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Object lesson: Audible Player

Audio books have entered the digitised age with the arrival of the Audible Player. With its help talking books can now be distributed via the Internet, downloaded through a phone line into the player. It takes only a few minutes to download an hour of compressed audio - the Audible Players electronic memory can store up to two hours of speech - which can be played back through headphones. You could even have the luxury of being able to play your downloads by transmitting them directly to a car radio.

Developed by British-born company IDEO and American company Audible Inc, the player is currently only available over the Web, from http://www.audible.com, at $199. Different regulations between the US and Europe mean that it isn't marketed in the UK at the moment.

The range of recordings so far available includes keynote business speeches, Ernest Hemingway in his own words, excerpts from the Harvard Business Review and words from Billy Graham. Programmable audio without the clutter of cassettes - let's hope they start selling it here soon. David Phelan