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Friday, October 15, 2004
Olympus 'm:robe' Mixes Music Player with Digital Camera

Fashionable Compact Design of MR-500i Puts 20 Gigabytes Worth of Music and Images At Your Fingertips With Unique "No Button" Touch-Screen Interface

Olympus, a company known for taking product design innovation to a higher level of style and functionality, officially enters the digital music market today with the launch of two models in its new "m:robe" series of digital music players. With this effort, the company is combining its audio expertise with its optical heritage to create products that embody the best of both sound and vision.

MR-500i Redefines What A Music Player Can Be

The flagship model of the new Olympus m:robe series is the MR-500i that combines a 20-gigabyte digital music player with a 1.22-megapixel digital camera to create a compact and stylish multimedia device unlike any other that's come before it. With a one-of-a-kind "No Button" flat touch-screen interface incorporated into a vibrant 3.7-inch color VGA LCD display, music and digital images spring into action at your fingertips in several dynamic and captivating slideshows. Now, both your music and your digital images - the core elements of your self-expression - can conveniently travel anywhere with you.

"Unlike traditional digital music players that only allow you to tune out the rest of the world, the m:robe MR-500i actually allows you to tune into the world by taking and experiencing your digital images on their own or together in a remix with your personal selection of music," said Keith Swiderski, Business Development Manager, Olympus Imaging America Inc.

"The MR-500i reinvents the photo album, altering it from something you leave on a coffee table to something you can take with you and share with others. Whether using images taken by the MR-500i itself, or using high-resolution images imported to it and synching them to your music to create a slideshow with audio, it delivers an interactive experience that excites the senses."

Elegant Simplicity With Intelligently Designed Interface

Olympus is the only company today using a touch-screen interface on a music player, and this is emblematic of the company's approach to breakthrough industrial design and finding a better way for products to work. The design of the MR-500i is elegantly simple both inside and out, with an easy-to-use interface that eliminates all unnecessary buttons and allows you to organize and access images and music in a way that makes sense.

On the surface, the all-black face of the MR-500i is as flat and smooth as glass, and its contoured body is strikingly compact at a mere 4.3in. (W) x 2.89in. (H) x 0.83in. (D) and 7.4 ounces to slip into a pocket, purse or backpack. The back and sides of its body are a pristine, incandescent white. With the push of the ON button located on the side of its body, its bright 3.7-inch backlit color VGA touch-screen display (640 x 480 resolution) bursts into life with three main icons for MUSIC, PHOTO and REMIX.

Touching the MUSIC icon on this intuitive interface brings up any one of up to 5,000 songs in WMA or MP3 format you can store on the MR-500i 20-gigabyte hard drive. Sound comes through the ear-bud headphones in high fidelity, and by adjusting the Equalizer you can bring out the throbbing bass, subtle mid-range and crisp treble tones in your music, or choose from several custom EQ settings. Moreover, because the MR-500i is as much about seeing as it is about hearing, it can display not just song titles and lyrics, but also the CD art of the musician's work should you choose to upload it to the player.

The ability to easily adjust volume, EQ, search songs by keyword, album, artist, genre, top 10 hits and favorites, and sort all images in albums at the touch of a finger, means the MR-500i delivers music and images your way. This is made possible by an intelligent search capability running on a dual chipset design.

With a wired remote that features a two-line LCD display connected to the ear-buds, it is possible to control the MR-500i while it is tucked out of sight. Find a song, skip a song, shuffle the songs in random order and let it surprise you, add a song to favorites, adjust the volume or change the display without ever removing the player from its hiding place.

Point and Shoot To Never Miss A Moment

Touching the PHOTO icon on the MR-500i main menu instantly transforms it into a 1.22-megapixel digital camera. The VGA touch-screen acts as a large 3.7-inch monitor in which to compose and review images taken with the camera located on the back of the MR-500i. There is no shutter button - just tap anywhere on the touch-screen and instantly take digital images of a resolution that is perfect for emailing or viewing on the MR-500i. View images a variety of ways: all at once, by album, or by date in a calendar view.

It is possible to upload digital images taken by any camera, at any resolution, from a PC to the MR-500i - making it a great way to bring your photo collection to the party. And because it is PictBridge enabled, the MR-500i can connect quickly and easily to any printer that incorporates the PictBridge standard via the auto-connect USB 2.0 cable, without using a PC, and print out photos taken by the MR-500i or other images imported to it and stored on it.

Create a Soundtrack For Your Life

Things get even wilder when you tap the MR-500i's touch-screen and select the REMIX icon. "Remix Play" combines both your music and your images into animated slideshows to create a soundtrack for your life. First, choose the photos you want to include in the remix. Then select from one of the available Remix Templates - Flash Back, Tiles, Geometric, or Birthday - and then choose the song you wish to accompany the remix. Sit back and watch the show.

Imagine the possibilities. You can take a trip to New Orleans and photograph every step of the journey and then play back the images with a Jazz background. Chronicling a trip to Vienna? How about playing those images back with a Classical Mozart soundtrack? No matter what you display or what music you play, the MR-500i makes the experience interactive and more enjoyable than simply flipping through the pages of a silent photo album. Additional Remix Templates are planned in the near future and will be available for download from Olympus.

Getting More Out of the MR-500i

The MR-500i was designed as a complete "out of box" solution. That's why it comes with a cradle to synchronize your songs and images as well as charge the player's Lithium Polymer battery in 3 hours to deliver 8 hours of quality playback time. If you wish to leave the cradle at home, then the MR-500i can be charged via the USB 2.0 cable connected to your PC.

Downloading songs and images from a PC to the player via the high speed USB 2.0 connection is fast and easy thanks to the included "m:trip" Photo/Music Management Software for Windows operating systems. The m:trip application can be used to play music captured from CD or purchased via Internet download, and allows images captured with the MR-500i or another digital camera to be viewed or combined with music in various ways, and to save Remixes.

The MR-500i also comes with external jacks and wires to connect to a stereo or receiver or television and play back images and music for a crowd. The MR-500i conveniently operates as an external hard drive for transporting large files from one Windows-compatible PC to another. Just drag and drop files from your PC to your m:robe.

MR-100 Packs Power Into Miniature Package

Olympus also introduced today the m:robe MR-100 Digital Music Player, a smaller dedicated music player that delivers 5 gigabytes of storage for over 1,200 songs. At a petite size of just 3.5in. (H) x 2.0in. (W) x 0.6in. (D) and weighing a mere 3.5 ounces, the MR-100 is more compact and lightweight than the MR-500i and its minimalist all-black face incorporates a No-Button touch-panel interface with a monochrome 160 x 128 dot-matrix display with striking red LED.

Like the MR-500i, the MR-100 has great ease-of-use so you can control the listening experience completely with adjustable EQ, and simply search and customize your playlists. With a USB 2.0 cradle and charger, you can rapidly download music to the MR-100 and listen to it for 12 hours between charges. The included music management software allows you to keep track of your music collection efficiently. With an Audio-Video cable it is possible to bring WMA and MP3 music formats to your T.V. or stereo speakers.

MR-500i Package Contents
USB Cradle, USB Cable, headphones, AC Adapter, Carrying Pouch, Wired Remote Control with 2-line LCD, A/V Cable, m:trip Photo/Music Management Software.

MR-100 Package Contents
USB Cradle, USB Cable, AC Adapter, headphones, m:trip Photo/Music Management Software.

The MR-500i and the MR-100 will be available in January 2005.

U.S. Pricing
MR-500i Estimated Street Price: $499.99 (U.S.)
MR-100 Estimated Street Price: $249.99(U.S.)

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