Created by PhatNoise, the PhatBox gives the music fan the capacity to store and play up to 4,000 tracks. That’s right, more than 500 hours of music, making it possible to drive from California to New York and back, without repeating a single song.

“PhatNoise’s mission is to provide the products and handling technology to enable consumers to move their media between multiple environments and multiple devices,” said Dannie Lau, CEO and founder of PhatNoise.

Here’s how it works. The user connects a portable cartridge, called the PhatCart, to the PC via a Universal Serial Bus cradle. After loading the cartridge with music files, the user inserts the cartridge into the PhatBox, a special in-vehicle music player that can be positioned in your trunk. It’s also small enough to fit under a car seat and can connect to any car stereo system that is compatible with CD changers.

The PhatCart, which contains its own 30 gigabyte hard drive, is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

Loading 4,000 tracks into the PhatBox is one thing; managing those tracks is another matter. That’s where the PhatMan Music Manager comes in. It’s a powerful software package also developed by PhatNoise that makes managing all those tracks a breeze.

“What we created is something we call the Dynamic Playlist,” said Lau. “An example of this technology is that the user can use the FatMan Music Manager to create a playlist called ‘Newest 40 Rock Songs.’ What the software does, is it automatically searches through your hard drive and finds the 40 newest rock songs. All the user does is supply the criteria and the software generates the playlist for the user. As the user downloads or encodes more music, that playlist will be updated.”

Lau added that the FatMan Music Manager’s Dynamic Playlist technology also works with existing MP3 personal players.

“The software synchronize the Dynamic Playlist with other devices. If I go jogging every morning with my portable player and I always want my newest 10 songs on my portable player, the software can synchronize the newest 10 songs with the portable player so every morning when I go jogging I’ll have the 10 newest songs.”

Unlike several other MP3 personal players, the user doesn’t have to replace all the tracks already stored on the PhatBox in order to add one new song.

The PhatBox supports MP3 and Microsoft’s Windows Media Audio (WMA) formats, and can be upgraded to accommodate future software codecs.

How do you get your hands on the PhatBox? PhatNoise will start selling the device, priced at $549, to consumers through the company’s Web site in February. Automotive electronics company Visteon has licensed the PhatBox technology and will market it to the automobile aftermarket, under the name Mach MP3 Jukebox, starting in the third quarter of this year.