it's not as sexy as the ipod
January 9, 2002 7:11 PM   Subscribe

it's not as sexy as the ipod but for just as much money sonicblue announced their entry into the mp3's on a multiple-gig unit today - the rio riot. twenty gigabytes worth of music storage for $399. perhaps one of the coolest features has to be the personal dj which manages playlists and also remembers your favorite songs and will mix personalized playlists.
posted by boogah (32 comments total)
Why does it look like an Atari Lynx?
posted by jjg at 7:21 PM on January 9, 2002

my math may be wrong, but even at the physical limits of the USB 1.0 spec, that thing would take 27 minutes to fully synchronize. If I were a windows user (eek!) I think I would gladly trade off 15 megs of space for firewire, even if it meant buying this.
posted by machaus at 7:24 PM on January 9, 2002

Damn that thing's ugly. I'd kinda prefer one of these for US$70 less. Yeah, it's also ugly; but at least it's got some spiffy blue on it.
posted by phalkin at 7:31 PM on January 9, 2002

my math may be wrong, but even at the physical limits of the USB 1.0 spec, that thing would take 27 minutes to fully synchronize.

you'd actually plan on changing the contents of the entire unit? i'd say twenty gigs is plenty of music to not have to worry about moving much on or off of it after the inital migration of your music.
posted by boogah at 7:33 PM on January 9, 2002

If it looks like a Lynx, wouldn't that be a point in favor of a certain sexiness? I always lusted after those things when they came out. Or am I the only person who thinks obsolescence is fun?

In all seriousness, though, I wonder if it's really all that important to be concerned with the beauty of something that's going to sit in your pocket most of the time. Under those circumstances, it's all about a good tactile interface and keeping bulk down to the point that it doesn't appear you have a canned ham in your pocket. On those points the iPod is reportedly quite good.

In respect to data transfer speeds: Okay, it takes a half hour to set up. But once you have your 20 gig of music on the thing, you're never going to wait through that process again. It's not as though you're constantly transferring the entire contents of the filesystem every time you plug it in. I don't see a significant advantage to a faster I/O port on the thing -- especially so in light of the relative scarcity of 1398 ports compared to USB. If they had stuck the cheesy parallel port interface on the thing like they did on the early Rio models, I'd gladly call them morons.
posted by majick at 7:37 PM on January 9, 2002

to be honest, i'm perfectly happy with my riovolt sp-250. perhaps it's because it's easy enough for me to burn a cd full of mp3's when i get enough content. to each their own i guess.
posted by boogah at 7:38 PM on January 9, 2002

Looks pretty sexy to me, and the interface looks promising; the iPod reminds me more of an old tone dialer.
posted by skyline at 7:39 PM on January 9, 2002

Creative Labs has had the 20GB hard drive NOMAD Jukebox out for about a year - at least well before Apple began thumping it's chest. So Sonic Blue is a little slow to get on the bandwagon - but at least they are offering 20GB as opposed to the iPod's 5GB.
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 7:44 PM on January 9, 2002

The ipod's strange dial is actually one of its strengths. Everyone I know that owns one can use it without looking at it. There's something to be said about pushing intuitive design so far that people don't even have to look at it to operate it. Could the same be said for the new Rio?
posted by mathowie at 7:50 PM on January 9, 2002

Another neat thing about the iPod -- it has two CPUs, and probably has enough power to run Linux without much trouble.

...the "cool hack" potential is enormous.
posted by aramaic at 8:13 PM on January 9, 2002

Oddly missing - what's the size and weight? What sort of power? How long is the buffer?

Plusses for the iPod in this regard are that it's the size a cigarette pack, weighs almost nothing, is charged via firewire or adapter, good for at least 10 hours, and has a 20 minute buffer. Some pretty important plusses, I think.
posted by warhol at 8:18 PM on January 9, 2002

Near as I can tell from seeing it on TV, it's about the size of a paperback book spread open and claims a battery life of 10-12 hours. At least according to this article, it includes firewire.

I have an Ipod, and I'm very happy with it because I can fit it in my pocket. However, this certainly has better capacity an integrated FM tuner, and a very cool remember my favorite songs feature that I hope to see implemented into iTunes/Ipod in the future.
posted by willnot at 8:36 PM on January 9, 2002

"and has a 20 minute buffer"

Help me out here, people.

When car CD players first started coming out with memory buffers, it was a good thing to buffer 20 seconds, since you could drive over a quad set of railroad tracks without skipping. Now we have 20 minutes of buffer on a portable player. Why? In case you're in a massive earthquake?

The preceding may look facetious, but it's an actual question. I really don't understand why you need that much.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:55 PM on January 9, 2002

With hard drive based recorders you get a whole lot more battery life if only have to spin the drive up for a few seconds each 20 minutes and cache the music into RAM.
posted by willnot at 8:57 PM on January 9, 2002

the size of an open paperback book?

no thanks.

crash_davis: i believe the 20 minute buffer is almost arbitrary. it didn't take any more effort to go from a few minutes to 20, so why not 20?

personally, i don't even need the 5gigs of space my ipod has.
posted by o2b at 8:58 PM on January 9, 2002

the size of an open paperback book? no thanks.

Indeed. My iPod is only slightly larger than the Nomad II which used to be my portable MP3 player of preference, and it fits snugly in my hand or coat pocket, and it's got Firewire.
posted by KLAX at 9:20 PM on January 9, 2002

Now we have 20 minutes of buffer on a portable player. Why? In case you're in a massive earthquake?

No, so it can store more music in memory at any given moment. The more music in memory, the less often it needs to read from the hard drive. The less often it reads from the hard drive, the more often it can power it down and make the battery last much longer.
posted by warhol at 9:22 PM on January 9, 2002

When someone comes out with an mp3 player that holds 20gb worth of music, and is the size of a cigarette pack, and can recieve AM/FM and shortwave/marine signals, all with at least a 20 hour battery life...

then I'll be impressed.
posted by canoeguide at 9:41 PM on January 9, 2002

I, too own an iPod and I couldn't be more happy with it. Unlike alot of claims on batter life, I would say that the iPod's claim of 10 hours is pretty accurate. Also, the scrollwheel interface is truly amazing. It's really the best interface I have ever dealt with on a handheld, I can go from A-Z on my music collection in a snap.

Another benefit of the iPod, for those of us who have one. Go to the About page and hold the center button for about 5 seconds...
posted by untuckedshirts at 9:43 PM on January 9, 2002

I don't think the iPod should be considered as an MP3 player exactly. Me, I'm not so much into carrying around music, and even if I were, I don't think I'll need a thousand songs.

What sold me on the iPod was seeing it used as an external firewire drive, perfectly capable of running Office X (which only consumes about 300Mb or so. Carrying apps from compuer to computer is far more compelling than lugging around plain ol' MP3 files.

Can any other player offer such a fine service? I think not.
posted by aladfar at 10:19 PM on January 9, 2002

It's not an MP3 player, but for all the gadget geeks who've stayed with the thread this long, this Universal Voice Translator looks wicked cool. Almost like having a little fish in your ear.

And how about a 160 gig firewire drive drive for under $400?

I love the 21st century man. Now if we can just get some of those nanobots that will crawl through my blood stream turning little lasagna molecules into muscle rather than what I'm currently doing with all that starchy, cheesy, gooey goodness, we'll be just about all set.
posted by willnot at 10:36 PM on January 9, 2002

And one other thing I have to mention. Click the buy it button on the translator to get the price ($250), then hit the back button, and the site pops up a window that wants to haggle with you.

"Come back, make an offer..."

That's the funniest (most annoying) thing I've seen on an e-commerce sight for some time now.
posted by willnot at 10:48 PM on January 9, 2002

aladfar: The aforementioned Archos is essentially a glorified external USB drive. You can store whatever you like on it for massively easy transport - thousands o' digital tunes, your hax0r copy of Photoshop, emergency porn reserves, etc. (It was this functionality that sold me on it compared to its awkward-transport-mechanism-for-MP3s-only brethren.)
posted by youhas at 1:09 AM on January 10, 2002

youhas: exactly! that's why there's one on it's way to my doorstep. i'm tired of using my camera (which functions as a USB mass-storage device) to transport all my mp3's, software, and other shady stuff.
posted by phalkin at 1:34 AM on January 10, 2002

I've owned one of these since it came out. It's the size of 2 cigarette packs, and plays for ten hours on a single battery that recharges when you plug it in. I've had mine for like 2 years and it's still going strong with daily usage. Of course, I only have the 5gig version, and way back when, I paid $800 for it, but it was the first of it's kind *anywhere* and I *really* wanted it.

Best gadget purchase I've ever made.

When I have the money, I'm going to put a 20 gig drive into it which, sadly, isn't even enough for my mp3 collection. Sure it takes a long time to fill the bugger up with USB but you only have to do it *once*. And at $379, it's $20 cheaper than the iPod. I'd rather give money to the original innovators than apple. But that's just me.

It's cheaper, it holds more, and it's by the people who came up with HD based mp3 players. Oh, and with the latest firmware updates, I can play minesweeper or sakoban on it when I get really bored.
posted by jaded at 1:43 AM on January 10, 2002

just to give everyone an idea (yes it's very late in the post, but I haven't been home..), the ipod is EXACTLY the size of a casette tape without the guide notches on the side. It's about twice as thick. I have now filled it up, and am going nuts with itunes, because when you delete something from a playlist, it doesn't get deleted from the iPod. that kinda sucks, but otherwise I am a happy camper, and just installed the 1.0.4 update, so I will now get the advantages of being able to run it in Portugese.. if that can be called an advantage. :)
posted by demannu at 2:12 AM on January 10, 2002

I still want firewire, and hope Apple comes out with it's own Windows mechanism. Otherwise I am considering the iPod if XPlay works out.

The Rio Riot looks nice... but USB is just too slow. Truth be told, with 20 GB of space, I transfer songs once, I won't have to worry about it again, since I can store just about my entire library on the thing.
posted by benjh at 3:54 AM on January 10, 2002

The PJB 100 mentioned by jaded is a really excellent unit. I've had one a year and a bit and wouldn't be without it. I upgraded mine to a 30GB disc and that makes a huge difference to its usefulness. The original 4.5GB disc just wasn't enough I found to keep a wide enough selection of music on it to keep me happy. It wasn't so much the transfer speed of USB that I found was the problem before the upgrade, more the hassle of having to keep another copy of the MP3s elsewhere and / or rip them each time. Now I can just add new albums as I buy them and then forget about it.
posted by kerplunk at 4:30 AM on January 10, 2002

I have an Iomega NEO, which has 20gig and the only downside is that it's kinda big. (But it fits in my coat pocket well, so it's small enough for me) And all I can say is that having my entire CD collection (most of it, anyway) on one unit and being able to "Random All" through the thing is cool. It's like my own personal radio station. It's fun to drom Futurama and Simpsons sound clips on it, and between every eight songs or so get a laugh.

Multi-gig MP3 units are going to be the standard someday. Transfer time is something that could be improved (mine is USB) but I only throw new CD's on it and that takes a short amount of time.

I had the very first Rio. It was a parrallel port connection to my PC. It was so slow it felt like it was rerecording the songs to get them on the machine. We've come a long way, baby. (Not that we don't have a long way to go yet..)
posted by fnirt at 7:16 AM on January 10, 2002

Look folks, you can just buy one of these and one of these and you got 40 GB in a (very large) pocket for $350. You can substitute this hard drive and get 20 GB for under $250.
posted by boaz at 7:44 AM on January 10, 2002

Boaz - 1.5 hours? I don't think so...

The question is.. will media cards be able to catch the storage capacity of hard drives any time soon? Or will the hard drives reduce in size faster to provide a Nomad II MG-size player with a 20 Gig hard drive?

And how much will it all cost?

Will the convergence of machines do anything about this?

With the TiVo discussion, we have stereo components converging in with the TV even more than surround sound and DVD has done.. merging it further with the PC and looking at creating a virtual network in the home.

And we have had many attempts to find a good convergence of portable items.. from phones and PDA's to MP3 and PDA, and MP3 and cameras, and so forth..

What about a 20Gig unit the size of a Nomad-type MP3 player running on the Palm OS, that is a GSM nokia-like phone, with 3 megapixel photo quality that can synch through fastwire to your TiVo-ish stereo/tv component, updating your PC, music, photo, PDA functions all at once?

And runs on a rechargable battery that lasts longer than 24 hours during multi-function use?
posted by rich at 8:23 AM on January 10, 2002

warhol and willnot: Thank you. Now it all makes sense.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:09 AM on January 10, 2002

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