O2's Pop Idol reviewed

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Yet more information on the 02 Digital Music Player, or DMP, can be found The Guardian’s website.

But if you can’t be bothered to read it there, here’s a quick summary, Tech Digest style. O2 has seen all of money that is being made from ringtones and has decided it wants a piece of the action. Only rather than soil its corporate hands with low-fi ringtones, it’s managed to get agreements with several big record companies to distribute ‘singles’ (remember them?) via your GPRS mobile phone.

The price is £1.50 for current chart hits and around £1 for older stuff. But the catch is that you will need to spend £100 on a separate device (the O2 DMP) – though expect prices to fall if the music delivery system takes off. Other niggles are that device’s memory is pretty limited (just 64Mb) and that you will need line-of-sight between your phone and the DMP for it to work (unfortunately it uses Infra Red rather than Bluetooth).

Still, it’s a brave move from O2 and there’s plenty to recommend the digital music player. Particularly impressive is the CODEC system that has shrunk average music file size from 3Mb to between 600Kb and 1Mb without noticeably affecting sound quality (enabling a single download in around 3 minutes). Also noteworthy is the fact that several major record labels are behind the initiative – something that doesn’t happen very often.

So far O2 have only announced tracks from R&B diva Blu Cantrell, but if other chart toppers get on board then the phone company – which recently announced its first profits since its demerger from BT – could have a hit on its hands.

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