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Thoughts on the New Crop of Ogg Aware Players? 312

Steve Andre' asks: " Given the approaching season, I'm wondering if many have used and have opinions about the new Ogg Vorbis capable portable players out there. What I'd like to find is at least a CD/MP3/Ogg capable player which sounds good and doesn't do 'odd' things. What's it like out there? Can I finally roast my Ogg files and take them with me for a walk?"
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Thoughts on the New Crop of Ogg Aware Players?

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  • Car Audio (Score:4, Interesting)

    by The Snowman ( 116231 ) * on Friday December 05, 2003 @10:31PM (#7644850)

    How about a head unit for my truck's sound system that plays Ogg? I have yet to find one, anyone have a link?

    • Re:Car Audio (Score:5, Informative)

      by Foz ( 17040 ) on Friday December 05, 2003 @10:36PM (#7644883)
      The empeg does, using the latest alpha release of the version 3 player software.

      It's no longer in production, although it's still well supported and you can find them for sale quite often on the empeg forum.

      -- Gary F.
    • Re:Car Audio (Score:3, Informative)

      by joe_bruin ( 266648 )
      how about a phatbox [] harddrive-based player for your car? there is probably one that is compatible with your truck's existing headunit (so you don't need to buy a new one), and you can have 20-60 gigs of music, instead of shuffling cd's. and yes it does support ogg [].

      this product is sold directly at audi and vw dealers [] so you can bet it's a pretty solid product. it's also the same as the kenwood music keg [], but works with non-kenwood stereos.

      i have one and i love it. i can't imagine having to deal with sw
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05, 2003 @10:37PM (#7644888)
    Last time OV was mentioned on /. (the last beta, presumably) I download the same encoder and xmms plugin for playback. I encoded a couple of CDs and tried it out. Here's what I found:

    First, the sample encoder is MUCH easier to use than what I've already been using (GRip). I don't know if that's because my current method is so terrible or because the new one is so great.

    Second, the resulting files were about 10% smaller. Others may say "so what, hard drives are cheap", but:

    1) I only have 4.5 GB and don't have the extra cash to buy larger.

    2) Larger hard drives make a 10% savings even MORE worthwhile. Consider: If I saved 10% of a 4 GB drive, that's 40 MB--room for maybe 10 additional songs or about one CD. But if I saved 10% of a 400 GB drive, that's an extra 4 GB--enough for 100 CD's.

    Third, the sound quality was "equivalent". That is, I couldn't tell the difference, BUT I'm not an expert and my sound equipment is FAR from top of the line (just some computer speakers plugged into an AWE32).
    Non-meta-modded "Overrated" mods are killing Slashdot
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    • I like your point, but your math is a little off.

      10% of 4GB is 400MB

      10% of 400GB is 40GB
    • by Drakonian ( 518722 ) on Friday December 05, 2003 @10:58PM (#7645016) Homepage
      But you don't have the cash for the 400 GB drive.

      That made me think of something. I wonder if the reason why there are so few hardware Ogg players because Ogg is mostly used by Linux users. And to some extent, Linux is often run on old hardware. More so than Windows and certainly more so than Mac. Linux is also free as in beer. Like you, maybe many Ogg users don't have the cash to pay for new hardware. So they don't have the cash/won't spend it on Ogg players either. So they don't sell, so companies don't make them.

      • There are very few people who play ogg files. Even among linux users - whom there are very few of relatively speaking.

        Taking the time to put ogg into a player costs money in terms of labor and development, and for that .0001% (or less) of people actually interested in it makes it something of a questionable business decision to spend the time and money on.

        • Taking the time to put ogg into a player costs money in terms of labor and development, and for that .0001% (or less) of people actually interested in it makes it something of a questionable business decision to spend the time and money on.

          Businesses exist to make money. By using OGG, they do not pay patent royalties or fees. If they charge the same amount per device as they do for MP3, they could make $5 or $10 more. Even selling 100,000 devices, they could make between half and a full million dollars

          • Uh, no. (Score:3, Interesting)

            by magnum3065 ( 410727 )
            For information on MP3 patent licensing see:

            Licensing for the decoder runs $0.75 per unit or a one time fee of $50,000. Nowhere close to your $0.5 - $1 million figure. Plus in order to save this money they would have to completely drop MP3 playback from the player, rather than supporting both it and Ogg Vorbis. Despite the fact that I use Vorbis when I rip my CDs, I still have many MP3s I've downloaded from that I'd like to be able to play
          • by rebelcool ( 247749 ) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @12:14AM (#7645443)
            Adding support for a new format requires considerable time in the form of having not only the programming for it done, but then the considerable amount of testing before you start printing circuits. The development costs are a major investment.

            I doubt they would sell 100,000 devices on OGG alone. OGG just isn't that popular. As a CS major at a major public university where CS is the 2nd largest major, I don't know of a single soul who uses OGG, even among those who use linux. And thats among college students who are by far the largest music file gatherering population.

            • Also a CS major at a major public university where CS is the 2nd largest major, I would like to inform you that I use Ogg, and I know several people who also use Ogg, and I reccomend Ogg to all of my tech-savvy friends.

              Maybe it's a different major public university...

              I do agree with you, but it's not hard for companies to simply add Ogg support to players that already support mp3 and/or WMA; iRiver, for example announced some time ago (it may have been recently, I have no idea) that they are adding Ogg []

              • The 3D virtual world I spend all my free time in, Second Life, lets users upload sound clips in WAV format, then the server converts it to Ogg format for streaming audio back to the nearby users whenever the sound file is requested to be played (usually by scripted objects).
            • I think that the usefulness of Ogg is dependent on what you are using it for. As you mention, network effects probably make it useless for file-sharing -- but if you're mainly interested in making compressed audio for your own use it's great. I have a huge stack of CDs that now sits on my hard drive and Neuros as about 3GB of Ogg files.

              I'm not sure why printing new chips should come into it -- I got ogg support on my Neuros by upgrading the firmware.

      • So you're basically saying that people who use free software, like Linux, have less money than people who don't use free software? What kind of logic is that?

      • Hmm, well if you compare the percentage of Linux users who use Ogg versus the percentage of Windows users, it would probably be higher on the Linux side, but among the other people I know who use Ogg, plenty of them still use Windows. Reguarding running Linux on old hardware, this has not been my experience. Certainly your Linux users may have some old machines running Linux on them besides their primary machine, but as Linux users tend to be more passionate about computers I've seen them be more willing
      • Linux geeks are hardware and gadget freaks (you know you are... admit it). Hell, look at all the new gee-whiz hardware reviews that get reposted here from every other tech site on the 'net.

        I have an enormous MP3 collection.... and I reencoded everything as high-bitrate OGGs using GRIP (easy... set it up to autorip any CD you load, with the desired settings, and just change CDs while you surf... took me weeks to work my way through my CD collection).

        Adding OGG support can only help... and will be sure to
      • I don't think your "Linux user's are shoeless beggars" angle is going to win you many friends here (there are a lot of people using Linux because it's the only platform currently fully supporting the Athlon 64FX, for example -- it isn't the financial dregs that use Linux). Then again, you did get moderated up heavily...

        There aren't many ogg players quite simply because technologically mp3 is adequate for the marketplace (that is the majority of people). As mp3 got the first mover advantage both from a tool
      • not quite true. the real reasons most players don't support ogg are:

        1. flash costs money. the amount of sales generated from adding ogg support are not sufficient to justify adding the additional 128kb of flash or so that would be required to throw in an ogg decoder on every single device shipped. you'll notice that most harddrive based devices (such as the phatbox [] or audiotron []) have quickly added ogg support, since it essentially costs them nothing.

        2. integer-math ogg decoders have not been around for
      • I think Ogg's stupid name is what is holding it back.

        Electronics company exec: "Hey boss, we want to make our new MP3 player also play "Gog Vorkas" files... I mean, Vorg Korbis... I, um, never mind, lets just stick with MP3s...

        Boss: Good idea. Here's more stock options.

    • First, the sample encoder is MUCH easier to use than what I've already been using (GRip). I don't know if that's because my current method is so terrible or because the new one is so great.

      I like to use crip to make backups of my CDs to Ogg Vorbis. (Backup isn't really the term, it's just so much easier to play my CDs when I don't have to physically put them into the drive!)

      crip has minimal dependencies, and runs quite happily on a machine without X.

      Second, the resulting files were about 10% smaller.


      • Ogg Vorbis will also do ABR files; that's what I use. I find that using ABR with both LAME and OggEnc yield files that are slightly smaller than CBR MP3s, yet superior sound quality. This is what I use, because I like semi-predictable filesizes, and even prefer this over the slightly higher sound quality. :-D

        To get close to Vorbis (and I prefer Vorbis even if it does emphasize the high frequencies) you'll need to add several flags. I've just wiped my Debian install clean to make way for a Gentoo LiveCD

        • Big Math? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by BigBlockMopar ( 191202 ) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @02:48AM (#7646051) Homepage

          However (and maybe this is because the Vorbis files emphasize the high frequencies; I'm not sure) the MP3s sound "flat", somehow.

          My understanding of the sound quality difference between MP3 and Ogg Vorbis is that MP3 uses a full Fourier transform (sine, cosine and constant) on the audio, while Ogg Vorbis uses wavelets and does a cosine transform only.

          Discontinuities between blocks sent to the sine transform would cause the Gibbs effect; these would be heard as a garbled low-amplitude reverberation of the high frequency components and transients in the audio. This is consistent with the effects of low bitrate compression; at higher bitrates, there would presumably be more terms used in both the sine and cosine transforms, so the amplitude of the compression artifacts would become smaller and therefore inaudible.

          Cosine transforms, on the other hand, don't have problems with discontinuities, so there'd be an immediate increase in sound quality, at a given bitrate. Transients (attack on cymbals or the rattle of the chain across the membrane of a snare drum, for example) would be handled by wavelet functions - there's probably some sort of mechanism in the code which sees the sharp attack or decay as fast risetimes or falltimes, ignores processing it by cosine transform, and uses wavelets instead.

          But I don't know for sure. For one thing, I am *not* a programmer. I can make "Hello, World" and compile my own kernel, but you really don't want me poring over the source for libvorbis.

          • Re:Big Math? (Score:3, Informative)

            by tho 1234 ( 709100 )

            MP3, Ogg, and ACC are all use the DCT (discrete cosine transform) The only major codec that differs from these is MPC, which is a subband codec. There are no wavelet codecs in common use, but may offer some advantages in removing the "time smear" produced by transform codecs.

            Virtually all of the differences between codecs is in the tuning of the psych model, the filters that decide which frequencies to retain and which ones to remove. (it is also the reason there is a HUGE difference between encode
      • I could post about 20 lines of AOL-speak and understate how cool that is. Please, post photos!

        That is a MUCH more interesting topic than the rest of this thread. (sorry, guys)
    • My opinion on Ogg Vorbis is that it's generally a bit larger than an equivalent MP3, but sounds like a higher bitrate recording. I've found that Ogg Vorbis files have the tendency to sound much more "crisp" than MP3 files, which sound a bit muffled in comparison.

      In other words, I feel a 128 kbps OGG is larger in size than an equivalent 128 kbps MP3, but the sound quality is more akin to a 192 kbps MP3, yet it isn't as big as a 192 kbps MP3.

      Just mah 2 cents. ^_^

  • hd based ogg (Score:5, Informative)

    by saqq ( 685613 ) on Friday December 05, 2003 @10:37PM (#7644894)
    you might wanna check out the Neuros [] player.
    • Re:hd based ogg (Score:5, Informative)

      by Foz ( 17040 ) on Friday December 05, 2003 @10:46PM (#7644951)
      The neuros uses a backpack hard drive though, which radically increases it's form factor.

      Rio just released the Karma [] with Ogg support. Done by the same team that did the empeg, from what I understand. I haven't tested out a karma yet but I definitely love my empeg and if it's half as good it's much better than anything else.

      -- Gary F.
      • Oooh, supports FLAC too. This thing has me drooling over some great features and it's nice compact form factor. Now, other than the price tag, it's only problem is that it's Windows only, or at least that's what the requirements say. Now, if it will just show up as a USB harddrive it may work fine on Linux or OSX, but what about firmware updating?
        • Re:hd based ogg (Score:3, Informative)

          by PyromanFO ( 319002 )
          That's not true from the reviews I've read. It comes with an ethernet docking station or USB. Either way, you use the Java software embedded on the device to manage your library. Therefore it's platform neutral, Mac, Linux and Windows. Anything that supports Java.
      • Re:hd based ogg (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sydb ( 176695 )
        It's a shame the marketing blurb for the Karma describes Ogg Vorbis as "a new audio compression format similar in function to MP3 or WMA. It is different from these formats because it is completely free, open-source, and non-patented." with no mention of better compression/quality tradeoffs. They mention FLAC but give no information about what it is (don't tell me, I know...).
      • I haven't tested out a karma yet but I definitely love my empeg and if it's half as good it's much better than anything else.

        I bought the first 20GB Karma that appeared in the local Best Buy - I had promised myself a Neuros, but on hearing that there were problems with skipping on higher-bitrate oggs, I decided to wait until the firmware was improved. In the meantime, the Karma was announced, and I loved the size of it, and so it goes...

        Anyway, same thing with the Karma, initially: skipping on high-bitr

        • I do have a few issues - and these are minor - one being the transfer speeds (USB, dunno if it supports USB 2.0 as my machine doesn't have it and I'm too lazy to check the Karma's documentation)

          The Karma is a USB 2.0 hi-speed device. You should definitely drop in a USB 2.0 card for your machine, it will greatly improve your transfer times.
    • by tuffy ( 10202 )
      The official Neuros firmware version 1.38 (not updated since late June) doesn't play vorbis files at quality 5 or higher without major skipping. The unofficial Neuros firmware at (not updated since late August) plays most high quality vorbis files, but with very mild skipping.

      That wouldn't be so bad, except the USB 2.0 hard drive promised to those that bought units before July 31 has been scrapped. And, no USB 2.0 drive at all is offered. Without one, it's difficult to recommend a

    • Re:hd based ogg (Score:4, Informative)

      by Mithrandur ( 69023 ) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @03:08PM (#7648953)
      I own a Neuros. It's total crap. The radio-related features are worthless, because the reciever and transmitter both suck. Linux support is practically non-existant (from DI, NDBM works fairly well, when the Neuros doesn't crash). The unit is bulky and feels like a cheap plastic toy. It's been like six months since they "released" Ogg support; it's still not out of beta and it's still unstable.

      To me, an mp3/ogg player is a piece of consumer electronics; it should just work. I don't want to hack it. I don't want to wait half a year for the features I bought it for to stabilize.

      Neuros is not that. Buying a Neuros is like paying hundreds of dollars for a piece of half-done open source software; it may be worth it in the future, but not today.

      That said, the iRiver IHP-120 has everything the neuros has (except Song Identification - no linux support - and the radio transmitter, which hardly works anyway), except it's not perpetually beta, it's very thin (like the ipod) and it looks sexy. Plus, optical I/O.

      The Rio Karma looks good too, if you don't need recording, FM radio, or a USB Storage interface (which is what kills it for me; I need to be able to transport files on my MP3 player), and want Ethernet.

      CNet has in-depth reviews of various models of MP3 player. It's a good place to go for research.
  • by eddy ( 18759 ) on Friday December 05, 2003 @10:38PM (#7644902) Homepage Journal

    here []. Check the thread/archives, there's more.

    • Startling to see my own review posted to /. as a +5 Informative link ::-)

      At any rate, there is some addendum to that review that I have to share.

      • It does look like my device had a hardware problem with the ethernet - it really semed uncharacteristic for the hardware.
      • Second, the problem of free software uploads is probably going to be solved - there is at least one capable person reverse engineering the transfer protocol (which is close to jempeg for the empeg devices).
      • Rio is actually considering lettin
  • Here's a few (Score:5, Informative)

    by Cyph ( 240321 ) <> on Friday December 05, 2003 @10:38PM (#7644904)
    There are 3 that are fairly well-known

    1. Neuros, though I'm wondering how commited they are to their player. Ogg support is still in beta.

    2. iRiver iHP-120, which I personally think is the best. 20Gb hard drive, built-in mic, ogg playing, et cetera. Great player.

    3. Rio Karma. It has a bit less features than the iRiver, but it seems pretty nice overall.
    • Re:Here's a few (Score:5, Informative)

      by KnightStalker ( 1929 ) <> on Friday December 05, 2003 @10:48PM (#7644966) Homepage
      I have a Neuros -- the Ogg support is very good & they are good about keeping it up to date. Xiph themselves wrote the ogg-playing firmware. It's got some other wonky stuff -- sometimes it will just refuse to work for a couple of days (but on the other hand, I haven't been very kind to it.) It will play through your car -- it has a built-in short range FM broadcaster which even sort of works, and it records from a built-in mic or a line-in jack. There are also two separate Linux managers for the database. They have a very good community forum section on their website which you can check out at .

      There are some irritating problems... the menus aren't threaded so you have to stop playing a song to change settings or look for another song. It's only USB-1.1, so it's also kinda slow on the transfers. Both of these are slated to be fixed, but there's no word on when.
      • by Analysis Paralysis ( 175834 ) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @08:10AM (#7646873)
        The Neuros battery is non-replaceable and is supposed to have a lifetime of 11/2-2 years according to their FAQ []. So expect to have to send the unit back to them for a battery change (they quote a replacement charge up to $12 but this seems far too low for a new battery - it may simply be a handling charge).

        Given the recent fuss over the iPod's $200 battery replacement charge, this should be worth checking out before purchase.

    • Re:Here's a few (Score:5, Informative)

      by Adam9 ( 93947 ) on Friday December 05, 2003 @10:54PM (#7644995) Journal
      DI has been very committed to their Neuros Audio player. I have one and I love it. DI is still creating firmware updates AND continuing development on their new Neuros units.

      Someone else has mentioned [] this before. The founder, Joe Born, responded. []

      This [] may also explain some more on the rumors.
      • Ah-ha, thanks for the info. Seems like they're still working on it, but Ogg's still in beta. I might purchase their player at some point, just for the hell of it, the 20Gb USB 1.1 one is sure to heavily drop in price around the time when they release the 40Gb 2.0 one Joe mentioned. I just wish my 30Gb iPod had nice, or any, Ogg support. Meh.
    • Re:Here's a few (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      A perhaps important thing to mention is the Rio Karma has FLAC support if you don't want the size of WAV files but want music compressed in a lossless fashion. Does anyone know offhand if the iRiver does? I'm trying to make a decision on one of the two but I haven't found anything regarding it on the iRiver (but all the recording features are fairly interesting).
  • don't forget Zaurus (Score:5, Informative)

    by cbc1920 ( 730236 ) on Friday December 05, 2003 @10:41PM (#7644920)
    My Zaurus plays them quite nicely, though only 2 hours per charge.
    • Argh, what player/firmware are you using?

      Mine gets at least 3 hours (up to somewhere around 6 max) if I am only playing ogg (oz 3.2 w/xmms-e)

      • When I play oggs, I use vorbis-plugin [] for the stock media player. However, outside of that, I use xmms-e for streaming audio, since I'm usually plugged in when I'm using wifi. Meh.
        • If it is the stock media player from 2.xx roms, I highly suggest upgrading to OpenZaurus if you use Linux or if you use windows OZ or Sharp 3.xx series.

          People agreed with many early reviews that said the Zaurus lacked battery life, so people fixed it by rewriting the power support... isn't open source great?

          my 3-6 hour estimate may be a bit low, given that I was thinking with the screen on, very low, and with it off someone timed it at 10 hours (on the original, not-too powerconcious rom w/xmms-e)

          • I'm sticking with the Sharp 2.38 ROM for now, until my shiny 256MB SD card comes in. And then I'll be running straight towards OZ 3.2. I was using theKompany.rom for awhile, but having to install the extra packages only leaves me with 16MB of space for precious media, rather than 32MB with the stock ROM, which has all of those packages in place to begin with. Plus, it lacks IPv6 support, in which case, I'll see what happens when I steal OZ's kernel and IPv6 userland utilities. (The non-Sharp-2.3x ROMs a
    • Amen. (Score:5, Informative)

      by twitter ( 104583 ) on Friday December 05, 2003 @11:32PM (#7645217) Homepage Journal

      Zaurus is a good quality player and much more flexible than "normal" players. I use Open Zaurus the ogg tools you can get for it and CF. A 64 meg CF is cheap and loads up an hour's worth of music and a shell script [] or two for random play. Larger CF cards are getting cheaper all the time and a CF wifi card could eliminate the need for the clumsy transfer step. I'm sure people will make software that does all of this easier than my dinky shell script, but I like the speed of simple tools like sed and urandom. Don't forget to use the -q flag for ogg123 to silence the output and don't forget to change the power and light settings so the screen turns off but the power does not and you have a beautiful and very powerful jam box and rounds out an all free music system [].

      My next project for it is to get a car power adaptor and a little nicer mounting system than I already have.

      Open Zaurus [] is a little more flexible than the software that comes with it, but you might not want to do that if you need to sync with nasty old Lookout or something. Debian Zaurus with X11 will be massivly cool when it settles down to stable.

      • A 64 meg CF is cheap and loads up an hour's worth of music

        I also play music on my Zaurus. Might I suggest: get a big SD card. That way, you leave the CF slot open for peripherals like wifi cards.

  • by Jordy ( 440 ) <<moc.pacons> <ta> <nadroj>> on Friday December 05, 2003 @10:41PM (#7644925) Homepage
    If Apple supported Ogg I would actually replace my current iPod to get it. I encode all my files at 384 with lame (extreme preset) and I'd love to move all my music to ogg just to save some disk space.

    Of course, it is sort of a double edged sword with Apple. If they support a format that saves 30% more disk space than Apple then some people would buy the 20 gig model instead of the 30.
    • Well, they arguably do support a format that saves 30% more space - AAC. While I'm no audiophile, I'd say (and many others) a 128 Kbit AAC sounds at least as good as a 160 Kbps VBR MP3s. If I understand correctly, it's also less computationally intensive than Ogg. (No floating point required?)
    • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Friday December 05, 2003 @11:27PM (#7645190) Homepage
      Of course, it is sort of a double edged sword with Apple. If they support a format that saves 30% more disk space than Apple then some people would buy the 20 gig model instead of the 30.

      More for less on lowest end model = new customers. Also the better a product is than your competition, the more mark-up you can add. As long as you're the only one, and you can deliver the same as a 30gb mp3 player in a 20gb ogg player, why not pocket the difference yourself?

      I think it's more the low market share, and few percieved advantages among consumers that is the cause.

      Patents? People typically don't pay anything at all for mp3 players, and if they rip their own they often use lame, also a free download. And as every hardware player they'd consider would have to have mp3 support anyway, the licence fee is already paid. Adding ogg support doesn't bring the cost down at all until you can live with ogg-only players.

      Size/quality? Most people can't tell the difference anyway, and if they do they'd up the bitrate on mp3s. Compared to the big CD->mp3 revolution, mp3->ogg is well, a nice bonus, but not much more. In particularly if you have mp3 capable hardware players, it's a no-go.

      Ogg just simply doesn't have any killer features. It's a very good product, but it's one in a pack. Same with Ogg theora. There is DivX, which everybody knows. Once Theora is done, I predict a good product, but that doesn't get mainstream interest because there's already divx (or maybe the new MPEG4 AVC by then).

  • by DeckerEgo ( 520694 ) on Friday December 05, 2003 @10:48PM (#7644964) Homepage
    Check out iRiver's announcement on it's OGG Support Plan []. Most 200-level and above players should have OGG support by Christmas eve.

    The coolest by far appears to be the iFP-500 [] series, which has been release internationally (a while ago) but not released in the US yet. So impatient me went out and asked Santa for a Squeezebox [].

  • by Anonymous Coward
    All these ogg players I've heard of so far are great, but also really expensive and overkill for my needs. I'm looking for a usb flash drive (I like devices that save/load files with a usb hdd interface - no driver issues ever, works on any pc all the time.) about 128mb that has a built in mp3 player with ogg support as well. I've seen loads of mp3/wma models but no mp3/ogg, some are firmware upgradeable via usb port though so I'm wondering if anybody has hacked a patch up to replace wma with ogg?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05, 2003 @10:52PM (#7644986)
    Used to be Best Buy had a good selection of CD based MP3 boombox and mini-systems. No longer. Ogg is out of the question. I think they carry one Sony boombox for about $130, and most mini-systems with mp3 start at well over $200. There are a lot of Best Buy CD systems which will play CD-Rs but only if they are straight cdda tracks.

    Beware, some Best Buy CD systems that claim "mp3" can't play mp3 CDs. You have to use your computer to decode the mp3 and send it to the boom box via USB cable (i.e. the boombox is a glorified speaker system for your computer).

    Of course a lot of DVD players can handle mp3 . . . I'm told that Best Buy has some kind of stake in the music industry and that they are trying to suppress mp3 hardware.

  • Palm (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05, 2003 @10:58PM (#7645020)
    I use a Palm Tungsten T3, and use AeroPlayer as an audio player. It supports MP3, Ogg Vorbis, MIDI, etc. Very high sound quality. There are other similar music players available for PalmOS, so shop around before settling on a particular one.

    The Tungsten T3 has been widely criticised for poor battery life. My experience has been that I get about 6-7 hours of MP3/Ogg playing time before I get the first low-battery warning. That's pretty equivalent to what you get on an iPod, which won't play Ogg files. Plus the Palm gives you hard buttons, where the iPod has that weird touch-sensitive spinny thing. I have a personal preference for hard buttons, so that was a real winner for me. Other models of Palms have better battery life, and one can increase battery life further by underclocking the CPU, so one can certainly do better than the numbers I've mentioned above. But this was good enough for me.

    Also, the Palm is, of course, a PDA. Bonus, from my point of view, since I needed one. :)

    Cons, of course, are that the Palm's music needs to be placed on a flash card, which means that you're limited to the size of flash cards (I've seen them with capacities up to 512meg, but nothing close to even the low-end iPod's 10gig), the file writing rate of flash cards (very slow).. and so on.

    I tend to fit a bit over two hours of music into 128 meg of space, or more if encoded at a lower bitrate -- I have some old mono radio shows which weigh in at about 6 megabytes for a one hour show, for example. So your 512 meg flash card (or two 256 meg flash cards) will last you for well over a full charge of your battery. So when I recharge at night, I also queue up the music that I'll be listening to the next day.

    Works for me!
    • Sounds interesting. I have a Tungsten E with an SD/MMC card slot {126MHz OMAP processor IIRR}. Will that run such a player? Or will I have serious trouble with battery life?
      • Sounds interesting. I have a Tungsten E with an SD/MMC card slot {126MHz OMAP processor IIRR}. Will that run such a player? Or will I have serious trouble with battery life?

        The specs on that aren't too different than my Tungsten T...but more specifically, the Tungsten E is listed [] as a supported device. With a 256MB card, I usually get about 4 hours' worth of music at a time (give or take, depending on the bitrates). Playing all of that will run a fully-charged battery down to about 50%. I recently sc

  • Rio Karma (Score:5, Informative)

    by FonkiE ( 28352 ) on Friday December 05, 2003 @11:14PM (#7645133)
    Rio Karma 20 [] is the One ;-)

    20 GB
    Ogg Vorbis
    Multi Platform JAVA Interface
    USB 2.0 ...

    I'm owner of the first iPod model. Had to replace the battery 1 1/2 year after ther purchase. The new iPod's get smaller, the battery capacity gets shorter and to be honest I like mechanical parts like the scroll wheel. Furthermore they made a stupid cradle, so I don't have a direct IEEE1394 connector anymore ...

    To make it short I would not buy a new iPod model, I'd buy the Rio Karma. I actually did some research after my battery was gone, but replacing the battery was $80 - thats a lot cheaper - and I have not converted my songs to .ogg yet ...
    • Re:Rio Karma (Score:2, Interesting)

      by eddy ( 18759 )

      I'd never go for "Multi Platform JAVA Interface" unless it was something 'extra' you didn't have to use, and the device could be used as a normal USB Storage device also.

    • and I have not converted my songs to .ogg yet ...

      I hope you don't mean convert them to ogg from mp3; that would be retarded.
    • by marienf ( 140573 ) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @12:16PM (#7647763)
      Just got my Karma yesterday.

      I'd been putting of buying one of these until one appeared that

      - Played Ogg Vorbis
      - Had non-trivial storage capacity in a form-factor what fits my pockets.
      - Had non-trivial autonomy.
      - Management App that ran on Linux, or USB storage device simulation.

      I must say I'm delighted so far. The cradle is plugged in to my stereo and is banging out Mussorgski (New Zealand Symphony Orchestra) with excellent dynamics and clarity.

      I left it on and playing when going to sleep, yesterday evening. When I woke up 6 hours later the battery indicated "half", which is about right for the predicted 15-hour playtime. Of course I don't know if the battery indicator is has been weighed for linearity.

      I've played downloaded (from mp3's and self-ripped Oggs, so far, and they sound just great. I have them cross-faded, and ise nice classic VU-Meters for display.

      After unpacking, connecting to the network (the Cradle has a 100BT connector - the device does DHCP or manual IP setting.) copying the jarball for the "Lite" versions (which is what the Java apps are called) to my laptop, and running it, nothing much worked,at first.

      The app allowed me to delete the pre-stored tracks, and to copy new ones from my HD, but the player would not see them. Also, character translation didn't work very well in the app.
      So In checked out software and firmware versions on the support site [], and the ones on the device and CD were hopelessly outdated already.
      After updating both (I had to drive to work to find a Windoze Box.. the updater is an exe file and will not work with Wine) everything was suddenly okay, and I'm now a happy Karma User.

      One downside so far: The included earphones hurt my ears and don't sound too great. Both cushions spontaneously fell off as I was removing the plugs from my ears, and were lost, already.

      "My Karma is Great" :-)
      For what I know from 2 days ownership, I can certainly recommend it. /hrf

  • by pythian ( 259677 ) <tenerus@[ ] ['gma' in gap]> on Friday December 05, 2003 @11:28PM (#7645194)
    Nice features, Ogg support has been around for a bit, it's in the company's official beta firmware with pretty good results. I still haven't played with it myself, but the forums are rather active with experiences etc.

    It plays pretty much any quality ogg fine over headphones. With MyFi (the FM transmission) I hear it still has some problems with transmitting high quality some -q6 and higher oggs. I'm a regular MyFi user, so I've held off for a few more optimizations.

    That and, of course, the Linux sync situation is rather good with positron or the Java NDBM.

    I'm really liking the player -- they want to release the source to their Windows sync program in about a week, and they are (according to their forum posts) working on getting in some nice new features.
    • by Yort ( 555166 )
      That and, of course, the Linux sync situation is rather good with positron or the Java NDBM.

      Honestly, I'm surprised the Linux geeks don't hail this more than they do. A lot of the Neuros stuff is open, such that a completely independent project like the NDBM [] is possible. So if I, the loyal Slashdot geek, don't like a particular feature of the sync manager, or wish there was a particular super-cool option like playlist rating - do it!

      No need to whine to the company and hope, blessed hope, that they hear

  • Look at Neuros (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Friday December 05, 2003 @11:28PM (#7645198)
    They're kind of a funny company. They're very open source / Linux friendly, and seem to be very into their user community. It's basically like the kind of coolness I'd want to exhibit if I started a tech company.

    That being said, I'm a little concerned about their solvency, and their technology is getting old.

    BUT, the good news is they're having a clearance sale right now. I just ordered a 128 MB Neuros for $99, and I'm really looking forward to getting it.

    From what I can tell, their Ogg support is perfectly usable, and there are two open source programs on Sourceforge for managing its songs. You can even flash its BIOS using a Linux host - you don't need to boot up into Windows to do it.

    So my basic take: For $99, it was worth taking a slightly less polished product, so that I could support an OSS / Linux-friendly company.
  • by MichaelCrawford ( 610140 ) on Friday December 05, 2003 @11:42PM (#7645279) Homepage Journal
    There's a list of Ogg download sites here [].

    More music downloads (mostly MP3 though) can be found in my article Links to Tens of Thousands of Legal Music Downloads [].

    The article has a Creative Commons license. Please copy and distribute it.

  • I don't mind the size of a discman. With the advent of cheap DVD burners, I've been creating mp3 DVDs instead of mp3 CDs. I haven't been able to find any players for this, though. Has anyone here heard of any?
  • by byrd77 ( 171150 ) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @12:08AM (#7645404) Homepage
    I had a Neuros, I sent it back. It was huge, heavy, took forever to boot, and I was very disappointed in the FM broadcast feature's sound quality. The ability to record from FM and use soundprints to ID songs was very cool, but didn't justify the price.

    I have a Rio Karma now. I love it. The form factor is excellent, the sound quality is amazing, the boot up is quick, the interface is incredibly responsive, I'm running out of adjectives, so I'll just leave it at "overall very impressive."

    A huge factor for me though is the Ethernet capability of the Karma. Not only does it provide cross platform capabilities (the Neuros linux usb drivers were very immature back when I had mine), but it allows me to use my Karma as an AudioTron equivalent. I have the dock in by my stereo with a wireless bridge. A very elegant setup.

    • I couldn't find much about the network connection in the manuals on the Rio site.

      How do you transfer files to the device over cat5? Does the Karma show up as an SMB share or something? Or is it necessary to use the java app? How fast is it? How's the interface?

      Does it properly support ogg metadata?

      Does it save your place in a playlist or directory while shut off (so I can listen to audiobooks on my commute)?

      Anything else I'm forgetting to ask?
      • by Anonymous Coward
        On Windows you can use Rio Music Manager, Real, or Rio Music Manager Lite (the Java app). On Linux, OS X, etc, you need to use Rio Music Manager Lite. Because the drive runs a journaling filesystem based on another Rio product, it currently is not exposed as a USB mass storage device. Samba is GPL, which the Rio engineers said precluded them from adding SMB support (it would have to be directly linked into the player binary as the Karma runs ECOS).

        You can see screenshots of Rio Music Manager Lite here []
      • by byrd77 ( 171150 )
        You have to use their software, either RMM (win) or RMML (java). The karma has a built in DHCP client or you can hard code an IP. Once it has an IP, you can hit it with a web browser and actually dl the java client from the karma (however, newer versions are available online [], so this is only useful in a pinch). The java client mirrors the functionality of the win client, it performs decently on my box, I have a AthlonXP 2000+ running Gentoo, kernel 2.6, JRE 1.4, and XFCE.

        The karma organizes music accord
    • I had a Neuros, I sent it back. It was huge, heavy, took forever to boot, and I was very disappointed in the FM broadcast feature's sound quality. The ability to record from FM and use soundprints to ID songs was very cool, but didn't justify the price.

      I've got a takes all of about three or four seconds to boot. I paid $200 for mine, cheaper than anything comperable. It's definitely bigger than a lot of others. The USB 1.1 is kind of a downer, but the upgradability (firmware and capacity)

  • by Spikeman56 ( 543509 ) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @12:50AM (#7645597) Homepage
    for the iMP-250, iMP-350, iMP-400, iMP-550, iFP-300 series, iFP-500 series. The iHP-100 series already supports OGG (iHP-100, iHP-115, iHP-120.) Some of the players will support either OGG or WMA at one time... the iMP-250, iMP-350, and iFP-300 series by using two different versions of the firmware (MP3 & WMA and MP3 & OGG), the rest of the ogg supporting players (iMP-400, iMP-550, iFP-500 series, and iHP-100 series) will be/are able to support the formats MP3, WMA, OGG and the iHP-100 series supports WAV as well at one time using only one version of the firmware. For more info check out iRivers website at 5&page=1&mode=Total&strque=&field= 1 ~spikeman56
  • Rio Karma (Score:4, Informative)

    by wikki ( 13091 ) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @01:00AM (#7645645)
    It's very funny that this article came out tonight. I got a Karma for "christmas" but couldn't resist opening it early. It's been sitting on my desk for a few days now, but tonight it is plugged in. I must say that I'm very delighted about my new MP3 player. Not only does it play OGG Vorbis files, but it also plays FLAC tracks too. I've never heard of a portable player that plays FLAC files(however I don't really keep track of these things). Anyway so far it's a great player. Switching between tracks is almost instant, playlist editing on the device is cool.

    Now just when you thought this thing was cool with the FLAC and OGG support just wait. It's got a (drum roll please) ...

    ethernet port.

    WOW!!! A++++

    So far the ethernet port allows you to transfer files to and from the karma with the java client, but they claim to be working on streaming and kicking off tracks. It's got RCA jacks on the dock so you can hook it to your stereo. I'm really not sure if I could have asked for a better device. Maybe if it had a line in for recording it would get the highest score. I give it a 9.9

  • by savetz ( 201597 ) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @01:38AM (#7645822) Homepage
    I just wrote a big roundup of portable music players for a computer-magazine-that-you've-heard-of. Of the 55 players I researched, three support Ogg.

    Capacity: 1.5GB
    Features: USB 2.0, FM tuner
    Formats: Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WMA, ASF
    Manufacturer: iRiver (
    MSRP: $249.99

    Capacity: 20GB
    Features: USB 2.0, FM tuner, built-in microphone
    Formats: Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WMA, ASF, WAV
    Manufacturer: iRiver (
    MSRP: $399.99

    Rio Karma
    Capacity: 20GB
    Features: USB 2.0, docking station with RCA line out and Ethernet port
    Formats: Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, MP3, WMA
    Manufacturer: Digital Networks (
    MSRP: $349.99

    There may be others (I missed the Neuros, apparently) but those were all I found.
  • by fellow ( 29324 ) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @03:00AM (#7646088)
    If you own a SonyEricsson P800 or soon P900, try Leif Wilden's excellent Oggplay ( ) It's also available for Nokia's Series60 phones (7650, 3650, N-Gage) though as far as I can tell it only supports 16kHz playback for now. It's an excellent choice for the upcoming Siemens SX1 though where it supports the full 44.1kHz. And it's open source as well ( )
  • iRiver (Score:2, Interesting)

    by marsonist ( 629054 )
    I'm surprised that the iRiver line of products hasn't gotten more attention here. Their iHP120 [] is a 20GB harddrive based player that comes out of the box with OGG Vorbis support. It's predecessor, the iHP100 [], is a 10GB unit which recently received a firmware upgrade giving it Vorbis capabilities.

    Both players are almost identical in features and capabilities and have received rave reviews from Cnet [] (Granted, Cnet doesn't carry a lot of weight in these forums, but it was the only review I could find on short

  • All-in-one device (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rwa2 ( 4391 ) * on Saturday December 06, 2003 @03:30PM (#7649119) Homepage Journal
    I have to admit that I'm not enough of a music fan to consider blowing over $100 on something that just plays music. But it would be cool to have it all with me everywhere I go. So far, I haven't seen any integrated small device that does it all, so I've found it cheapest to build everything around a laptop and lug around all the components in the bag:
    • $1400 Dell laptop w/ NVidia 3D card, WiFi, bluetooth, IrDA, USB2.0, Firewire
    • $150 Garmin GPS, plugs into serial port
    • $80 tri-band GSM/GPRS phone w/ bluetooth & IrDA. Right now I just use dialup, but eventually I'll add $20 a month for unlimited GPRS service (~120kbps?) from T-Mobile. I figure I'll get much more use out of this than their WiFi access, since I don't spend all that much time in Starbucks & airports.
    • $150 Quickcam Pro 4000 or whatever for laptops. Haven't bought this yet either, since I already have a normal digital camera ($200), as well as a firewire DV camcorder ($450).
    So all this equipment fits in a bag together and pretty much lets me do whatever I need to do when I go somewhere, just about anywhere:
    • Check email / Slashdot from anywhere around the world with GSM/GPRS/WiFi coverage.
    • Find out where the hell I am, tell me where I'm going, and how to get to a good restaurant when I'm there
    • Take pictures & movies of what I'm doing. Haven't worked out video conferencing yet (no one to video conference to) but it's on the list.
    • oh yeah, play music / movies, both from my entire personal collection, or streaming from the internet
    • Have all of my Personal Organizer info with me, as well as work
    • ...and if I'm not having enough fun where I am, I can play games.
    I'd love it if someone made a small pocket device with all that functionality (PDA, GPS, GSM/GPRS, WiFi, good quality photo & movie camera, music player, & >20GB storage), but I just haven't seen it yet - only in bits and pieces. Until then, I'll likely just continue lugging my backpack around :P

"Unibus timeout fatal trap program lost sorry" - An error message printed by DEC's RSTS operating system for the PDP-11