It's a little weird that it's 2006 and we're only now seeing a major launch of a WiFi-enabled, service-driven digital audio player, but we've got to start somewhere. Say hello to MusicGremlin's Gremlin MG-1000 -- the wireless player we first wrote about just shy of two years ago
. The 8GB device makes use of MusicGremlin Direct, their namesake PlaysForSure music service which is just your standard subscription-based unlimited DRMd downloads per month deal. The exciting thing, of course, is the ability to load and play back content on your Gremlin completely and entirely without a host PC; find a WiFi hotspot, connect, and browse MusicGremlin Direct's entire collection (supposedly 2 million songs strong). Alternately, you can contact friends directly through your MP3 player on their own Gremlins and send them the files you've downloaded, even set up an ad hoc WiFi network and forego hotspots entirely. The player itself, while kind of hideous, features a 2-inch QQVGA display, 802.11b, USB 2.0 with recharging, line-in, and FM receiver; unfortunately it only supports WMA and MP3, but don't doubt the functionality. If you can get past the looks, this thing works pretty seamelessly (we have a couple here we've been playing with) as far as on-the-go music downloading, and would be a fine choice for the $300 asking price (and $15 monthly subscription). Funny how in 2004 we thought by 2006 Apple would have long since been the first to launch an end-to-end DAP-based wireless music download system; and yet here we are in in 2006, and it's MusicGremlin.