It seems the humble car stereo is the latest area to get a flash memory makeover. Sony Electronics today announced an AM/FM CD/MP3 receiver capable of storing up to 500 of your favourite tracks and receiving music directly from your computer to your car stereo.

The new receiver has 1GB of flash memory and a USB port engineered into the faceplate. When the faceplate is removed from the receiver and connected to a Windows enabled PC, it is recognized as an external drive. With the provided USB cable, users can quickly transfer and save MP3 and WMA files to the faceplate.

The Xplod MEX-1GP (Giga Panel) model also supports playback of CD-R/RW discs, including those recorded with content purchased from Sony's CONNECT online music store. Due to the unique ATRAC3/3plus playback capability of this receiver, it can play compressed music files burned onto a CD.

The new receiver is finished in high-gloss black with a 13-segment LCD display for simple navigation of track and title information. The screen displays album, artist and track name when playing downloaded music files. Users can shuffle or repeat tracks, albums or personalized groups through controls on the faceplate or with the supplied remote control.

The MEX-1GP unit has a built-in 208-watt power amplifier and a three-band equalizer enabling clear, rich sound. The selectable rear/subwoofer preamp outputs, controls the frequency and output level of an external amplifier.

It comes supplied with a wireless remote control and will be available in February for about $350. There is currently no word on whether we will be getting the model in the UK.

We will however be getting two new design concepts to Sony's XPLOD range, the GT-Series and the A-Series. The Front Aux input function, featured in both series, is compatible with all popular personal audio devices allowing drivers to plug in and listen to music on their HDD, flash memory MP3 player or their CD collection, through the car speaker system.