Walt Disney Company announced it plans to sell $50 flash-based portable music players for kids and "tweens" called Mix Sticks in major retailers and at its online store beginning in mid-October.
The players will be available in four styles—Chrome, Forever Princess, That’s So Raven, and Sassy Pixie—and support MP3 and WMA audio files, as well as standard data storage. Mix Sticks feature playback controls which (surprise surprise!) form a silhouette head of Mickey Mouse; the units ship with a 128 MB capacity (Disney says this is about 60 songs, but it probably closer to 30 using common encoding techniques) but are expandable to 1 GB. Mix Sticks will also support Disney’s Mix Clips, memory cards preloaded with WMA/MMC digital albums featuring music from Radio Disney, That’s So Raven, and other House of Mouse offerings. Mix Clips will be priced at $15 each.
According to Disney, music can be loaded onto the Mix Sticks using standard music downloading software (they ship with Windows Media software; there’s no word whether Mix Sticks can be loaded using Apple’s iTunes, although Mix Sticks will not support songs purchased from the iTunes Music Store). Mix Sticks offer up to 8 hours of playback time with a built-in rechargable lithium battery; the devices are about the size of a pack of gum and will ship with stereo earbuds and a safety release lanyard.
Mix Sticks will be available from Target, Sears, Limited Too, Wal-Mart.com, and Disney’s own online store. The company will also sell a separate cases and a Disney Jam Stand with built-in speakers, which lets kids play music from a Mix Stick while recharging the Mix Stick’s battery.
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