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Hacker-friendly karaoke PMP runs Linux

Sep 5, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 6 views

A Taiwanese electronic system design company has developed an open-source MP3, video, and Karaoke player that runs Linux 2.6.x. Cool-Idea Technology's Cool-Karaoke uses a 400MHz ARM920t processor, includes 4GB of flash and a 320×240 display, and supports customization with a freely downloadable toolchain and source… code.

(Click for larger view of the Cool-Karaoke)

The 4.4 x 2.1 x 0.8-inch device includes a dual-mode client/host USB port for recharging via a computer, or saving files to a USB storage device. The DRM-free Cool-Karaoke supports MP3, OGG, WAV, and FLAC audio formats and MPG, AVI, and FLV video formats, says Cool-Idea. The player is also said to support MP3 recording via karaoke, microphone, line-in, or FM. It offers up to 10 hours music and five hours video playback, says the company.

The Cool-Karaoke stands apart from most personal media players (PMPs) that offer karaoke features due to its inclusion of “lots of hardware audio mixers,” says the company. Unlike software mixers, hardware mixers let users mix their voices with the background music in real-time, receiving feedback through the earphone. The device is said to offer pitch shifting, high-sensitivity microphone reception, and vocal reduction, and to support multiple lyrics formats including LRC and simple text files.

Sketch view (left) and accessories (right)

In an email, Cool-Idea developer Brian Wang wrote, “What is special about Cool-Karaoke is that the user can play an ordinary audio file, lower the vocal in it, hear his/her voice mixing along with the background music in the earphone, and record his/her singing performance in MP3 format in realtime.”

Wang went on to mention that the device “allows the user to know exactly how he/her sings and correct the defects accordingly.” Cool-Karaoke can also change the pitch and playback speed of the music, said Wang. “The change in the playback speed does not affect the pitch; thus it is pretty useful for practicing the listening ability of foreign languages,” he wrote.

Cool-Karaoke is open for users to tinker with and write applications for, wrote Wang. “It's built on lots of open source projects; thus, we open-source it with an open mind,” he wrote.

Specifications listed for the Cool-Karaoke are said to include:

  • Processor — ARM920t processor clocked to 400MHz
  • Display — 2.2-inch, TFT LCD, 320×240; 65K colors
  • Flash — 4GB and up NAND Flash
  • USB — 1 x USB 2.0 Device Type-B socket; extension port for USB host function and application development
  • Other I/O — built-in mic (or optional high-sensitivity microphone); high-bass earphone; 3.5mm stereo audio output and input
  • Audio playback — MP3, OGG, WAV, FLAC
  • Video playback — MPG, AVI, FLV
  • Image support — JPG, PNG, BMP (up to 1024 x 768 resolution)
  • Recording — MP3 via Karaoke, microphone, line-in, or FM
  • Lyrics synch — LRC/Enhanced LRC support
  • Pitch shifting — -8 to +8 tones
  • Playback speed — adjustable from -50 percent to +50 percent
  • Battery — Li-ion rechargeable via USB to PC or optional power adapter; up to 10 hours music- and 5 hours video playback
  • Dimensions — 4.4 x 2.1 x 0.8 inches (11.3 x 5.3 x 2 cm)
  • Languages — English and traditional Chinese; lyrics display also supports Simplified Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and others
  • Operating systems — Linux 2.6.x; supports connections to PCs with Linux 2.4.x, Linux 2.6.x, or Windows XP SP2 and up


The Cool-Karaoke appears to be available now for 6,600 Yuan (about $886 US). More information may be found here. A developer wiki should be here.

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