SonicBlue Releases Rio Car In-Dash MP3 Player

By Richard Menta- 2/27/01

Last October when SonicBlue purchased the British company Empeg Ltd. they acquired the first production MP3 player for the dashboard to be released. Sonic Blue announced yesterday the shipment of the Rio Car, their version of the removable in-dash digital audio player with models ranging from 10GB to 60GB of storage.

The Rio Car is now shipping with 10MB, 12MB, 20MB, 30MB and 60MB versions.

With a single GB of memory capable of holding 300 MP3 tracks at the standard 128kbit-compression rate, Rio Car owners can easily store their entire collection of music on these players. No more CD or cassette cases littering the cabin floor, no need for a complex CD-changer to be wired from the trunk. Digital music's greatest competitive advantage is the ability to store hours of music using a minimum of space. It is easy to see how in a few years it will replace the cassette as king of the highway. Indeed, the sole reason pre-recorded cassettes are still a viable market player is the fact the great majority of automobiles have cassette players.

"Until now, the car audio experience was cluttered by plastic jewel cases," said the president of Sonic Blue's Rio division Jim Cady, "By storing all the music they own in one portable device, Rio Car frees music fans struggling to sift through their music, so they can simply enjoy it."

The Rio Car is identical in looks to the last version of the Empeg car who's site is still up marketing their player but will convert to a Rio brand site soon.


All Rio car models come with a remote control and according to the company integrates well with existing tape decks, AM/FM radios, CD players and amps. One of the more notable feature is the presence of RCA and power jacks in the rear. This allows the player to be brought into the home and attached to your home stereo system, a nice touch.

The player displays ID3 tag information that shows track name, artist, and album info for each song. A home computer with a USB connection is required to download the songs to the player. The Rio Car ships with a mounting tray, software, AC adapter, USB cable, serial cable, 9-to-25 way serial adapter and wireless remote control.

The player comes with a choice of a Blue, Green, Amber or Red display (a nice feature retained from the original Empeg player), a Mic input, a mobile phone mute, a tuner interface for an AM/FM module, and a 20 band digital parametric EQ. A 16MB memory buffer eliminates the potential for music skipping on rough roads.

Prices for the Rio Car are as follows; $1,199 for the 10 GB model; $1,349 for the 20 GB model; $1,599 for the 30 GB model and $1,999 for the 60 GB model. The players can be purchased directly from the companies e-commerce site at

Copyright MP3 Newswire 2001

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