by Richard Menta 6/05/00
The next evolution of the S3 (formerly Diamond) Rio is here in the form or four new units.
We're not sure if the new Rio 600, which ships June 22nd, is a replacement for the original Diamond Rio 300. We say that because it neatly fits in between the parallel port 32MB 300 and the 64MB USB port 500, both in price and out-of-box features.
The Rio 600 comes with 32MB and the faster USB connection and starts at about $170.00. Like the 500 it is Mac compatible but also offers a removable faceplate - a popular gimmick with small electronics these days - to switch colors (like with Nokia cell phones, we suspect a Disney collection of plates will be out eventually).
There is a strong argument that the Rio 600, despite its clean simple look and lower price, is a step above the 500. That comes in the unit's ability to expand to 340MB. As we learned the hard way when we attempted to review Delkin's new 64 MB Smart Cards, the excellent Rio 500 can not read memory cards over 32MB. This limits it to 96MB of total memory with no upgrade in the works at present.
The Rio 600 plays MP3 and WMA formats and the bios can upgrade to handle any future formats. We will be testing the Rio 600 soon and will have a full review on it.
Rio Digital Audio Receiver
|The Rio Receiver is essentially an elaborate speaker system that allows users to port MP3 tunes from their computers throughout the house via existing phone lines. Running $300, it is a good stopgap measure for those who use their PC as a stereo, but want to be able to pipe the music anywhere. The user can plug several of these receivers into phone jacks throughout the house and stream music into each room. There is no ship date on the unit as of yet.|
At the beginning of the year, we reviewed Remote Solution's Personal Jukebox, an MP3 player that took the novel approach of using a laptop hard drive to give it 4GB of storage. It was too large to jog with, but it's ability to hold the entire record collection of most people made it great for home or car use. Essentially, once you convert all your music to MP3, you simply take all of your CD's and place them in safe storage. You then keep the unit by the stereo for home listening and when you have a long drive, grab the cassette and cigarette lighter adapters that come with the unit and you're off.
We rated this player a milestone unit and predicted others would follow, which they are now doing. First it was Creative who announced the Nomad Jukebox, a 6GB unit shipping this summer for $500.00. Now it's Rio, who have announced the Rio Jukebox.
Few details have been offered on the Rio Jukebox other than it will also come with a CD drive, differentiating it from the other two. They are probably keeping mum because the unit won't be out for a while and they want to trump the other "jukebox" portables in memory and features when it does. The unit also comes with Internet connectivity, hinting the unit will be able to bypass the computer for online downloads. Look for this unit not to see the light of day until the holiday season approaches.
Following the lead of the Empeg Car, a UK import and the first in-dash MP3 player for the car, Rio announced its intention to offer an in-dash unit. The player offers a removable hard drive which can be connected to a PC for adding music files.
Again, S3 has offered very little detail on this unit beyond just a simple announcement, but look for it to appear around the Christmas season with the Rio Jukebox.
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