehicles.”
The PhatBox overcomes long-standing barriers to introducing new technology and new content into the car by integrating directly with both the factory sound system and with the digital environment of the PC and the Internet.
The PhatNoise system also employs a solid digital rights management system that aims to make the PhatBox an attractive opportunity for digital music distribution by music labels.
“Getting our music to consumers in as many exciting new, secure platforms as possible is a major priority for EMI. A digital entertainment platform like PhatNoise, with a robust digital rights management system and designed exclusively for an automobile, is a perfect example,” said Adam Varon, vice president, EMI Music special markets.
EMI will offer selections by artists representing genres from jazz to current and classic rock, pre-loaded on the PhatBox. Owners who have the PhatBox installed in their vehicles will also receive a complementary one-month subscription to Audible, allowing them to download licensed best-selling audio books as well as content from media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, and transfer it to their PhatBox for in-car listening.
PhatNoise Web Site