Carrier WiFi

Streamin' Ibiza

3:05 PM -- Chinese white goods firm Haier has teamed up with RealNetworks Inc. (Nasdaq: RNWK)'s Rhapsody service to take the next logical step in WiFi-enabled music players -- an MP3 player that allows the user to stream tunes over a wireless connection.

The 30-Gbyte Haier Ibiza is a costly wee beast at $330 a pop; the rival 80-Gbyte Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPod is $244, and a 30-Gbyte Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Zune is just $100. While both Apple and Microsoft now offer models with WiFi download capabilities, however, they cannot stream music like the Ibiza.

With a $15 per month subscription to Rhapsody, Ibiza owners can use their player like a radio (remember them?) and listen to tracks in real-time or download MP3s like a regular player. All without having to connect to a PC.

The main drawback I can see -- aside from the initial cost -- is that users that want to travel a lot with their Ibiza could start racking up larger bills for WiFi hotspot access. Unless you're willing to spend time and effort finding unsecured connections, the extra cost of something like a T-Mobile US Inc. hotspot plan is probably something to factor in, although that still might not cover wireless LANs in some airports and hotels. — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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