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Music Media Hardware

Rio Reveals iPod Mini Slayer 527

Remik writes "Rio has released a limited edition of its new hard drive based player called Carbon. Coming in lighter and denser (3.2oz with 5 GB of storage) than the Ipod Mini with the same price tag $249, twice the battery life, and nearly the same dimensions. Rio has only made 500 players available in the initial offering, so get one while they last. There's more info at cNet, Pocket Lint and Gizmodo. Highlights: Drag and drop file transfer, charging over USB and Janus compliance."
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Rio Reveals iPod Mini Slayer

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  • by nihilistcanada ( 698105 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @02:24AM (#10115546)
    Does it come in pink?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @02:26AM (#10115559)
    Indeed, this looks AWESOME, but it's lack of the magical iPod Click Wheel [apple.com] will be the singular feature that kills this product. The click wheel really is the best hardware UI, ever.
    • by Joey Patterson ( 547891 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @02:27AM (#10115564)
      What about the fact that it doesn't work with the iTunes Music Store?
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @02:30AM (#10115575)
        Well, technically it does work with the iTunes store, so long as you convert the songs to MP3 files, using hymn [hymn-project.org] and an AAC to MP3 converter [rarewares.org]. Yes, the quality will drop but oh-so-very-slightly. (People tend to really overestimate the quality loss when transcoding a single time. Do it like five or ten times though....)
        • Or you could not use hymn and just burn the files to a disc and re-rip into mp3.
        • by ManxStef ( 469602 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @12:03PM (#10119046) Homepage
          Yes, the quality will drop but oh-so-very-slightly. (People tend to really overestimate the quality loss when transcoding a single time. Do it like five or ten times though....)

          No, no, no, no, no! Maybe if you're deaf, stick with the crappy stock headphones and encode at 64Kbit/sec. but otherwise, you will definitely notice. Buy yourself some Shure E3C's/Ultimate Ears/Etymolics, or, if you don't want to spend that much, spend $40USD on a pair of Sony NUDE MDR-EX71SL Fontopia's, then encode your music at at least 196Kbit/sec. You'll be amazed how much better your music sounds than with, say, the rubbish Apple white earbuds. Now transcode them from AAC to MP3 and listen to how crap they sound. But anyway, back to transcoding:

          Lossy encoding works by stripping out the sounds that the encoder thinks your ears won't hear, using fancy psychoacoustic techniques and other assorted magic mojo. You get 10:1 (or better) compression, and it'll sound pretty good because most of the 4th gen. encoders (Apple AAC, Nero AAC, Vorbis, WMA9, etc.) do a good job of guessing what you won't miss. HOWEVER, when you then transcode this to another lossy format the new codec'll try to do this *all over again*, except it won't have much source material to work with this time (well, 1/10th of what it had before) and as a result will mash the sound terribly.

          To use a variation on the good old "baking a cake" analogy:
          You start with your "source", which is a fully baked crusty cake (your 44KHz 16bit CD).
          You want to make it "lighter" but appear visually the same, so, to do it in a vaguely similar way to what an encoder would do: you pull the cake into many pieces or so, then hollow out the middle bits and stick the outer crust pieces back together with some similar coloured icing. Flip it back over and, to most everyone, it still looks fairly like a normal cake (this is your encoding to AAC or whatever).

          Now you want to "transcode" it. This would now be the equivalent of smashing this hollow cake up again, trying to take away another 10th of it, then trying to reconstruct the original "shell". Good luck, but it's going to look (sound) rubbish ;)

          (Yes, that analogy is pretty crap, but hey!)
      • iTunes Music Store perhaps it, but since it supports MP3 and WMA it should support most of the PC alternatives out there. If anything it opens up more avenues, unless your already tied into iTunes.
      • What about the fact that it doesn't work with the iTunes Music Store?

        So what? It works with Kazaa and iMesh.

    • by danamania ( 540950 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @03:15AM (#10115783)
      Indeed, this looks AWESOME, but it's lack of the magical iPod Click Wheel will be the singular feature that kills this product.

      But it has that other magical iPod mini feature.


      I'm only partly joking. The scarcity helps keep the hype up longer, and I'm sure has helped make the iPod mini -wanted- all the more by many - creating fanatically loyal users, kinda. Works for gmail too.

    • by rtilghman ( 736281 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @05:28AM (#10116100)

      First off the user interface on Rios products, when combined with the software they employ, is easily as solid as Apple's line-up (more so IMHO in regards to the Karma, but that's just MHO). Regardless, your statement has ZERO merit since you provide no evidence WHY the Apple interface is superior.

      That aside, the Carbon blows the iPod mini out of the water. First off the drive it uses is from Seagate and is 1gb larger. If I had to pick two companies I trust in HD tech it would be Seagate and WD, and while Toshiba is also pretty solid HDs aren't their main business.

      Next we'll move onto another huge aspect of these players, battery life. The Carbon is cited, and this is a CONSERVATIVE estimate by Rio, at 20 hours. 20 hours! I mean that's TWO days of full use assuming you aren't using it constantly. The iPod mini TOPS OUT (and this is Apple's website here) at 8 hours. I mean is there even a comparison?

      In terms of physical appearance I would vote without blinking for the Carbon. Maybe other people like their technology devices to be Muave or Coral Pink or something and look like a lighter, but I generally like sleek looking futuristic products with a bit of an edge. I think the Carbon looks pretty sharp in all ways, though I'd rather have blue in place of red for the keypad coloring. However, cosmetics are entirely personal, so this is kind of off topic.

      What else is worth mentioning... WMA support which is, regardless of what Apple maniacs might say, much more useful than proprietary AAC support (face it, the world will use WMA DRM whether you like it or not). I don't purchase music online (so I have no use for WMA support), but its good for some folks.

      Voice recorder... mini doesn't have it, Carbon does. Again I don't use it, but its a feature.

      Basically the feature set of Rio's products is already LIGHT YEARS ahead of Apple, and it only seems to be growing. To bash the Carbon because it doesn't use a click wheel you like (and I hate) seems ridiculous to me. And the funny thing is that while I have a Karma I would NEVER buy a Carbon OR an iPod mini... I think a 4-5gb player at the price of a 20gb player is for morons.

      In short, judge the devices on their merits and try to be at least moderately open-minded here.

      • And why did they not include OGG and FLAC support? OGG plus the battery life were the main selling points that got me to buy the Karma.
      • In short, judge the devices on their merits and try to be at least moderately open-minded here.

        You don't have to be very open minded to realize they're only going to sell 500 of these things.

        Oh sure, maybe they'll sell more of them LIGHT YEARS in the future when the component costs come down into the range that will make the device profitable, but let's face it... They are only making 500 of these things right now for a reason. Apple updates the iPod every 6 months or so. Do you really think this thing
  • Just one thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tyrell Hawthorne ( 13562 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @02:26AM (#10115560) Homepage
    They missed one thing though. The iPod Mini is pretty, this one looks like someone drop a clump of dough, and stuck a display and some buttons in it. But I guess some people like the look of dough!
  • by admactanium ( 670209 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @02:29AM (#10115569) Homepage
    "copy" looks like a decent piece of machinery. but how lame is it that they've copied so many design characteristics from the ipod? look at the "commemorative" packagaing, which looks almost exactly like the ipod's packaging. and laser engraving on the chromed rear cover of a music player? wow, innovative.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @02:30AM (#10115573)
    Highlights: Drag and drop file transfer

    Let's just hope it's scratch resistant and shock proof!
  • wow (Score:3, Interesting)

    by loraksus ( 171574 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @02:30AM (#10115574) Homepage
    a whole 500. Sounds like someone doesn't really have anything, but needs to pump a stock price.
  • Cost Prohibitive (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MedHead ( 795006 )
    I still don't understand why there is such a small price gap between the iPod Mini and the iPod 4th Generation. I can get 4GB for $250, or a 20GB for $300?! The same goes for this player. Why is this system still so expensive? I would have thought the market had advanced enough that the prices would have dropped greater.

    If it's because of the MicroDrive being used in players like the iPod mini, why not start selling iPod full size players in 5GB amounts? It would really be nice to see these "iPod killers"

    • by CountBrass ( 590228 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @02:34AM (#10115590)

      Because it's aimed at a different market! The mini is aimed at people who are considering a solid-state player: ie size is even more important to them than masses of storage space. It's also aimed at the more style conscious rather than us geeks: hence the multitude of colours for the mini and the choice of any colour as long as it's white for the ipod.

      • Oh god... how many times do we have to hear this stupid argument????? The fact is, the price point of these players does not make sense from a logical point of view. I know that people are dumb, so they buy at strange price points, but this does not make the pricing of the mini or this thing a good thing. What it does show is that companies will cynically screw idiot consumers out of every buck they have without thinking twice.

        I mean, just because solid state players are expensive per megabyte doesn't mean
    • by tfoss ( 203340 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @02:51AM (#10115676)
      Why is this system still so expensive?

      Because people are still waiting weeks for the honor of paying $250 for a mini. If the demand is there, why on earth would Apple choose to lower the price?


    • Here's why:

      All the components are (essentially) the same, except the hard drive. The hard drive for the iPod is a 1.8" part, and the mini uses an even smaller 'microdrive' that is the same form as a compactflash card, IIRC.

      The 4GB microdrive costs about as much as the 15GB minidrive, hence the cost parity.

      Rarely does speed/size equate exactly with price, there's a bottom-limit and a steep upward-curve as you move from low-cost to high-end electronics.
      • Yes, I know this. Many digital camera users were purchasing iPod minis for the microdrives, since purchasing them seperately costed more, because Apple gets the microdrives in bulk for a discount. What I don't get is why companies don't choose to use the bigger minidrives, but with less GB amounts. I'd be interested to know how much that would shave off the cost.
  • Hmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cascino ( 454769 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @02:31AM (#10115580) Homepage
    Yeah, this thing has everything. Except it's really ugly.
    Once again, the competition needs to realize Apple's success is not due to its technical dominance but rather its popular dominance. The iPod (mini) is a part of mainstream pop culture. This new device does not look to replace the mini anytime soon.
    • Re:Hmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by halo1982 ( 679554 ) * on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @02:35AM (#10115597) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, this thing has everything. Except it's really ugly.

      Once again, the competition needs to realize Apple's success is not due to its technical dominance but rather its popular dominance. The iPod (mini) is a part of mainstream pop culture. This new device does not look to replace the mini anytime soon.

      Exactly what I was going to say. The iPod is now a status symbol. There may be more functional MP3 players (iRiver...debatable) and cheaper MP3 players, but the masses don't want the better player, they want the iPod. Besides, no one has really gotten user friendlyness down except Apple (the click wheel is perfect and the UI is amazing...my dad could figure it out after about 10 seconds and I once got a call from him asking how to open Word..).

      • Re:Hmm. (Score:2, Insightful)

        by gl4ss ( 559668 )
        status symbols become irrelevant when everyone has one..

        apple can't just sit on it's ass while others make progress, well, it can but then it'll be fscked again and looking for the next ipod.

        and masses don't know what's better(mac reality distortien field affected don't count as masses either).
      • Re:Hmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DarkZero ( 516460 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @04:39AM (#10116001)
        Exactly what I was going to say. The iPod is now a status symbol. There may be more functional MP3 players (iRiver...debatable) and cheaper MP3 players, but the masses don't want the better player, they want the iPod.

        There's also the fact that the iPod's status as a "status symbol" grants it essentially the same feature that Windows has: there's tons of support for it. In much the same way that there are tons of applications and games for Windows and a small percentage of them have a Linux port, there are tons of third party companies that make accessories for the iPod, and a small percentage of them make a matching accessory for another MP3 player. It's gotten to the point where there are entire aisles in some retail stores that are devoted solely to the iPod. Cases, battery packs, car adapters, FM transmitters, portable speakers, headphones... all designed either to interface with the iPod or, in the case where the part fits any MP3 player (headphones), match the iPod's color scheme.
    • by Lurkingrue ( 521019 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @02:37AM (#10115610)
      While I'd agree with you that the thing is damn ugly, I'd take exception about the issue of Apple's dominance.

      The iPod is beautiful and it has a killer interface. Anyone can use it, and it is very intuitive. Each iteration seems to get incrementally more user-friendly and marginally better-looking, too.

      This monstrosity that is a so-called "iPod-slayer" looks hideously cumbersome to use.
  • brand value ! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by phreakv6 ( 760152 ) <phreakv6@gmail . c om> on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @02:31AM (#10115582) Homepage
    I would not buy this for the same reason i would not buy the iPod from hp [hp.com]
    Chicks love apple
  • by mj_1903 ( 570130 ) * on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @02:32AM (#10115583)
    Once again the competition fails to grasp the fact that you cannot easily scan through over 1000 songs with a nub and your thumb. The iPod will continue to be No. 1 because its interface is that much better than its competitors.

    Anyone else notice the glaring typo's in the system requirements (MAC and spave)? Seems a little rushed to me.
    • The iPod will continue to be No. 1 because its interface is that much better than its competitors.

      Yeah, dammit! iTunes is one of the greatest advantages with the iPod. It's just so...nice!
    • "Once again the competition fails to grasp the fact that you cannot easily scan through over 1000 songs with a nub and your thumb."

      Perhaps you failed to grasp that the Rio Carbon has a scroll wheel.
      • ...which is so much better. It means I can give myself RSI while finding my song of choice. Brilliant!

        I should have mentioned of course that I was indicating both the physical interface and the software interface. Both are exceptionally lacking.
      • by localman ( 111171 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @05:01AM (#10116039) Homepage
        A scroll wheel is nothing like the clickwheel on the ipod. On the ipod you can scroll through the entire list in a continuous fluid motion. On a scroll wheel you have roll and reposition, roll and reposition, roll and .... well, just try out a scroll wheel vs. an ipod somtime and you'll immediately see the difference.

        Is that worth losing a GB and some battery life? I don't know... for me it is, but perhaps not for some. My point is just that the devil is in the details. This is the one thing Apple does really get. Just because they both have some type of "wheel" does not mean they are equivalent.

    • by daBass ( 56811 )
      First off all, at 192Kbit, this player won't fit a thousand songs. Secondly, who ever scrolls through that many songs trying to find a single anyway? Don't most people, like me, only select a playlist or album?

      So the wheel is superior, but do you notice the difference in daily use? I don't on my Creative Zen NX 30Gb, which has better battery life and cost $150 less than the 30Gb iPod when I bought it.
    • Once again the competition fails to grasp the fact that you cannot easily scan through over 1000 songs with a nub and your thumb.

      I don't understand the rationale behind this argument. From a functional point of view I can't see why it's any easier to move a lever up or down to scroll through a list than it is to spin a wheel. In fact, I find with web pages that are particularly long (e.g. ./ discussions) it's a heck of a lot more convenient to click down on my scroll wheel (logitech mouse) and then gentl
  • Yes, but... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ghostgate ( 800445 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @02:36AM (#10115600)

    ...does it support Ogg Vorbis?

    Oh and don't mod me flamebait, I'm serious! Because the Rio Karma [digitalnetworksna.com] DOES support Ogg.

  • Interface? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by interactive_civilian ( 205158 ) <mamoru@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @02:37AM (#10115605) Homepage Journal
    Umm...looking at the front view in this picture [digitalnetworksna.com] from the first link above, how does one navigate between things like artists, albums, playlists, etc.

    IMNSHO, one of the things, if not the main thing that makes the iPods and iPod Minis great is the interface.

    However, I see no hints in the pictures as to what the interface is like except for the thumb-wheel on the top right. The Pocket Lint article mentions that the interface is the same as the Rio Karma, which I have never used. Can anyone enlighten us as to how the interface compares with the iPods's?

    • Re:Interface? (Score:4, Informative)

      by nutshell42 ( 557890 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:31AM (#10116460) Journal
      with the scroll wheel in the top right hand corner that is barely noticable in the picture if you don't know what you're looking for.

      Actually that's a good thing because one of the problems of the Karma was that when it fell on said wheel it would tend to break because a 20GB player still weighs a lot (relative to a solid state/mini-hd player)

      If you read some reviews or try a rio for yourself you'll notice that they've got an interface that's just as easy to navigate as the iPod interface, often there's more than one way to do something right

  • 500 Players? (Score:2, Interesting)

    Why so few? WTF?
  • Janus? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tehanu ( 682528 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @02:40AM (#10115627)
    A bit off-topic, but wasn't Janus a common symbol fo r duplicity and untrustworthiness in past (and post-Roman) times, as he had a face looking both ways (the saying "two-faced")? So isn't naming a DRM product Janus like naming an airline "Icarius"? Sure he had wings and could fly but...OTOH some would argue that being DRM and MS, Janus is an entirely appropriate name...
    • Re:Janus? (Score:5, Informative)

      by konekoniku ( 793686 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @03:05AM (#10115735)
      actually, janus was the god of beginnings and endings. yes, he had two faces, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. his two faces was often used to symbolize dichotomies in roman social and political life; e.g., the Janus Gate symbolized both peace and war, peace when it was closed (which was quite rare prior to the Pax Romana under Augustus) and war when it was open.

      interpreting janus as a symbol of duplicitly is a more modern cast of the roman god.
    • Um, no. Janus represents beginnings and endings, and was also the god of doors and gateways (hence looking back and looking forward). He was not related to hypocrisy.

      The modern connotation of "two-faced" didn't appear until much, much later (middle ages, I believe).
    • Nope (Score:3, Informative)

      by goldcd ( 587052 ) *
      Janus was custodian of the universe and guardian of keys, locks and portals. Had two faces to indicate watchfulness and also to represent looking both into the past and future.
  • I smell a plant. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by haunebu ( 16326 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @02:43AM (#10115638) Homepage
    What's with the month old news? The linked articles were all published August 2nd through 4th.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This device doesn't have to kill the iPod mini. In a world where Apple has to license a killer product to HP to solve the under capacity of it's manufacturers, Rio just has to put a comparable device into the market to reap the benefits.

    The fact that Rio made it with better specs than iPod mini will likely help it with consumers who want the most bang for the buck. This is probably a good strategy if you're going after the late comers to the market (after the early adopter's demand has been met). Howeve
    • I'd venture to guess the small run is because they can't get drives in volume. When they first came out people were ripping the 4GB drive out of the ipod mini and selling it on ebay for almost $100 more than the player cost alone. Apple has to be purchasing a massive quantity of these drives to get a discount that heavy. Rio is likey looking for a more stable supplier, or unable to buy the drives cheap enough yet, and so is limiting the run to limit losses.
      • No, the small run is because this is the "Limited Edition". It's a promotional gimmick. They've already started the run of many thousands of regular edition Carbons that are currently starting to stock stores around the US (Some have already purchased units at a couple of Best Buys).
    • Apple isn't licensing the iPod to HP because of low manufacturing capacity, they're actually manufacturing the players for HP and then selling them to them. The iPod has been licensed to HP simply to increase the distribution channel and reach a new demographic. Also, HP is marketing the iPod like crazy now, so it just adds to the marketing hype around the product. There are many good reasons to license the iPod, but manufacturing capacity isn't one of them.

      Additionally, iPod mini supplies were limited due
  • MP3 and WMA only? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Trogre ( 513942 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @02:45AM (#10115645) Homepage
    *Sigh*, no ogg vorbis this time around.

    I think I'll stick with my iriver, thanks.

  • by Fizgig ( 16368 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @02:47AM (#10115655)
    As someone who just had his Rio Karma die a sad, hard-drive clicky death, I don't think I'll be buying another hard drive based music player from Rio until they decide to up the warranty.

    I had 3 Karmas die on me: the first after a month (under warranty; the power button stopped working). Then the replacement died after 2 weeks because an exposed wheel got knocked out of place while it was in my bag. It took over a month to get the third one back from RMA, and that one just died from hard drive failure, out of warranty. Overall, Rio had my karma in RMA longer than I had a working unit.

    I've got most of my music as .ogg files, which is why I got the Karma in the first place. But if they can't produce something which lasts, I say don't bother. What were they thinking, putting exposed moving parts on something people will be putting in backpacks and pockets?
    • by hiryuu ( 125210 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @03:15AM (#10115777)
      I had 3 Karmas die on me...

      That makes two of us. My first one lasted for about six-ish months before kicking the bucket - died the oh-so-common "stuck hard drive" [riovolution.com] problem, where customer service tells you to smack the unit to get it to work again. Ummm, no. Returned to the retailer under the service plan for a new one. Had the new one about two months before the same thing happened. RMA'ed it back to Digital Networks, got a refurb. Had the refurb less than five days before the exact same problem reared its head. That's Karma #3, and it went back to Digital Networks last week while I await a fourth unit.

      I've got most of my music as .ogg files, which is why I got the Karma in the first place.

      Same here. Partly geek-factor, partly because I wanted true stereo and better compression at higher bitrates, yadda yadda yadda. Regardless, I have pretty limited options for a small-form-factor, high-capacity player that suits my needs, so for the time being I'm stuck waiting for another refurb unit. Eventually, I may just re-rip my entire collection and start over with a different codec.

      • by sessamoid ( 165542 ) * on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @06:30AM (#10116248)
        Eventually, I may just re-rip my entire collection and start over with a different codec.

        That's exactly what I did. I had started to encode my CD collection to vorbis, but gave it up after I realized hardware support was going to suck. I ended up encoding the collection in FLAC, then batch encoded all the FLAC files to LAME APS. This gives me the flexibility to use any portable player, in my case it ended up being iPod and iTunes.

    • by Lost Dragon ( 632401 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @04:45AM (#10116016)
      Boy, sounds like some bad Karma there buddy.

      Thank you! Thank you. I'm hear all weekend. Try the veal.
  • I don't see any Xiph.org formats listed anywhere which means it's quite useless to me.
  • by Hellasboy ( 120979 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @02:53AM (#10115687)
    It's 500 for the limited edition Rio Carbon. The only difference between the limited edition and the regular version is a "collectors box", laser engraving, and a 3 month - 20 song pass on napster.
    http://www.digitalnetworksna.com/email/r io/LE/
    • "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!" Catch-22"

      This quote is usually attributed to Emiliano Zapata, leader of the 1910 Mexican revolution; in Catch-22, it's only there to serve as an excuse for the boring retort: "It is better to live on your feet than to die on your knees" ...

  • Mac support? (Score:5, Informative)

    by cei ( 107343 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @02:56AM (#10115698) Homepage Journal
    They claim OS X support, but then on their software page only have the firmware as an EXE... Guess Mac users never have to reflash their player?
  • Again: no radio :( (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Baki ( 72515 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @02:58AM (#10115707)
    This is so strange, just like the Ipod it doesn't have a built-in radio. I can't imagine why, the extra cost and size is minimal, and many people want to hear radio (news) occasionally.

    It is strange since all MP3 players from taiwan/japan and european manufacturers have radios (often even the capability to record radio directly). Just Apple and RIO don't. Is it an american peculiarity, is radio so impopular in the US?
    • What is this "radio" of which you speak?
    • I just buy the top ten songs on ITMS every ten months or so and that pretty well replaces FM radio for me. At least I get the same content.

      If I want a "morning drive" program I just swear randomly into a microphone for a few minutes and add that to the playlist I have on random.
  • man, it seems like the media keeps coming out with these new "ipod killer" ads, yet most consumers just look at it as non-ipod-trash. well, maybe not, but -- it seems none of these are really hurting the ipod's sales enough to earn them such titles.
  • Poor hardware (Score:5, Informative)

    by I_redwolf ( 51890 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @02:58AM (#10115710) Homepage Journal
    Rio has consistently had poor hardware and hardware that consistently fails. I bought 5 rio devices for friends/family some time ago. None of them survived over 3 months and all the work to get new equipment wasn't worth the hassle. The mp3 players in specific just consistently continued to fail. After a good three tries everyone just gave up. Just to be sure I didn't get a bad batch a couple of people also said their rio devices died on them.

    I don't care what they make, I won't be buying rio ever again. Obviously this is just an observation of my experiences and other third party heresay. However that's a total of a good 10 people. Enough to tell me that it's not just me. Most of them got ipods already and my brother just got one as well.

    So i'm gonna just get myself an ipod and see how it fairs. I'd do the whole christmas buy an ipod thing but this time around i'll just think of something else.
  • by dougman ( 908 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @03:46AM (#10115879)
    Roget's Thesaurus: Entry 19 (Imitation) - [snipped down to a list of words I felt were most applicable]

    copying, duplication, reproduction, xerox, facsimile, simulation, impersonation, personation, semblance, parody, take-off, lampoon, caricature, plagiarism, forgery, counterfeit, imitator, echo, parrot, mime, imitate, copy, mirror, reflect, reproduce, repeat, do like, match, mimic, simulate, impersonate, follow suit, follow the example of, walk in the shoes of, take a leaf out of another's book, strike in with, follow suit, take after, model after, emulate, mimic.

    Finally, in the words of Wordsworth, "like - but oh! how different! "

    Thanks to the Project Gutenberg thesaurus
  • by Shutupthenragedlobst ( 809657 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @03:57AM (#10115907)
    I registered an account just to post on this topic. For Rio to beat anything at all they'd have to have equal customer service. As it stands they don't. I own a karma. The shitty rio stick broke. I am a real careful guy so I don't know how it happened but the piece of shit broke. Literally broke right off. I don't want to lambaste the mechanical design but the workmanship just seemed shoddy. Then the rio wheel slipped off. All within 2 months of ownning the thing. Fine maybe I got a shitty one whatever I'll RMA it. First thing I noticed customer service is outsourced and is area code 650. Meaning I had to pay to talk to someone who can only handle tier 1 problems. Fine, that's the way it's down now. Sure enough after 3 15 minute phonecalls and two messed up RMA numbers given to me on " accident " I got my RMA number, sent the package in. To an address in Texas. Paid for priorty mail. Fine. Package got lost. Of course. Called Back to 650 customer service. Had it escalated from call center in India to something called legacy support - another third party CS agency. Within the span of one month they had done nothing to return my calls so I began emailing them They intially explained the lack of calls as they had gotten the wrong address and phone number for me; someone in India took my information down incorrectly. They (Rio Customer service) ended up discussing my situation with someone who they thought was my wife. I am not married, and don't even live in the same state as the person they called. They then got the tracking number I e-mailed them wrong 6 times. I wanted to document to them that I emailed it but they got it wrong 6 fucking times. I put in the number in the title the signature, everywhere. They still got it wrong. Mind you they never once called me back. Eventually I cut and pasted it from the USPS website. Magically they then learned that I was in fact telling the truth, but that no one at their texas RMA office could be found to sign for the package so it was never documented as being recieved. Finally I got the matter escalated to a supervisor. At this point it had been one and half months. They not only refused to give me the supervisor's e-mail. They refused to return my phone calls. This lasted two weeks. I finally faxed a copy of every e-mail to their coroporate office, two days later I got a response via e-mail my karma would arrive today. It did. So after nearly two months and 30$ I got it back. Yay. Sorry I just had to rant and wanted to warn peopel about RIO. I'll be making a webpage filled with e-mails and dates and times documenting the veracity of my claim. So it's not that I wish to drum up support here. Please note though that when you buy from a company you buy into their customer service. I own a ibook. I've had amazing customer service from apple. I have had the worst customer service expierence of my life with RIO. That in my opinion is why Rio can't be an Ipod Killer. They don't have the customer service for it.
    • Apple needs to hire the Microsoft astroturfers because you guys suck. ;->
    • by Twirlip of the Mists ( 615030 ) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @08:23AM (#10116723)
      Sorry to post twice, but I forgot to mention this before. Here's your study in contrasts.

      I bought an original Apple iPod back when they first were introduced. A couple of months ago the hard drive in it died, and rather than pay the $270 Apple wanted to fix it, I decided to spend about another $100 and get a new model. Upgrade and all that.

      Well, wouldn't you know it, I got a bad one. It worked fine out of the box for a couple of days, but then it froze up and couldn't be reset.

      I called Apple (I ordered my iPod online) and the guy checked my ZIP code and told me to take it to the Apple store at such-n-such address. I did, waited in line for about 20 minutes (during which I surfed the Net on the G5 at the store). I showed the guy behind the counter my iPod, and he said, "Wait just a minute, please." And he disappeared in the back with my iPod.

      About a minute later, seriously in almost no time at all, he emerged and said, "Here you go." And he handed me a brand-new, still-in-the-shrinkwrap iPod box.

      Me: "Huh?"

      The Guy: "Here's your new iPod. Sorry for the inconvenience."

      Me: "What's the catch?"

      There was no catch. If your iPod breaks and it's under warranty, take it to an Apple store. They will hand you a new one and send you home. No Bangalore call center, no RMA, no waiting 2-3 weeks, none of that. Just "Here's your new iPod. Sorry for the inconvenience."

      That was just cool.
  • by mcbevin ( 450303 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @04:24AM (#10115965) Homepage
    *sigh* ..... seems like every month Slashdot posts the new 'ipod slayer' or 'ipod killer'.

    What the slashdot crowd seems to fail to realise is that releasing a device with a bigger hard drive or longer battery life or some other fancy technical specification doesn't make it an 'ipod killer'. The ipod excels in many other areas - design, ease-of-use, reputation etc.

    Making it worse, these 'ipod killers' are often a joke. They'll have say one technical aspect thats better than the ipod, but on pretty much everything else will fail (i.e. a bigger hard drive but crappy user interface and too big and ugly design etc). Sony's 'ipod killer' is the worst example - release a device crippled with DRM and requiring transcoding to Sony's dead ATRAC format with the resulting awful sound quality and post on slashdot about it killing the ipod. Which is of course a pity because Sony's engineers - if they weren't handcuffed by their music division - could very likely produce a superior product.

    The ipod will of course not remain dominant forever, but it'll take more than a device with just a big hard drive or battery - and with only 500 available - to remove it from the throne.
  • by TheLoneCabbage ( 323135 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @04:43AM (#10116012) Homepage

    Rio has a habit of producing mp3 devices that are dependent on propriatary windows software.

    I was considering the rio-nitrus for a while untill I found out that it used an encrypted hard drive, and was in NO WAY compatible with Linux.

    And it also remains to be seen how much it will cost to replace this battery in 1yrs time when they start wearing out.

    Seriously, can anyone give me a GOOD reason why a company, like Rio, would not want other people to write extensions to thier devices?

  • by bryan1945 ( 301828 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @04:52AM (#10116026) Journal
    If I slapped a nice LCD screen on top of a cassette player and stuck in my sneaker, could I get /. to call it the next iPod obliterator/dominator/masticator? How about taping a transistor radio to a toothbrush (get all your favorite music AND good dental hygiene!).

    Seriously, every single portable media player is touted as an iPod killer. Can't something be a competitor, or alternative, or just hanging out having a smoke?

    Not that I really care, I don't own an iPod, but these "killer" headlines are starting to sound like the "BSD is dead" troll.
  • by Long-EZ ( 755920 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @05:59AM (#10116170)
    I wish Rio wasn't trying to be an "iPod killer" and ripping off Apple to such a large degree. Sure, Apple is good at hitting the largest segment of the market (often techno-fashionistas), but once they own that, there is a lot of room for those of us who want something else. And the laser engraving on the first 500 Rio Carbons will serve as a constant reminder that you paid 30% more to debug their beta firmware.

    I'd like to see THIS digital music player:

    Inexpensive and reliable 60+ GB notebook hard drive.

    More battery capacity, in an inexpensive, standard, replaceable battery format.

    Larger display, for my 40 something eyes.

    Standard hard drive file storage, so I can mount it and drag & drop files. Works with any OS, no special music download software needed, can serve as a portable data backup or transfer device.

    Support for all popular audio codecs, including MP3, Ogg, etc.

    No digital rights management crap. I rip my CDs and copy them to the player. Period. I don't need the RIAA in my business every time I want to copy my CD to my portable player.

    Hotswap cradle to charge the player, copy tunes and connect to external powered speakers, just like my my Karma 20.

    A good built in FM transmitter so an FM car radio can be used.

    Admittedly, most people want a "smaller is better" MP3 player, not the less expensive 2X sized device I'd like to have, but I think there's a market for it. I have no use for a 5 GB player that stores 1/3 of my CD collection. I can see a use for tiny 256 MB players for people who want a couple of albums while they run, bike, commute, etc. But I'm spoiled by carrying my entire music collection. I frequently have a chance meeting with someone and play an obscure song for them, and the odds it'd be in a 256 MB device are slim. Besides, I never know what I want to hear ahead of time.

    Bonus! Here's a free music download link from Tempus that I saw on /. Good stuff, reminiscent of Dave Mathews: http://www.tempusband.com/mp3.html [tempusband.com]

    • Sounds like you want an Archos. Popping the cover off and replacing the internal AA's is easy when they don't hold a charge anymore. The drives are big, the format is standard, and the screens are respectable, especially with the video-capable units. You'll have to keep wishing in the FM radio department.

      I totally agree, by the way, about carrying my whole collection with me. Right now my laptop is my primary music player, and with a 40 gig drive, it happily holds everything I could want to audition for so
  • by amichalo ( 132545 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @10:45AM (#10118153)
    By making 500 units, Rio is really making a statement.

    Unlike the iPod mini, which was so successful it blew away Apple's ability to manufacture to meet demand (hence the production run joke), Rio is taking a wait and see approach by only investing in the production of 500 of these units.

    My wild-ass-guess is that they want to project market demand with the first run and if numbers come out the way they want, they will build more. If not, then on to the next iPod mini Burninator [homestarrunner.com].

    This may be a good for Rio but bad for the early addopters of the pilot devices who get left with an uncommon Rio unit that may well be unsupported soon.

    The iPod mini is a sure thing at the same $249 price point and, oh yeah, it plays Fairplay tracks so you don't have to support the evil that is WMA.
  • Why, God? WHY? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Raptor CK ( 10482 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @12:32PM (#10119433) Journal
    So you can engrave it.

    It comes in a stylish cardboard cube.

    It holds music on a tiny hard drive.

    It costs $250.

    It's small.

    It uses a D-Pad almost exactly like my Treo 600.

    I'm sorry, but the Treo *sucks* as a media player, and that D-Pad is the main reason *why* it sucks.

    It sounds good enough, pTunes handles all the right formats... But it's a bear to control. It's like driving an ice cream truck by gesturing emphatically.

    This could be an iPod Mini killer, but it needs a better UI.
  • by xombo ( 628858 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @07:50PM (#10124005)
    How can this be an iPod killer if only 500 are availible? Not only will it be low yield, low profit, but it doesn't stand a chance of being widely accepted. I highly doubt people will drop their iPod Mini to grab one of these things. It's not an iPod Mini killer, it simply cannot be.

Last yeer I kudn't spel Engineer. Now I are won.