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Music Media

Where are the non-SDMI MP3 Players? 550

alen asks: "I'm in the market for an MP3 player. I've been looking at various models and they all seem to be SDMI ready or compliant. Looking at customer reviews on Amazon confirms this as you'll find at least one person saying you can't transfer the music from the MP3 player to your PC. At least on the newer players you do." I've been resisting the urge to get an MP3 player for precisely this reason, opting to use my laptop and a cassette adaptor for those long driving trips, but this is hardly affordable or efficient. Handhelds might work, but memory is a problem here. Are there any players out there that haven't forgotten the "fair" part in "fair-use"?

"So far I have narrowed my search to 3 choices. I want it to sound very good and be able to play music encoded at 128kb or higher.

The Rio Volt 250 is a CD based player so the SDMI thing doesn't really apply. The Creative Labs Nomad II" proudly displays this as a feature. The Samsung Yepp doesn't use SDMI, but something called SecuMax as stated in the Nomad II technical specs on Amazon. And this little tid bit on the Samsung Yepp homepage confirms that SecuMax is just like SDMI.

Now I'm not looking to download any illegal music from the Internet. I simply want to listen to my CD collection on the train to work or while working out. And there is freely downloadable music out there. If I were to download a song at work or a friend's house, put it in my MP3 player I then wouldn't be able to transfer it back to my PC at home to add to my collection. Where is 'fair use' when the artist is giving away their music for free? And I don't have the link, but what of the recent surges in so called 'secure' CD's that one can't rip into MP3's? Where is the 'fair use' there? Or are we supposed to purchase multiple copies of the same music in different formats?"

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Where are the non-SDMI MP3 Players?

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  • iPod? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jspectre ( 102549 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @01:00PM (#2619567) Journal
    Anther point for the iPod.. No nasty copy-protection. :-)
    • Re:iPod? (Score:3, Funny)

      by pi radians ( 170660 )
      Not true. There is a sticker on it that specifically states "Don't steal music".

      Now you know.
      • Re:iPod? (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by frankie ( 91710 )
        "Don't steal music" [google.com]

        Here's a treat for paranoiacs: the Invisible bit [google.com] on the iPod's music folder probably counts as a protection mechanism under the DMCA.

        I love Macs, but Apple's lawyers [google.com] are absolutely rabid. It could happen. :-)
    • Re:iPod? (Score:3, Informative)

      by mblase ( 200735 )
      Except you can't sync the iPod's playlists to more than one Mac. (However, you can copy it manually, which is more than these other players seem to be doing.)
      • Re:iPod? (Score:5, Informative)

        by toupsie ( 88295 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @01:35PM (#2619860) Homepage
        I have had my iPod for a little over a week now and its very trivial to copy files from the mp3 storage area to your mac. In Mac OS X, just hop to the "Terminal" and do a "cp -R /Volumes/[iPod Name]/Music/* ~/Music" and it moves across nicely.
        • Re:iPod? (Score:4, Funny)

          by sllort ( 442574 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @02:16PM (#2620086) Homepage Journal
          In Mac OS X, just hop to the "Terminal" and do a "cp -R /Volumes/[iPod Name]/Music/* ~/Music" and it moves across nicely.

          You fool! Your comment is a circumvention device! I hope you posted it from an anonymous relay, because the RIAA Thought Police are already mobilized. Your comment is a "digital crowbar", it will be used by millions to deprive starving recording artists of their royalty proceeds! Jack Valenti is currently mobilizing an army [cnn.com], if I were anywhere near the Slashdot server room I'd leave the area immediately. Laser-guided "smart bombs" aren't always perfect for accuracy.
          • Re:iPod? (Score:3, Funny)

            by toupsie ( 88295 )
            Oh sh*t! The last thing I need is the Sensible Shoe Wearing, Amazon Warriorette of the RIAA chasing me down for my DMCA violation! I am now going into hiding in a country where freedom of speech still matters.
    • ?

      I thought that once a song gets onto the iPod you can't get a copy back off it in digital form.
      • The iPod basically works as an external firewire drive with an MP3 player built into it, so the files are there if you access the iPod like a drive.

    • Re:iPod? (Score:3, Funny)

      by MrEfficient ( 82395 )
      Aha, but have you noticed the almost subliminal message on the commercial? Near the end of the commercial, at the bottom of the screen are the words, "Don't steal music". After viewing this commercial several times, I found that I was unable to download music off the internet. Apple is clearly making use of copy protection schemes, they just use different methods. What do you think, "Think Different" means?

  • Memory on handhelds (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bnatale ( 532324 )
    Memory is not a problem with handhelds. Get one that uses compact flash cards and you even can use a 1GB IBM Microdrive. I use an iPAQ with a microdrive as mp3 player and it works great. The only problem is the size and the battery.
  • archos jukebox (Score:5, Informative)

    by theridersofrohan ( 241712 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @01:02PM (#2619581) Homepage
    Try the archos jukebox (http://www.archos.com )

    A hard drive based solution, comes at 6GB-20GB flavors, works under Linux (I'm using it with the usb-storage module), and I got it for around £150 (british pounds).

    Great for transfering data as well: Windows finds it as a normal drive, and I can mount it under linux (vfat).

    • Re:archos jukebox (Score:2, Interesting)

      by alek202 ( 462912 )
      Altough the software still has a few minor bugs, it is a very good box (don't forget you get a *real* usb hard drive for your money also). I have the Archos Jukebox Recorder [archos.com] which I primarly use for professional audio recording (yes, that's right, we use it to create live cuts of our DJ sets at various clubs). At the studio [monday-rec.com], I just plug the recorder into the workstation, and upload the realtime-encoded MP3s to the web. Unfortunately, the Jukebox Recorder only does VBR encoding, but with around 170kbps it is sufficent.

    • Re:archos jukebox (Score:3, Informative)

      by Quaryon ( 93318 )
      I second this - I'm listening to my jukebox 6000 as I write. I've ripped out the original 6Gb hard disk (you can now get a 20Gb version too, called the "studio 20") and inserted a 30Gb one - since it takes standard 9.5mm height 2.5" drives this is quite a simple operation, and it uses a normal FAT filesystem so you can use all the normal tools on it (defrag, scandisk, whatever..) The PC sees it as an extra drive using the standard USB hard disk mechanism so it works under Windows or Linux, and I believe Mac as well (I don't have a Mac so I can't test it..)

      It has a few idiosyncrasies so it's well worth reading the list at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/archosjukebox6000 [yahoo.com] (requires registration) to pick up all the necessary hints and tips - the support there is probably better than you will get from Archos themselves.

      The JB6K has the advantage that you can copy whatever files you want onto it - if they're MP3 format it will play them, if not it will ignore them so you can use it just as an external portable hard disk. It'll cope with MP3's encoded up to 320kbit/s CBR or VBR. It also has upgradable firmware so theoretically it could be made to support other sound formats although there doesn't seem to be any sign that Archos are moving towards this.

    • by isaac ( 2852 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @01:22PM (#2619761)
      I agree with the parent that Archos seems to have the best MP3 devices at the moment. In particular, though, I would recommend staying away from their cheaper "Jukebox 6000" and "Studio 20" products, in favor of their "Jukebox Recorder" machine.

      Highlights of this thing?
      - Works great on any OS that supports USB storage devices; when attached, mounts like any other USB hard disk. Will store anything you put on there.
      - Hackable; will take any 9.5mm 2.5" laptop hard disk. I replaced the stock 6 GB disk with a 20 GB mechanism without any problems.
      - Unlike the cheaper models, the Recorder (which goes for around $300-$350 these days) does real-time MP3 recording from analog line-in, digital SPDIF, or an onboard mic!
      - Digital in doubles as digital out when not recording.
      - The Recorder has a MUCH, MUCH BETTER interface than the cheaper jukeboxes, with an 8-line screen that during playback shows ID3 info (or directory info if file is untagged), elapsed/remaining/total time, left and right VU meters, and labels for the three soft-button function keys.
      - Also, the recorder has greatly superior sound compared to the cheaper jukeboxes, with base/treble/loudness/balance adjustments and plenty of volume.

      And of course, no SDMI anywhere in sight. The iPod looks nicer, and firewire is cool, but with a 20 gig disk in mine, I've got 4x the capacity of an iPod in a package not much bigger, with digital i/o and real-time mp3 recording abilities. Oh yeah, 10-hour battery life, too, using standard replacable NiMH AA cells.

    • Mine just died on me :-( The hard disk has failed with one of those nice click-click-click sounds. A word of warning, when I went to try and get some support about this I was told to write in French (I'm in Ireland) so I wrote to the US instead and got no reply.

      The machine was good while it lasted with easy use under Linux (2.4.9+ but 2.4.11 for easy use cause they forgot to mention the config before then) and Windows. The only problem was 6Gb just wasn't enough by a long way. I now have the chance to return the unit for a full refund and I think I will to get something bigger.

      Great idea, pity it only lasts two months (yep I know I was probably unlucky but so be it)
    • I can heavily recommend the Jukebox as well. I got one in February and so far haven't had any problems with it.

      It's slightly smaller and weighing less than the Nomad, with the batteries making up for a good deal of the weight.

      Batteries are also another important plus about the Jukebox with only the minor annoyance of the stupid lids. But it uses regular NiMH AA batteries so you can buy the comparably cheap batteries yourself instead of buying some expensive battery pack.

      The 4 batteries usually last for at least 4 hours, though I found it seems to heavily depend on the battery quality (and on the mA, of course).

      The only nitpick I have is that their website is shoddy scripted crap.
    • Re:archos jukebox (Score:5, Interesting)

      by toupsie ( 88295 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @01:53PM (#2619959) Homepage
      I own an Archos Jukebox 6000 but just switched to an iPod. Its a good mp3 player however copying files via USB is like pulling teeth. It takes about 5 to 6 hours to fill up its 6 gig HD. My iPod only takes 12 minutes to fill up its 5 gig HD via firewire. Granted, the Archos is compatible with Linux and Windows which probably makes it more useful for most folks on Slashdot.
  • by night_flyer ( 453866 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @01:03PM (#2619585) Homepage
    might be a little more bulky, but you dont have to worry about a memeory chip going bad, and you can pack around 150 songs at a higher bitrate on a cd and know what you have in the player.

    as for copying "back" to your collection, if its such a big deal to steal the music, borrow the CD and rip it yourself.
    • I second this opinion. I make CD-Rs full of 256kbit/sec MP3s out of my audio cd collection. There are plenty of devices that can play these now including half of the dvd players on shelves out there today.
    • There are some problems with the CD option. I personally want a solid state option, because I do not want the damn thing to skip when I'm working out.

      The CD option is great if you have a burner and just need it for your daily commute. This is not at all an option for highly-active people, however. The solid state ones are smaller, more rugged, and skip-free.
      • never said there wernt problems :)

        for working out/excessive movement, the memory chip models are definitally the way to go, but from my stand point, I can archive my Music collection, and play the same medium on my home system, my computer system at work and in my car once I purchase that piece of equipment.
    • The Rio Volt 250 is a CD based player so the SDMI thing doesn't really apply

      nuff said...
    • Seriously, are moderators smoking crack nowadays or what? How MORE ON-TOPIC can this post get???

  • iPod (Score:4, Informative)

    by Green Light ( 32766 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @01:03PM (#2619594) Journal
    For the FireWire-equipped PeeCee (or Mac, obviously), you can not only carry your music collection (or at least a large percentage of it) around with you, but can transfer the files to any suitably equipped machine. The music files are in an invisible directory on the iPod, and are easy to find.
  • Burn your MP3 on CDs and play them in a Philips eXpanium [zdnet.com]...
    10 hours of music in a Discman-like device.
    • Re:Philips eXpanium (Score:3, Informative)

      by Picass0 ( 147474 )
      My wife gave me a Philips Expanium recently. I'd say the pros outweigh the cons. The sound is good, I don't get too much skipping, and when I insert a disc, the scan process will look for mp3s on any disc. I have old archive discs where I have zip files and misc. data mixed with my mp3s, and I have no problems listening to these discs.

      My biggest gripe is the display sucks. I would like to have a scrolling text message, but instead the display gives you a number for the directory (album) and file (song).

      It's a bit bulkier than the nifty little solid state devices, but I have 301 They Might Be Giants songs on the disc in my player right now. The mini players with large memory cost more, while the Expanium sells for for only 90 US dollars.

      I picked up a 20 hour rechargable lead battery at Radio Shack (part number 23-505) and replaced the headphones with a Kenwood KPM-510 headset. I usually keep the thing in a bookbag anyway, so the bulk doesn't bother me.
  • by irq ( 68200 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @01:05PM (#2619605)
    The original Rio PMP300 will let you take files out of it, as long as you don't use the software that came with it. If you use the *nix rio tool by the Snowblind Alliance, you can put any file in the rio, and take any file out of the rio, and use it as a generic storage device, albeit not a very good one because SmartMedia is expensive. The limitation on pulling stuff out of it is only in the rio desktop software.
  • by elmegil ( 12001 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @01:05PM (#2619611) Homepage Journal
    "Fair Use" in the context of copyright has a pretty specific meaning. It has to do with use of sections of a copyrighted work for review purposes and for educational purposes (among others, I make no claim to being complete in my description). But it has nothing to do with "that's not fair" as both the poster and the editor seem to believe.

    C'mon people, we won't be taken seriously if we can't even learn the jargon.

    • C'mon people, we won't be taken seriously if we can't even learn the jargon.

      Wait - I believe almost everyone here will tell you they believe fair use to mean 'If I buy a song/movie, I can make copies of that said media for MY personal use only. This is commonly referred to as 'fair-use' and grew out of the rulingas and laws passwed when VCRs first came onto the scene. Now the jargon may be wrong, though EVERYONE seems to use it when referring to this scneario) SO if the term fair-use isn't the right term IYHO for personal copying for personal use, what is?

    • C'mon people, we won't be taken seriously if we can't even learn the jargon.

      Frag the jargon.. they'll take us seriously when we don't buy their SDMI 'enhanced' crap and instead go around/through them.

      There is no encryption that cannot be broken

      There is no hardware that cannot be hacked

      But there is no way to remove or restrain my desire to exercise the rights guaranteed to a U.S. citizen under the U.S. Constitution - and Fair Use does mean the ability for me to make a back-up copy of the material I have lawfully purchased. Too bad for the corps if it is in a format they do not approve of.

    • I believe the "fair" part they are talking about relates to time shifting and media conversion.
      It's fair use to copy an LP to cassette so you can play it in your car.
      It's fair use to copy a CD to cassette so you can play it in your car.
      It's fair use to convert a CD to mp3 so you can play it in your computer/mp3 player.

      The fair use part is that you bought it once. You shouldn't have to buy it for every media type on the planet.

      Even under the "license" model. The person has purchased a license to listen to a piece of music. The media in which it is stored is irrelevant. Of course if the RIAA ever switched to a convoluted EULA like MS's...

    • C'mon people, we won't be taken seriously if we can't even learn the jargon.

      Why not abandon their language and re-frame the situation in new verbage? Never underestimate the ability of time and money to propagandize ideas. The intellectual property advocates use the language they do for good reason, they define the terms of the debate, they pronounce the foundations of the situation, they organize the logic so the only conclusion can be the one they desire.

      It is a very basic debating technique to question the basic assumptions of anothers arguemnt, when you disprove the foundation, something they rely upon, you can more easily disprove (by re-defining) their further conclusions - think house of cards.

      Why do you think the government talks in rhetoric and half-truths as they do? Its a trick of language, "learning their jargon" will only give the RIAA/MPAA/Plutocrats a head start in making you "wrong".

  • Rio 500 (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bullschmidt ( 69408 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @01:05PM (#2619612)
    Its old, so you probably can't buy it new, but the RIO 500 rocks. It uses SmartMedia, has no copy protection, and came with 64MB built in. The smartmedia cards are now pretty cheap, so its not too bad to buy lots of these tiny cards. It has pretty good battery life (a little less than 10 hours if you are actively - triggering the backlite - using it). It runs on a single AA, is rugged, and light. It has nice sound quality (the earphones that come with it suck though). I recommend one if you can find it.
    • Re:Rio 500 (Score:3, Informative)

      another vote for the R500 - i've got one and it's great. The only caveats:

      -the off/lock/on switch. When trying to lock the player it's TOO easy to turn it off. And it doesn't remember the place in the song you were - only what song. It's stupid, but i hit this all the time and it's annoying. The switch should be off/on/lock, or put lock on another switch.

      -the supplied headphones are sucky. Spend $15 and get another set.

      -i get a min of 10hours out of a single AA battery. Kickass.

      -i don't think it takes >64MB smartmedia cards (i may be wrong). I always downsample the stuff to the portable at 96Kbs, so that gets me a good 2 hours with minimal glitches.

      -it may be just my player, but it's not very shock resistant. i use it at the gym, and if it gets tapped with even more than a slight touch it jumps songs and stops playing (even when locked). Maybe a lose wire somewhere, but it's always done it.

      otherwise - highly recommended.
  • by Chanc_Gorkon ( 94133 ) <gorkonNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @01:05PM (#2619613)
    If your worried about SDMI, then the CD based ones ar the way to go. CD's fit an INCREDIBLE amount of music on it (most fit more then I would need for the six hour trip down to my parents house.......), they are reliable, cheap and best of all, if you decide to buy a regular CD on the road, just pop it in and your jamming. I plan on getting one soon. I know, they are not as sexy and small as the solid state ones, but you can't beat them right now. to get 650 megs of storage on a small mp3 player is impossible as well as expensive unless someone figures out a way to use or build cheaper chips.
  • The Archos Jukebox [archos.com] is a combination USB hard drive (6 gig, upgradeable) and MP3 player. It exerts absolutely no control over what you put on the hard drive, and works with any computer with a USB driver. (I don't know what the included "MusicMatch" software is for, I never installed it.)

    It is a little bulky for carying around, but is great for use in the car and office.

  • I've never understood any good scenarios for copying from a portable player to a PC. It seems to me that if you managed to put a song which you own on the portable in the first place, then you have a copy _already_on_ your PC. If you want to move the song from PC to PC, a LAN or even a ZIP disk seems to be far more efficient than using the portable as the transfer mechanism.

    Am I missing something obvious?
  • NexII (Score:2, Informative)

    by twenex ( 139462 )
    Check out the NexII from FrontierLabs [frontierlabs.com]. It is $99 with 0 memory, but takes compactflash cards. They are < $90 for 256MB these days (check out Pricewatch [pricewatch.com]).

    When you get to work, offload the CompactFlash card with a PCMCIA adaptor ($12) to your laptop or a USB adaptor ($25) to your desktop.

    Oh, I should mention, the NexII sounds good too, but you want to dump the headphones they ship.

  • by aclute ( 94263 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @01:07PM (#2619627)
    Let us not forget: Fair-use means that it is not illegal to make a back-up copy, or to timeshift, etc, if you can do it.

    Fair-use is not a doctrine that states the owners must make it *easy* to copy, or even possible.

    Now the DMCA makes it a little bit sticky inregards to being able to copy stuff for fair-use, but even pre-DMCA, there was no contract between seller and buyer that the seller would make it easy to copy.
    • It not always being "easy" to make fair use of things wasn't a great situation, but it was tolerable.

      The DMCA makes any fair use that isn't "easy" illegal, which makes the whole situation much worse.

      It is worse to the point of being intolerable - what good is fair use if it is illegal to make use of it if the copyright owner doesn't want you to - fair use is NOT a check on copyright owner's power if the copyright owner can make it illegal to exercise it - thus the balance between copyright and the First Amendment is GONE and the current law is unconstitutional.

      Judge Kaplan disregarded fair use protection clauses and exemptions written directly into the DMCA itself and found against the defendants (they were ordered to pay the court for the "privilege" of being persecuted by the court).

      So don't expect the Constitution to save you.
  • iPod (Score:2, Informative)

    by Xibby ( 232218 )
    What about the iPod? I'm not up on it's specs, but plug it into your firewire and it shows up as a hard drive right? (On Mac's anyway ;) And the firmware on the thing is upgradable, so maybe, just maybe, it will suppot ogg sometime in the future. Or somebody will hack ogg support for it.
  • The AVC Soul [soul.com.hk] is essentially the exact same thing as the Volt, right down to the remote and the flashable firmware (although I have yet to hack the firmware for the Volt so that it works on the Soul, but the Soul's latest version is pretty good as well). The nice thing about the Soul is that it also supports m3u playlists (with the 1.05s firmware), it reads CD-RWs (both regularly burned and packet written) and is generally available for $15-20 less than the Rio Volt. The money you save is more than the cost of shipping in most cases too.

    Just my 2 cents.


    • I have a RIO Volt, and it can play CD-RW's as well.

      I would highly reccomend this system. Simply burn firmware upgrades to a CD-RW and the player will upgrade as soon as it sees the file on the CD. Pretty slick.

      Audio quality is fine, although I dont thave the Volt-90 or whatever the cheapie model is (perhaps it has the problems)

      All in all a great system. You can pack quite a bit of music on a 700M CDR. I will listed for hours, sometimes days on end before it loops back to the beginning.
    • Good price on it here [easybuy2000.com]. Check out their other MP3 players too, some good deals.

    • the AVC Soul *IS* the RioVolt. The RioVolt also supports the .m3u files as well as CD-RWs. I believe they may be on slightly different firmware upgrade paths, but they are essentially the same. (Except for the $20 in price)
  • As long as you don't need it to work with XP [google.com] (No Flames Please), then go with the Rio500 [ebay.com].

    They have Windows support (95-2000) that lets you load and erase music on the unit only, while the Linux drivers and apps [freshmeat.net] let you copy music on and off the device. They come with 64 Megs already, and you can add a Smart Media card [ebay.com] for more.

    It's an older MP3 player, sure. Capacity is where you'll take the hit, but if you want to use it as you will, and assuming you're a Linux user, the Rio500 should do fine.

  • MD players (Score:2, Informative)

    by atom6 ( 447637 )
    Another no-copy-protection alternative is Minidisc player/recorders -- I switched from an MP3 player about a year ago and I've been pretty happy. They have their drawbacks and can be slightly more expensive (mine was about $300), but the discs are much cheaper than memory cards and can hold a lot more music (up to 5 or 6 hours in the most extended format), and the audio quality is at least marginally better.
    As far as I know, there is no security technology on the horizon for MD media. And with the USB-based "MD link" that's now included with most players, it's virtually as easy to record things off of a random friend's computer as it would be with an MP3 player.
    The only big drawback is that they record in real time (so, for example, 40 minutes of music would take 40 minutes to record.) And recording from an MD onto your computer is a little bit more of a hassle. But other than that, I'd say they're worth checking out.
  • In a way you answered your own question by listing the Rio Volt CD player as an option. If you burn all your MP3s onto CD, this isn't an issue. Of course, if a machine doesn't have a CD burner on it you won't be able pull music off of it.

    Before you buy a Volt, make sure you listen to one. I bought the cheapie SP90 version for my car. There is an audible chirp/hiss in the audio output. In the car, it's not a major issue, because the hiss is competing with road noise, wind noise and engine noise. But it's definitely not hi-fi enough for headphones or a home system.

    According to a review I saw somewhere (I think it was CNet), the Volt 250 has this same problem, so caveat emptor.

  • Apple iPod (Score:5, Informative)

    by Josuah ( 26407 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @01:14PM (#2619684) Homepage
    The Apple iPod does not have any "anti-piracy" features built in. Specifically, it states something to the effect of "Piracy is a social issue, not a technological one" on the packaging. You can use it with Windows (via Mediafour's XPod [mediafour.com]) or Macs, and probably soon with Linux. If you use the iPod as a portable drive on a Mac, you can simply copy files back and forth at will. But if you use iTunes to sync, the MP3 files are invisible. Some information on this is available here [macobserver.com], and here's a simple utility [www.cooc.de] to access the invisible MP3 files.

    Also, the iPod supports a variety of encodings. It should support up to 256Kbps (or is it 320Kbps?), variable bit rate, joint stereo or normal stereo, because that's what iTunes supports. The 1000 songs it advertises is for 160Kbps songs.

  • Here's a good reccomendation for you:

    I love mine..got a Casio PZ-5000 about a month ago. Its an portable Audio CD + MP3 CD player [mp3shopping.com] , complete with digital shock absorbpion, car casette adapter, headphones, DC to AC converter for plugging into your car's lighter, two batteries and a normal wall-outlet AC adapter for $79.00 ... You can buy them off the rack at CompUSA. That way, you can burn your own Audio CDs, or burn an ISO9660 packed to the brim with MP3s. A remarkably cheap price for such a nice player, basically, an 800MB portable MP3 player for the price. Why anyone would want one of those shitty compact-flash powered MP3 players is beyond me. Then again, if you feel like spending $300 for an MP3 player with less features, be my guest. :)

    • Right now I would like any CD based MP3 player(as a gift for Christmas) but if I were buying my own, I would want a Rio Volt or any with a BIG LCD and that can read ID3 tags. If it navigates by only numbers, it's a real pain in the butt to navigate with only up and down keys and numbers. The Rio Volt (all models) displays ID3 tags. I would also like a genre specific play mode and a album play mode (play all files in a stated folder
  • I've had no trouble with my Samsung Yepp. AFAIK it needs windows software to transfer files, but it doesn't care a lick about what the files are or where they came from. My LAME encoded VBR files sound fantastic on it. Stuff obtained elsewhere on the Internet is fine too.

    Considering it comes with 128MB out of the box, it's a good buy. I advise however ditching the headphones and the remote, and plugging a good pair of headphones directly into the unit. I only wish for a better design and a built-in rechargable battery with charging stand.
    • I should note I was speaking of the "Techno Yepp," as opposed to the CD, Hip-Hop, Mini, or Pendant Yepp.

      • Part of the SDMI spec (what we have seen) has been that the devices should be timebomb activated, meaning that the really audacious limitations could just pop up one morning when the RIAA feels you are sufficiently in the trap. It could also make that windows software you are trusting update the player firmware to whatever ridiculous scheme they have invented that day without even warning you.

        Trusting that the the company is only playing lip service to the enemy is a gamble, and not one I would recommend people taking.
  • Nomad Jukebox (Score:2, Interesting)

    You can copy mp3s back to a system with the latest firmware for the Nomad Jukebox.
  • by ryanvm ( 247662 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @01:18PM (#2619722)
    The term "fair use" simply means that you cannot be prosecuted for letting your friend read your book, or copying your CDs to different media and so on. It does not mean that the publishing companies have to make it easy (or even possible) for you to do so.

    Basically, "fair use" means you won't get in trouble for a little sharing, but it doesn't mean it'll be easy.

  • by guinsu ( 198732 )
    I have the Rio 100, its great, its ugradable. It doesn't do ogg, but maybe it will some day. And its ability to handle subdirectories is better than any other cd based mp3 player I have seen, letting me keep everything really organized on my discs.
  • by F250SuperDuty ( 65363 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @01:19PM (#2619735) Homepage

    In addition to the subject at hand--are there any recomendations for car-based mp3 head units?
    The Empeg was quite nice--but expensive. Aiwa makes a unit [aiwa.com] that plays MP3's from
    CD-R's, but I've heard horrors about it. Has anyone had experience with an mp3 head unit that
    isn't rumoured to suck?


    • by Anonymous Coward
      go to http://www.carplayer.com and check out there cpm-25 unit. It uses a standard ide hard drive and hooks to your computer as a fat32 format drive. No drivers and no SDMI.
    • I have the Aiwa uint, an my girlfriend has the second version with the mechanical front. It doesn't suck. The only think I would change about it is the gap between songs. What have you heard bad about it? I would recommend it.
    • I had the Aiwa CDC-MP3, and it skipped horribly. I had it replaced and reinstalled three times, but nothing they did could make the unit(s) stop skipping. The lack of an in-song resume was a down point, too. (so when you get back into your car it picks up where you left off instead of at the beginning of the song-- nasty for those 60 minute tracks!)

      I returned it altogether and replaced it with a Kenwood KDC MP-8017. Same basic specs and price as the Aiwa, with a less cheesy display and the ability to resume in the middle of an mp3. Additionally, although the Aiwa sounded fine to me at the time, the Kenwood definitely has a much more accurate sound.

      Missing from both is the ability to do random play across a whole disc. They only do random within a directory.
  • Isn't that dead as a doornail? Deader than OS/2? Deader than even *BSD?

    Seriously, I don't know of any MP3 player that won't play all your ex-Napster or Gnutella/Audiogalaxy/etc. mp3s. My iPod, which I think is fabulous, plays everything I put on it, so long as it's mp3 (sorry no ogg or wma). And I for one am damn sure that I won't run any "up"grade that takes away that ability - and the vendors (except Microsoft) know that too, which is why you don't have anything to worry about.

    But back up your tunes to CD-R anyway, in case of system crashes and other stuff - not just SDMI shenanigans.

  • by MoNsTeR ( 4403 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @01:22PM (#2619752)
    If "SDMI Compliant" means "can't copy from player to PC", then this is a 100% non-issue. Even the original Rio 300 (which I have) doesn't let you do this. Furthermore, I can't really think of a reason you'd *want* to. Why would I want to move only 64MB of mp3's over a slow-ass parallel port connection, when I can download all 6GB of my mp3's from home at 128Kbps? Or just burn some favorites to a CD and bring that to work?

    The only way player-to-PC-copy would be really useful is if you had a hard-drive player, and I believe some of them (Archos Jukebox?) can do that.

    OTOH, if "SDMI Compliant" means something else, then it might be a bigger problem. But if the thing plays standard MP3's, I don't see how there's much to worry about, as there's no way to "trust" an mp3, and thus no way to restrict the player, IF in fact it plays standard files.
    • Here in Canada, the government has this silly idea that you are within your right to make a copy for your personal use of a music/video that someone lends to you. So suppose I go to a friend's house and hear music I like, I could use my portable player to bring it back to my house, making a perfectly legal (in Canada), personal use copy for myself.

      So what we have is a company deciding I'm not allowed to do that, because they say I'm not. Now tell me, why would I encourage that company? I put my money where my mouth is, and I will not buy such a product. This is the reason why I will not buy any SDMI-compliant portable player.
  • I have a usb card reader that allows a SmartMedia to be used as a file system. I copy the files onto that card and slide the card into the nomad. I use the card reader for my camera as well. It's a great solution.
  • by Lawmeister ( 201552 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @01:27PM (#2619789) Homepage
    Nomad v1 mp3 player and a few 32mb flash memory cards. It holds a total of 64MB and is completely SDMI free. With the replacable memory cards, you can have different genres of music for driving/working out etc.

    Additional features are an FM tuner and a voice recorder.

    Here's the link [ebay.com].

    And of course since they are a couple years old, you can pick them up cheap!
  • Take a look at Diva [mydivaplayer.com]. Somewhere on their page it says it's "SDMI capable", but there aren't any handicaps in the current player. I think a lot of companies say they are "SDMI capable" when in reality, SDMI will only matter with SDMIv2. And that has a low chance of ever becoming reality, especially after the watermarking techniques it was to rely on were shown to be nearly worthless.

    The Diva has three main advantages: It's cheap. I got a 128MB version for ~$130. It uses CF memory, which IMHO is about the most standard of the various flash formats. Most importanty, it's a generic USB mass storage device. I just plug it into my laptop and mount /dev/sda1. I can copy files in and out to my hearts content. It just ignores any file that doesn't end in .mp3. No drivers to install. No special software. No mess. No fuss.

    The downsides are that it's rather cheaply made, and the display/controls are a little lacking. But hey, you get what you pay for. The 32MB version can be had for like $70 after rebate. For me, the security of knowing that I would have no driver issues at all outweighed the disadvantages. Oh, it has a voice recording mode too, for what it's worth. I got the MP3128VP, but it looks like they have a new "Music Pen" version coming out. It should work just as well in Linux. The Specs brag about "No drivers with Windows2000/ME" which means it should work fine in any OS with USB mass store drivers.
  • Iomega HipZip (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vsync64 ( 155958 ) <vsync@quadium.net> on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @01:28PM (#2619804) Homepage
    I'm pleased with my HipZip. Cost me ~$150, and for another $99 you can get the car accessory pack, which includes, among other things, a car charger, cassette adapter, and 4 extra disks. I think you can also get this stuff in a giant combo pack which is cheaper.

    The player itself is of good quality; it sounds great both on headphones and plugged into my car stereo. It includes an equalizer and a backlit display. Unfortunately, the OS itself is a bit spartan; there's no way to save the playlist through a power cycle, and the random play function resets itself on every powerup. I suspect these issues may be resolved with a newer version of Dadio [iobjects.com], and for now I just randomize the playlist before loading it onto the player, as tracks are sorted in load order.

    There are several interesting features of this player. The first is that it takes Iomega's 40MB Clik! (now Pocket Zip) disks, which run about $10 each retail. It acts as an ordinary USB mass storage device, which means you can copy any files to/from it without restriction, and also use it to exchange ordinary data files. (Unfortunately, as always with Win98, you can't just plug in the player and copy files; you have to install the drivers first, despite its being a perfectly generic USB disk drive. Completely plug-and-play in Linux, though.)

    The 40MB size of the Clik! disks is a little annoying, but the ability to carry 5 or 6 of the disks around in the media wallet without significant expense makes up for that, and I'm able to store much more music (with the hassle of changing disks) than I was with my Rio 500 expanded to 128MB. Additionally (and this is the reason I bought the player), it will support Ogg Vorbis as soon as the format reaches 1.0. (There is a beta firmware that supports it now, but it won't play files encoded with >beta4.) Ogg Vorbis will let me easily degrade bitrates without re-encoding, and at 96kb/s .ogg I will be able to store quite a bit on 1 disk.

    One interesting problem: When hooked to the line-in of my car CD player [sounddomain.com], there is an audible hiss if I have it simultaneously plugged into the charger. As soon as I disconnect it from the charger, it disappears. I don't know if I wired the stereo strangely or what, because it's not there with headphones. Weird.

  • by Hobbex ( 41473 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @01:30PM (#2619815)
    This shows the real problem we are in for: the enemy controls the hardware. We can always make our own software solutions, but as long as making hardware requires large scale investments we can be sure that it will be under their control. Hardware MP3 players are not the only place where you can see this, another example are the new CDs which cannot be read correctly by CD-ROMs - making a CD drive that ignores the broken error correction codes would be completely possible, but as futile as laws like the DMCA are against us, as well they seem to work (if they are even necessary) against hardware makers.

    This is why having hardware specific for each task, which is often discussed as something good, must be something we cannot allow to happen. Instead, we have to continue to ensure the existance of systems like PCs where things are done in software, which WE can control. We even have to look into moving more PC functionality into software, now that we have processors strong enough for it, as I worry that things like graphic accelerators and sound cards will be future platforms for entertainment industry UHT (User Hostile Technology). The more that is done in software, the more freedom is had by all.

    In the short term, it might still be possible to find dedicated MP3 players that are not UHT (such as the burned CD ones), but in the longer term I think handhelds with strong general purpose CPUs running Linux (preferably decoding OGG of course) is the only real choice. In the longest term, there is a real risk (see for example the "SS"SCA), that general purpose programmable hardware will simply not be allowed, and we will have to hope that an illegal underground market for hardware that is not user hostile will appear...
    • You're absolutely right, and make an excellent point. I do, however, have a lot of faith in people to re-engineer hardware to break through the barriers placed in the way of functionality.

      Back when they proclaimed it illegal to sell police scanners that let you listen to cell-phone frequencies in the 800Mhz range, people came out with a slew of modifications to re-enable the missing frequencies.

      When they sold the Playstation so it wouldn't run copies of game CDs, they released hacked chips to solder in the unit and fix the problem.

      When Apex was forced to quit selling DVD players with the "loophole menu" in them to disable Macrovision and region codes, hackers created custom firmware to flash into them to restore these capabilities.

      As long as individuals remain interested in the inner workings of hardware, control will always be regained from the industry. Keeping control in software just means a larger percentage of the population has the knowledge and ability to make the changes needed.
  • by Dan Nolan ( 159852 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @01:34PM (#2619840)
    I've owned a Nomad Jukebox for almost a year. When I first bought it, the firmware would not allow you to copy files from the device to you computer. But as soon as the first firmware upgrade was release, it did away with this. It claims to have support for SDMI, but only on files the are encoded in particular formats with particular digital rights management software. Mp3s are safe.

    In fact, the latest firmware upgrade now allows you to move any type of file onto the Nomad and back, so you can use it as a portable harddrive!

    (Let's keep Creative Labs lack of SDMI enforcement just between us. We wouldn't want certain powerful industry lobby groups *cough-RIAA* to come down on them.)
    • A friend of mine raves about his nomad (although bemoans a lack of belt clips). I was pondering getting one, but I have to ask: why should I buy one that has SDMI anything at all? I certainly don't want my music restricted. I really don't even want people to thinkthe players that are compliant are widespread, because I want mp3s, not some funky SDMI-encoded file.
  • by iansmith ( 444117 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @01:35PM (#2619854) Homepage
    I have been using a Jornada 540 series Pocket PC for a year now as an MP3 player, and recently upgraded to the 568.

    I get 12 hours of battery life playing MP3's and you can purchace 512 megabyte CF cards for it. Makes an *awesome* player, and can do videos as well as all the PDA stuff.

    A bit expensive, but a neat toy.

  • by ziffie ( 3139 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @01:36PM (#2619861)
    MiniDisc players are a viable alternative to portable mp3 players. The ATRAC compression technology has reached a point where you can store 80/160/320 minutes on a single 80 minute minidisc.

    The units themselves are tiny (most of them are in the 80x16x75mm range) and weigh almost nothing (the Sharp MD-MT770 weighs 128g). The discs are infinitely re-recordable and cost about $1.50 each.

    Depending on the level of compression you record at, shock protection can be up to 160 seconds. Most units have rechargeable batteries and can also use an extra AA for backup yielding incredible battery life -- the MT770 for example can play up to 49 hours on the highest compression level (35 on the regular SP mode).

    One of the coolest advantages they have over mp3 players is that you can record concerts at virtually CD quality sound. Plug a microphone into the in-jack and you can bootleg with ease. Most of the latest recorders feature manually adjustable recording levels (while recording!), automatic 3/5/10 minute timestamping, audio syncing and optical line-in (which means you can optically record mp3s from a computer equipped with optical-out). Some of the Sony recorders (MZ-R700DPC for example) ship with external D/A converter that connects the MD's digital input with your computer's USB port, which makes recording all internet audio formats quite easy.

    You can shuffle tracks around on a disc on the fly, delete them, insert new ones and of course there are the usual random/repeat play modes.

    You can get an entry-level MDLP (2x/4x recording) player/recorder for around $215. Compared to paying $90 for each 256mb flashcard, they are really cost efficient.

    I have a Sharp MD-MT77 which I am quite happy with. I make 5 hour playlists in xmms, plug the recorder into my soundcard's line-out and make mix MDs. 5 hours is a lot of space to work with -- and the quality is quite decent. At 2x (160 minutes), recordings sound virtually like CD quality.

    Check out minidisc.org [minidisc.org] for more information, or minidisco.com [minidisco.com] for a run-down on most of the available models.

  • So far as I know, the Nomad II lets you copy files as plain old MP3's. The driver software they provide for Mac won't let me copy things back from it, but that's no big deal.
  • by Hobart ( 32767 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @01:37PM (#2619874) Homepage Journal

    Remember that the first portable MP3 player, the Diamond Rio PMP300 [riohome.com], (first announced in September 1998 [slashdot.org]) was entangled in nasty lawsuits [gcwf.com], as covered in this slashdot article from 1998 [slashdot.org].

    I daresay these nasty lawsuits contributed to Diamond's demise. None of the consumer electronics companies want to spend the cash battling the recording industry in court, so every one of them toe the line. I'm sure the recording industry has pounded the crap out of several small companies who've tried it -- and when Ogg Vorbis [xiph.org] is finalized I'm sure the recording industry will try to pound the crap out of anyone making hardware Vorbis players as "Piracy Devices"

    The closest thing I've seen is the Apple Ipod [apple.com] which lets you either store music for listening to, or store files for moving to another PC, but not to listen to the files marked for moving to another PC as far as I know ...

  • Personal Jukebox (Score:2, Informative)

    by haslup ( 30471 )
    The PJB [pjb100.com] is available with up to a 30 gig hard drive and connects via USB... I've got the 20 gig and it's great. Plus, linux support through the OpenPJB [sourceforge.net] Sourceforge project that even includes an emacs mode.

  • Although the initial advertising claimed otherwise, with the more recent firmwares (2.3.x, the one I have currently is 2.3.2) DO in fact support transferring data from the device back to the hard disk. There is a FAQ [mpython.com] that has links to the various places which have software that can do this -- one of which is a SourceForge Project [sourceforge.net].

    The PJB itself [pjbox.com] is a fairly nifty device (though the main website tends to get either broken out outdated from time to time -- and the pictures they have of the products are in some cases DEAD WRONG! The only colors that are really available as shown are the titanium with black buttons and the all black; the blue one is actually kind of an off teal with dark teal buttons) -- storage capacities range from 6GB to 30GB, making the high-end model the largest capacity wearable MP3 player that I know about.

    There are Linux synchronization tools available, but they were all unfortunately in a more or less half-finished state the last time I checked, so I still rip under Linux and then boot back to Windows to transfer the MP3 files to the PJB. It also has the downside of being USB rather than firewire, so transferring large amounts of data can take a while. Battery life is around 10 hours with the rechargeable LI battery. Recharging can only be done in the main device though -- no external chargers are aviailable. It also makes a loud tone when the battery is getting low, and will make the tone again after a few seconds of playing if you stop and then start the device again, which can be somewhat disconcerting if you weren't expecting it, especially since it triggers when there's still an hour or two of life left in the device. It is documented in the manual, but was easy to overlook or forget.

    The navigation buttons are fairly easy to use and simple to understand. I've had one problem with an mp3 that had a click in it that wasn't present when played on the PC, but it was an isolated case, and was one of my oldest rips, so it might be a genuine glitch in the encoding.

    Well, this turned into more of a full review than a comment on another device that can do two-way transfers, so I should probably shut up now. I will add a final note that I had problems when trying to reach the company directly or order directly from their website, so I ended up buying from MP3FactoryDirect [mp3factorydirect.com] and quite satisfied with that.

  • I have the Rio Volt and am semi-happy with it.

    Two main problems;
    1) The thing is a battery hog. I dont know what they claim but you wont get more than a couple hours per pair of AA's.

    2) The anti-skip sucks. Really, really sucks. I can make it skip by putting it in my leg pocket (cargo pants) and walking. So dont plan to do any jogging with it or anything.

    Other than that, the sound quality is good. The controls are simple but effective. You upgrade the firmware by burning the upgrade software onto a blank CD and then play that CD - so it's pretty easy to upgrade and Linux friendly.
  • by Gigs ( 127327 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @01:50PM (#2619946) Homepage Journal
    http://www.pjrc.com/tech/mp3/ [pjrc.com]

    Links to site on building your own custom built in hardware player. Check out the links to the other sites too.
  • JazzPiper (Score:2, Informative)

    by TheCrunch ( 179188 )
    I've got a JazzPiper MVR64P [mediaforte.nl]. The capacity is better than average and it's SDMI-free.

    64MB Built-in,
    Takes up-to 32MB SmartMedia cards,
    Plays MP3/WAV,
    No SDMI,
    Crappy FM Radio,
    Voice Recording,
    Useless phone book thingy,
    Parallel interface,
    Dunno about non-win support,
    Looks nicer than most 1st gen players.

    I've seen it go under the name of MPIO-SV64. MP3Players.co.uk [mp3players.co.uk] have a nice selection to look at.

  • Edigital's [edig.com] MXP100 [edig.com] player, which uses an IBM Microdrive and also boasts a voice recognition system to navigate through your MP3s. Looks like a nifty little unit. Though the IBM microdrive cards store less than an Ipod or some of the larger jukeboxes, I assume you can buy extras and plug them in and remove them from the unit as necessary.
  • I recommend very much the following article from John Gilmore (EFF, inventer of the alt hierarchy): "What's Wrong With Copy Protection".

    http://www.toad.com/gnu/whatswrong.html [toad.com]

    The article is well written and he makes some good and interesting points. Worth a read IMHO.

  • by Bjorn ( 4868 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @02:26PM (#2620141) Homepage
    Short summary: problems with the Archos but it was nice, like the NEO but not as a walking-around player (using it in the car), the iPod is simply the best MP3 player yet created, by a long, long way (assuming you have a Mac).

    Longer version:
    I have used all three, and currently own the NEO Jukebox and an iPod (as primarily a Mac user, obviously, although I use Windows PCs at work, usually). None of them are SDMI-impaired.

    I bought the Archos (6 gig) originally (this summer), and loved the size and form factor (although it was surprisingly heavy). However, the HD frizzed out several times and finally I had to return it after I got sick of the reformat/reload/repeat cycle. If they've fixed some of those problems it probably would be good (and the recorder seems nice). Support was questionable at best - I eventually got responses, but they couldn't do anything about my messed up drive.

    NEO Jukebox:
    After that I bought the 20 gig NEO Jukebox, and was generally extremely happy with it. It's a little large (about the size of a portable CD player, although thinner than most), but surprisingly light, and the bells and whistles are nice - it comes with a remote control and a nice interface, and replacing the HD is almost as easy as replacing the batteries on any walkman. I actually use it for work a lot to transfer files via USB, since it mounts very easily as a USB hard drive. It pretty much never skips, and looks cool with a nice blue backlight.

    The only problems I had with it have been:

    1) Slowwwwww transfer rates via USB (transferring even 5 gigs takes around 4 hours, let alone filling the thing - my ripped CD collection is about 2/3 done and is approaching 15 gigs).

    2) Lousy battery life - I usually get 4.5 hours max, which means that if I listen to it on el to my current contract, I run out of power by lunchtime.

    3) Pain to transport and recharge. During the summer when I was commuting weekly to Texas for a contract, I had to take the large charger every time, which was annoying. It's heavy and bulky. And on a day-by-day basis, there's just no way.

    4) Problems mounting in OS X. This may be better in 10.1.1 - I haven't tried it yet.

    Support was middling - no response ever when I emailed them, some moderate responsiveness when I phoned.

    When I first saw the price tag on the iPod, I thought they were n-v-t-s nuts. Then I actually went in and actually looked at one, and I realized I had to have one, and that I can't believe that it is so damn cheap. Salient points:

    1) Firewire. This thing loads fully in about 5 minutes. I just say what I want each morning, take a shower, grab it and go after it syncs up.

    2) Size. It is *tiny*. Literally the size of a deck of cards. And light. I throw it in my coat pocket on my way to work and forget it's there.

    3) Design. The interface is fantastic - even better than the quite good NEO interface. It looks and feels incredible. I don't know anyone (even Mac haters) who hasn't immediately asked "where can I get one?" about three seconds after holding it in their hands.

    4) Portability. If you travel at all, this thing blows away every other MP3 player. It's not even close. You need exactly one small cable to recharge and sync, and the iPod itself is so small that it basically is a non-issue.

    5) Battery life. This is a big one - I have used the iPod all day for most of the last couple of weeks, and have never even gotten as low as a half charge. It says 10 hours, but I would guess it's more like 15 at normal use.

    I have basically nothing negative to say about the iPod.

    Basically my plan is to use an FM transmitter to use the NEO in my car, which should be perfect. I'll load it with my whole CD collection overnight about once a month, and otherwise just leave it there.

    So there it is. Hope that's of use to someone.
  • Two Words: Rio Volt (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dh003i ( 203189 ) <dh003i@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @03:12PM (#2620414) Homepage Journal
    RioVolt makes the best MP3 players -- they're rated the highest and their CD-MP3 players allow you to get more memory for your buck to store MP3's on. The CD-MP3 players bypass "digital rights management" and basically allow you memory for as many songs as you want -- all you need do is buy another CD-R or CD-RW. I personally use one CD-RW as a temporary storage place for songs I currently like; then I put the complete compilation of an artists songs on one CD-R or maybe two CD-R's. I have all the songs by Madonna on one CD-R, all the songs from Lords of Acid on one CD-R, and all the songs of Beethoven...well, that takes a few more CD-R's -- but you certainly can put all of his most notable works on one CD-R. Lets compare prices and options. Prices for MP3 players were taken from the parent-company's website, prices for one CD-R/RW were calculated from prices from 50 and 25 packs, respectively, from Amazon.com.

    Item [Price]
    Latest RioVolt [$180]
    Nomad Jukebox(20GB) [$350]
    1 CD-R (700MB) [$0.40]
    1 CD-RW (650MB) [$0.80]

    So, it costs you $350 for 20GB of music-memory from Nomad. Lets see how much you'd have to spend for 20GB if you used RioVolt:

    Assuming 20GB of CD-RW's:

    $180 + (20GB*1024MB/GB / 650MB) * $0.80 = $205.21.

    Assumng 20GB of CD-R's:

    $180 + (20GB*1024MB/GB / 700MB) * $0.40 = $191.70

    Thus, you save from $145 to $158 dollars by choosing RioVolt over Nomad. Its a no-brainer, regarding which product you should buy. Yes, Nomad allows you to alter the contents of your collection...so does RioVolt, if you use CD-RW's: and you'll still save 145 bucks.

    Put another way, if you wanted to spend $350 dollars for an MP3-playing device and the memory/CD's to store MP3's on, you get:

    (a) 20GB of storage space from Nomad
    (b) 134GB to 290GB of storage space using RioVolt and 213CD-RW's or 425CD-R's, respectively.

    This is not a practical comparison -- as few people want to carry around 425CD-R's, though some of the larger CD-booklets would let you do such. This is simply cost-analysis.

    Lets go back to the analysis of how much you save by using RioVolt and an according # of CD-RW's to get to 20GB. If you use RioVolt and 32CD-RW's to get 20GB of memory, you save 145 dollars. But lets be a bit more accurate -- you can't carry around 32CD-RW's in your pocket: you need a CD-folder. A Steel CD case capable of holding 60CD's, costs 20 dollars. So you actually only save 125 dollars by choosing RioVolt and buying CD-RW's to get to 20GB. Now, would you rather walk around with one Nomad Jukebox, or with one RioVolt, one steel 60CD case, and 125 extra dollars in your pocket? Your choice.

    P.S.: 125 dollars is enough to buy you one GeForce2 MX for your laptop.

  • Open Source Player (Score:3, Informative)

    by pjrc ( 134994 ) <paul@pjrc.com> on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @08:07PM (#2622216) Homepage Journal
    If your MP3 player was open source, you wouldn't have to worry about it doing undesirable things behind your back... or at the very least you could hack on it to make it do whatever you want.

    There actually is an open-source MP3 player [pjrc.com]. It's not a shiny polished product like a Rio, but I can say with 100% confidence that is has absolutely no SDMI features, since I designed it!

    Ok, mod me down for shameless self promotion now.

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982