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The Sansa e280. ((Courtesy of SanDisk))

SanDisk, a manufacturer of memory cards and USB keys, released a new music player Monday that can hold twice as many songs as a similarly priced iPod Nano.

The Sansa e280 has eight gigabytes of memory and can store about 2,000 songs, twice as many as the best-selling version of Apple Computer's iPod Nano.

Both music players cost about $250 US and both use flash memory, but the Sansa e280 also has a memory expansion slot, meaning its capacity can be increased to 10 gigabytes.

Apple's other iPod models use small hard drives for storage and can hold up to 60 gigabytes of music, photos and videos.

SanDisk's player also boasts an FM radio, voice recording and a battery life a few hours longer than the iPod Nano.

SanDisk, based in Milpitas, Calif.,also cut the cost of its other e-series music players, which can hold two, four and six gigabytes. All of the models can store music, photos and video clips.

SanDisk is the world's largest manufacturer of flash memory, such as SD cards for digital cameras and PDAs, and USB flash memory keys. It is a distant second in theportable music player market, behind Apple.

Market analysts estimate that Apple has about three-quarters of the market in the U.S., compared to SanDisk with 10 per cent.

Other manufacturers, including Creative Technologies, iRiver, Samsung and Toshiba, are also attempting to chip away at Apple's share of the portable media player market.

Microsoft has announced plans for a wireless media player, called Zune, to be launched later in the year, along with an online music downloading service to challenge Apple's iTunes.