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Rio parks digital audio in cars

Rio announced Monday that it has begun shipping the Rio Car, an in-dash digital audio player for automobiles. The car player has been expected since Rio’s parent company, Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sonicblue, acquired Empeg in October. Empeg makes digital audio players for cars that are already available in Europe.

With more than 200 million cars on American roads, there is a huge market waiting to be tapped–although gathering acceptance will take some time, according to Thilo Koslowski, a Gartner analyst.

Digital music isn’t expected to gain mass popularity until the players come pre-installed in new cars.

“People generally like to have all their components already installed, so this player will have to be extremely easy to install if they want to get any sort of penetration,” Koslowski said.

The Rio Car can be used with existing tape decks, AM/FM radios, CD players and amplifiers, according to Rio. The component slides out of a standard car stereo slot and can be attached to a home stereo system.

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