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ReQuest Updates Its Home Music Appliance

To date there has been little progress in the effort to bring digital music files and streams away from the PC and into the consumer's living room. 3-com's Kerbango and Akoo's Kima have yet to materialize on the market and free Internet radio listeners from the constraints of their PCs. The AudioReQuest, however, has been available to consumers since last April, and the company is periodically releasing updates.

ReQuest Multimedia originally introduced the AudioReQuest to the market as a jukebox appliance. The latest software update, announced today, enables sharing of digital music throughout the home with home networking. Once the appliance is networked, digital music files captured on the PC can be easily played through the owner's home stereo system.

AudioReQuest is designed to allow users to access all of their music from one location. When a user plays a CD, a copy is encoded on the appliance's hard drive and the CD never needs to be inserted again. AudioReQuest can also transfer music to a portable MP3 player.

The free software update made available today will allow users to set up an Ethernet connection with their PC, whereas previously the user could connect the appliance to their PC only through a parallel port connection. The appliance will also be distributed with the hardware necessary to set up the connection, and instructions to make the process as painless as possible.

In its current version, the AudioReQuest cannot connect to the Internet on its own. Once the appliance is networked, the user can transfer MP3s to and from the PC, stream music from their PC into their home stereo system, and take advantage of instant CD Name, artist and album look up over the Internet. ReQuest has partnered with MP3.com to use their database for this function.

Vasquez stated that they are working on updates that will allow the AudioReQuest to receive Internet radio, and make the AudioReQuest platform Internet enabled separate from a PC. At this time, though, the AudioReQuest is for an individual that desires the ability to organize their CDs digitally, and play their music files through their home stereo system.

"Efforts to diversify MP3 and digital audio off the PC and into the living room are gaining momentum," said Bryan Ma, Consumer Devices analyst with IDC. "IDC believes that the distribution of digital audio could help stimulate interest in home networking. Our research projects that by 2004, 17% of US households will contain a home network."

According to Vasquez, the company is happy with the sales of the unit to date. Primarily, consumers in technologically advanced, urban areas have been purchasing the unit. Vasquez also noted that the company has an international distribution, with a number of sales to European consumers in such countries as Switzerland and the Netherlands.

AudioReQuest is slated to become available in major retail electronic stores, however, the time schedule for this has not been publicized. Currently, the unit is sold at www.request.com (http://www.request.com) for $799.00.

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