Dell yesterday announced more details about its Dell Digital Jukebox music player and its new music download service, which both launch today.

The Dell DJ music player will come with a 15GB hard drive. A second version with a 20GB hard drive will also be available. Hitachi's 1.8-inch Travelstar hard drive will be used in the new music players, Dell said.

The 15GB version will cost $249, while the 20GB version will cost $329. The Dell DJ weighs 7.6oz (212.8g), and will play music continuously for 16 hours, according to the company.

Apple's iPod music players come in 10GB, 20GB and 40GB versions, and weigh less than the Dell DJ. Prices start at $299 for the 10GB version.

Dell's music download service will come through a partnership with Musicmatch, which offers 250,000 songs for $0.99 each, or complete albums from artists such as Dido and 50 Cent for $9.99 or higher.

Copy protection

Songs will be available in the MP3 or WMA (Windows Media Audio) format. A version of Apple's iTunes service for Windows users launched earlier this month, but allows Windows users to download songs only in AAC (advanced audio coding) format. This has been developed by Apple as digital rights management (DRM) technology for iTunes, and songs created in that file format will not play on portable devices other than the iPod.

The Musicmatch service uses the DRM technology within the WMA format to limit the number of copies of a song that can be ripped to a CD or transferred to portable music players that support the WMA format.

Both the iPod and the Dell DJ will play the MP3 files that users have assembled by ripping their CD collections or downloaded from file-sharing sites.

Dell has aggressively entered the consumer electronics market along with Apple, Gateway and Hewlett-Packard, as the companies look for alternate sources of revenue outside the PC market.

In related news, Microsoft has announced plans to launch a portable music device that will run on Microsoft software in 2004.

The Portable Media Center will play MP3 files and audio and video content recorded in Microsoft's own digital format. Various manufacturers, including iRiver, Creative Technology, Sanyo, and Samsung, are also expected to produce music players based on the new software.