By Richard Menta 9/19/02
SonicBlue just released the newest additions to the Rio MP3 portable line. Stepping away from the backpack designs of the Rio 600 and the Rio 800, both of these units come with 64MB of memory and are capable of reading 128MB flash cards. This gives them a top end of 192MB total potential storage.
The Rio S30S is SonicBlue's new sport model, replacing the Nike PSA[Play 120. Nike has since shifted over to Philips to created their updated line of sport players, leaving Rio to come up with their own neoprene update.
Supporting the now standard codec selection of MP3 and Windows Media (WMA), the Rio S30S attaches to the body via an adjustable armband like the Nike players. Both Windows and Mac compatible, the Rio S30S includes an FM tuner and a clock and stopwatch for those who want to time their workouts in the gym.
The unit runs on a single AAA battery, which SonicBlue claims will get 15 hours of play time. File transfers are handled by a USB 1.1 connection, which at 12Mbps per second have 1/40 the transfer speed of FireWire and USB 2.0 that are finding their way into a growing line of jukebox style digital music portables. Rio Music Manager Software is used to usher tunes through the USB port. Priced at $149.99 list, the unit is presently available on the SonicBlue site and as of this writing Amazon is taking pre-orders.
The Rio S10 is the more pedestrian model of the two, aiming for the average user who doesn't specifically need it when they are pumping away on the recumbant bicycle. Listing for $129.99, the Rio S10 reminds us of the discontinued Intel PocketConcert and has many of the same features as the Rio S30S including the clock and stopwatch. This unit comes sans armband and runs on a single AA battery, which SonicBlue claims gets up to 35 hours. If that claim is accurate, that is a pretty impressive achievment.
Like the Rio S30S, the unit handles MP3 and WMA tunes and runs on the same software. File transfers are als handled vis a USB 1.1 port.
The 128MB Rio S50 has an FM radio and is available on Amazon
“The S10 and S30S will strengthen SONICblue’s position as the market leader in portable compressed music devices,” said Ed Brachocki, vice president of product marketing on the company press release. “These new Rio products use the latest technologies to provide consumers demonstrable benefits—great sound, smaller size, dramatically longer battery life, easier to use software—in attractive styles at popular prices.”
One benefit we would like to measure is the improvement the Rio Music Manager Software has over SonicBlue's previous file transfer software, the at times frustrating RioPort Audio Manager. As MP3 Newswire stated in a past review "We have used Audio Manager for the various Rio products...for all it's good points, the more we use the program the more frustrated we get. The main culprit is that the software forces you to transfer files to your player from the software's database rather than directly from your folders".
MP3 Newswire has contacted SonicBlue and hopes to have reviews of the units soon.
The Apple iPod for Windows is available on Amazon in 10GB and 20GB versions.
Other MP3 Stories:
Samsung's First Jukebox MP3 Portable
Ogg Vorbis Makes Run for Portable Music Players.
A Third Hack on RIAA Site
New P2P News Site Goes Online
Trade Files? The US Attorney General May Be Coming After YOU.