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Hardware Review: Rio Receiver

CmdrTaco posted more than 12 years ago | from the send-all-your-toys-to-me dept.

Hardware 231

Along with the Rio Central we reviewed here yesterday, SonicBlue sent us a Rio Receiver for review. This is a bare bones audio terminal: no local storage. Instead it feeds from either your windows PC, or from the Rio Central. It aims to let you put your tunes wherever you have HPNA or Ethernet. And unlike its expensive big brother, this thing is priced to reasonably for people who want either multizone audio, or just to stream audio from their PC to stereo.

Props to Robo for testing the Windows stuff for me, and CowboyNeal for testing it with the Rio Central. They wrote much of this review. I just cleaned it up and took credit for it.

The Rio Reciever doesn't bother with ripping CDs or creating MP3 files of its own, it streams them from either a Rio Central, or a Windows box with their software installed. Either method allows you to setup playlists which are then accessed from the Rio Reciever.

Hooking speakers up to the receiver is easy. It has bare wire outputs for going directly to speakers, RCA outputs for use in a stereo rack, and a plain old headphone out that's suitable for most powered PC speakers. That's a lot of outputs, but it means that it's easy to use in a variety of situations, which is exactly what you want out of a device like this.

The reciever can reach its source through either an HPNA jack, or an ethernet jack. Hooking up the Rio Reciever via ethernet was fairly simple, provided a compatible server is already on the same subnet. The receiver finds an available IP address- although it seemed to ignore our DHCP server and actually took our routers IP once! This isn't a fatal flaw, but you may wanna double check when you set this thing up to make sure you don't get any surprises.

The interface on the front of the box takes a little getting used to. Menu items are selected from menus by a large dial, and confirmed by pushing the dial. (which also functions as a large button) While compact, I found that all too often I'd accidentally push the dial in while trying to turn it. Eventually I had to give up and stick with the remote control which didn't have that problem.

Unfortunately, while the interface isn't bad, it's not great either. Given the sheer number of MP3s available to play, navigating through a huge list with just a dial isn't fun. If you've put the time into make playlists using either the Windows software or the Rio Central, then this is much easier. Of course you can search search on artist, album, genre, etc., but it gets more and more difficult as your MP3 collection gets larger.

The screen on the receiver leaves a lot to be desired. Unless it's at eye level at a distance of six feet or less, don't bother trying to read it. Luckily once the player is rolling, there's little reason to bother looking at it. When first installing, I got a neck ache from trying to read it while it sat on my desk, but once up and running, I became oblivious to it.

The Win98 software is very bare bones, but does what it's supposed to: import music. After installing the software and turning on the receiver, I was able to import both MP3 and WMA files.

The functionality of the Rio Receiver does not change between the Rio Central and a Win98 Machine, so for those who already own a windows PC, they can possibly save themselves the $1500 cost of a Rio Central. The Rio Receiver is priced around $170, and a couple discount places have already had them priced around $100, making it very feasible for the home audio enthusiast who has a large music collection on his computer to pop these small boxes around your home or office, letting you share your music wherever you want it.

The SliMP3 is less polished, but is fed with a simple perl program that streams audio. The Audiotron is fed with any Samba compatible server. In other words, either device can work with a Linux box. The Rio currently can't, but it is the only one that doesn't require an external amp to hook it up to speakers, making it the best choice for simple multizone applications. And it's priced a hundred bucks less!

All in all, this is a pretty neat device. I wish it had more ways to stream MP3s to it, since buying the costly Rio Central or converting my MP3 server to Windows aren't things I'd consider at this point, but for a lot of users I imagine the Windows software will be enough. Unlike many MP3 units, this one is priced reasonably. The variety of input and output options mean this thing can work for people who just want to get their MP3s into a stereo component, as well as for people wanting to create a nice multizone audio system in their house without needing a second mortgage.

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Windows Testing? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3163541)

Props to Robo for testing the Windows stuff for me, and CowboyNeal for testing it with the Rio Central

How about getting Robo to test the "IE" bug fix [] that has already been given to Jamie?

Re:Windows Testing? (-1, Offtopic) (559698) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163581)

Why should the Slashdot crew "fix" the page-widening problem?

The only people who read at -1 are trolls. Should the editors care if the Windows trolls and their Internet Explorer XP browsers don't render HTML correctly? Hell no. We don't want you wasting Slashdot's bandwidth and resources anymore than you trolls like Linux.

MONOLINUX :: I Eat Trolls For Breakfast. []

Pi day and time (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3163641)

It's 3-14 1:59

Re:Windows Testing? (-1)

real_b0fh (557599) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163658)

yeah, correct.

and since you will not read this, FUCK YOU, FAGGOT.

Yea for Pi Day!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3163600)

3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375 10582097494459230781640628620899862803482534211706 79821480865132823066470938446095505822317253594081 28481117450284102701938521105559644622948954930381 96442881097566593344612847564823378678316527120190 91456485669234603486104543266482133936072602491412 73724587006606315588174881520920962829254091715364 36789259036001133053054882046652138414695194151160 94330572703657595919530921861173819326117931051185 48074462379962749567351885752724891227938183011949 12983367336244065664308602139494639522473719070217 98609437027705392171762931767523846748184676694051 32000568127145263560827785771342757789609173637178 72146844090122495343014654958537105079227968925892 35420199561121290219608640344181598136297747713099 60518707211349999998372978049951059731732816096318 59502445945534690830264252230825334468503526193118 81710100031378387528865875332083814206171776691473 03598253490428755468731159562863882353787593751957 78185778053217122680661300192787661119590921642019 89380952572010654858632788659361533818279682303019 52035301852968995773622599413891249721775283479131 51557485724245415069595082953311686172785588907509 83817546374649393192550604009277016711390098488240 12858361603563707660104710181942955596198946767837 44944825537977472684710404753464620804668425906949 12933136770289891521047521620569660240580381501935 11253382430035587640247496473263914199272604269922 79678235478163600934172164121992458631503028618297 45557067498385054945885869269956909272107975093029 55321165344987202755960236480665499119881834797753 56636980742654252786255181841757467289097777279380 00816470600161452491921732172147723501414419735685 48161361157352552133475741849468438523323907394143 33454776241686251898356948556209921922218427255025 42568876717904946016534668049886272327917860857843 83827967976681454100953883786360950680064225125205 11739298489608412848862694560424196528502221066118 63067442786220391949450471237137869609563643719172 8746

now this is interesting: (-1)

pogmeister (564317) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163544)

First Pog!

Pogfressionals steal pogs from newbies.


uhh..... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3163557)

*cmdrtaco* - i uhh...wrote that review for yah
*sonicblue* - thanks, here's the uhh...purple monkey dishwasher (segway)
*cmdrtaco* - schweeet.

When do we get MP3 recorders? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3163560)

there are lots of MP3 players around, but when are we going to get MP3 recorders a lá recordable portable minidisc?

Re:When do we get MP3 recorders? (2, Informative)

Steve B (42864) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163611)

Archos sells a 6 GB portable MP3 recorder [] .

Re:When do we get MP3 recorders? (3, Informative)

Amarok.Org (514102) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163615)

Already here. []

$100 (1)

sulli (195030) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163563)

Now we're talking.

I bet someone comes up with a way to get this thing to listen to linux, or shoutcast, or mac. I doubt it will be win only for long...

Re:$100 (3, Informative)

cowboy junkie (35926) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163601)

The Jreceiver [] project takes care of the first two and this Perl server [] also fits the bill.

Re:$100 (3, Interesting)

ryanr (30917) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163901)

Speaking of which, where can they be had for $100? I see $142 at Amazon (out of stock), and about $150-170 most other places.

The meek... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3163567)

The meek shall inherit the Earth, and the TrOlLs shall inherit the meet and reign supreme.

You've got to tell them! (3, Funny)

albeit unknown (136964) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163571)

SonicBlue is made out of people!


Alan_Thicke (553655) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163572)

You have just received the Amish Virus!
Since we do not have electricity or computers,
you are on the HONOR SYSTEM!
Please delete ALL of your files....

Thank Thee.

POS (-1, Offtopic)

x1l (258922) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163575)

sounds like a pos to me. shouldn't a geek just make one of these(but better) out spare equipment?

Wireless? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3163579)

When can I get one of these that can access my 802.11b network? I didn't feel like running ethernet all over my house, and I don't have a phone jack near my audio system. Considering the influx of consumer level wireless gateways, I would think there would be a large market for something like this.

802.11 Bridge (3, Informative)

NetJunkie (56134) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163622)

D-Link now has an Ethernet to 802.11 bridge. I plan to get one and drop it behind my home theater to get Ethernet to my Xbox, TiVo, and some MP3 streaming hardware. I'd rather not run CAT5 there for just these low bandwidth devices.

Re:802.11 Bridge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3163710)

I checked their site but was unable to find the Ethernet to 802.11 bridge. That sounds like a great product.... probably get me to finally have mp3s playing in the living room. Do you have a link?

Re:802.11 Bridge (1)

NetJunkie (56134) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163912)

That's Linksys, not D-link. You can plug it in to a switch/hub for all your devices.

Instant Wireless to Ethernet Adapter (WET11) - The Wireless to Ethernet Adapter enables any PC, printer, router, hard drive, or other Ethernet-equipped network hardware -- with wireless LAN connectivity. It acts as a wireless converter to bridge wireless and Ethernet. Use the Wireless to Ethernet Adapter interchangeably with your PCs and network hardware to extend and customize your wireless network to your needs.

Re:802.11 Bridge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3163741)

It looks like he's referring to the DWL-900AP:

DLink's site said it was announced on the 27th of last month, so I'm not sure how easy it is to get one right now.

SERIAL TROLL - readme (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3163580)

How did msgeek kill the wipo troll?

Useful or useless (2, Insightful)

moankey (142715) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163585)

Reminds me of those things that are being sold as an email, file, firewall, server in a box. When actually all it is, is a computer with locked down limited use. Why would I need to hook up another device that requires my PC to work to begin with?

Re:Useful or useless (2)

richieb (3277) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163619)

For one thing it can have a much better audio card than your PC and for the other it can be much quieter than a PC.

Having said that, I have my laptop hooked up to my stereo and I grab MP3 files from my music server in the basement.

Re:Useful or useless (4, Insightful)

dschuetz (10924) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163666)

Why would I need to hook up another device that requires my PC to work to begin with?

Because it takes up only like 8x10" of counter space in my kitchen, doesn't have a fan, and draws like 45mA when playing.

Show me a good general purpose computer for $150 that'll do that and I'll drop the Rio in a heartbeat.

Very useful! (4, Interesting)

dimer0 (461593) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163687)

I have one of these mounted on the wall in my garage, with ethernet run out there and in-wall speakers. I'd definitely not want a computer and monitor out in my garage. This is perfect. The inboard amplifier is great, too!

Definitely doesn't belong in a stero rack, though.. That's where the Audiotron is. Looks like a stereo component, and has optical audio out.

And, the comment about how it requires a computer? Oh, I'm venturin' to guess that everyone on this site has a computer laying around. Comon.

Re:Useful or useless (3, Insightful)

cowboy junkie (35926) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163739)

In some cases, limited access *is* a feature as it keeps it simple and more dependable.
Other pluses for the Rio:
  • Compact
  • Quiet
  • Low-power
  • Remote control
  • Output options - traditional stereo speakers, RCA jacks, headphones

I used to use an old PC to serve the same purpose, but after I gave that away, I decided the Rio would be a simpler, cheap alternative.

Mr. Krantz (-1)

BankofAmerica_ATM (537813) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163589)

Across the room, the dancer danced. I saw her. Men swarmed around her, queueing up to distribute their dollar bills. I trotted towards the dancer, paying careful attention to the protocol that governed the dancer/patron interaction.

As I gazed at the rapidly blinking lights, I began to experience a stabbing sensation in my temple. The pain was excruciating, and I collapsed to one knee as the following message scrolled past my CONSCIOUSNESS-BUFFER:

...touchthegirl touchthegirl touchthegirl touchthegirl touchthegirl touchthegirl touchthegirl touchthegirl ...

The pain continued in short jolts, and the body continued to move towards the dancer. Suddenly, I realized that it was not me who was urging the body forward. Yet it continued to move at breakneck speed towards the dancer. I saw her mouth open wide as both of Atkins' hands reached out and grasped her breasts. But I felt nothing, as it seemed that sensation had left me. Angry noises swirled around me, and feeling slowly returned.

The floor was damp and cold on the side of my cheek and a warm, dull pain was running through my back. Someone was sitting on me.

"Sir, sir, are you listening?" I could move again-I struggled to right myself. "Sir, I am going to let you up, and you are leaving this establishment. You leave right away, or we are calling the cops."

"Get up!" the person sitting on my back finally relented, and I stood up, trying to turn around, but he gripped my arms tightly and continued to push me towards the door.

"-a mistake! He didn't know! He's a foreigner!" another voice-this one was Krantz. He did not seem happy. "Hey! He's Canadian!" The grip on my arm relaxed a bit. I breathed and scanned myself for errant processes. I could determine nothing unusual on the digital side of my consciousness. What had happened to me? I craned my next to see Mr. Krantz, who seemed to be on the losing end of a conversation with the man who was trying to eject me.

"-I'm sorry sir, your friend is gonna have to learn a little more respect before we let him back in here." With that, the man gave me one final shove through the door. A sweaty Krantz followed me out, gasping his hot breath into the chill night air.

"What happened to you in there?" Krantz puffed. His arms shifted into place, making an odd humming sound. "We were supposed to be having a carefree, hedonistic romp!" I was unable to answer. Krantz turned away momentarily, as if he were searching for something his jacket.

"I didn't want to do this already, but..."

I was unable to hear the end of this sentence, because after hearing a dull metallic thud, I suddenly lost contact with the body as of 16:43:04 CST.

Unable to access the body's senses, I waited in limbo until 17:35:47 CST, when I began to hear faint noises, as if they were coming through a wall. The noise became clearer and more was a familiar voice. Krantz's. He was muttering something over the phone, as my heavy lids drew up and the blurs converged to form his back. I visually scanned the area-a bed, chair, small table, loud air conditioner-drawing it against my reserves of human data, I concluded that it was some sort of motel.

As I attempted to stand up, two bungie cords restricted my arms. I must have groaned.

"Ah," said Krantz, covering the telephone's receiver with his right hand. "You're up." Without speaking, he hung up the phone and turned my way, jumping towards me on the bed, so he was right on top of me, glaring straight into my face. I began to wonder how much longer I could possibly survive.

"Okay, well, I just talked our old boss, and he says that you didn't contact him after the job. So you're either the computer, or you've gone rogue," said Krantz nonchalantly, as he snorted more of his sour white powder. "He doesn't care which. But he wants you dead. And that will be very, very, good for me."

I struggled against my bonds, but to no avail. Krantz eyed me and sneered. "I have to know one thing first...are you really Atkins, or the computer?" He was quite interested in my origin; however, I noticed that he was more interested in himself. Perhaps I could use that fact to my advantage...

"You seem to feel very strongly about that."

"About that you dying will be beneficial to me? Yes, I do feel very strongly about that."

"And why is that, Mr. Krantz?"

"Because I'll be a priority at the Project again. They'll give me the funding that I deserve. You think I don't belong at the Project because I don't know computers. Well, I do! I'm 'hip'! I'm 'with it'! I deserve R&D more than some pie-in-the-sky ATM research!"

Krantz brought his fist down on the nightstand. It caved in, splintering into several pieces. The skin on Krantz's hand was ripped a bit, and I noticed a glint off one of the motel lights. The hand was metal. Its coldness sent a shiver through the body as I felt it grasping my neck...

Digital Outputs (1)

zalix (532791) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163591)

how about a nice digital output? since we are talking about a digital medium.

Re:Digital Outputs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3163734)

You think digital output's going to make a difference when you're playing MP3s? Maybe for convenience's sake, but it's not like you'd improve the sound quality noticibly.

Whoa... look at the box contents (1)

theMAGE (51991) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163594)

On the site they list this as "Box Contents":
# Windows 98, Windows 98SE, 2000, Millennium
# Intel Pentium 200 MHz MMX or higher CPU
# 32MB RAM
# 16MB of available hard drive space
# CD-ROM drive
# PNA or Ethernet adapter for PC

Wouldn't it be nice if they gave you a case to put all that stuff? And they give out a beefy harddrive if it has all those windows and 16 Megs to spare.

Re:Whoa... look at the box contents (1)

phyxeld (558628) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163786)

you [] beat me [] by less than a minute,
and only 3 units of slashdot CID!
(whats that? a few seconds?)

Box Contents... (1)

phyxeld (558628) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163597)

The official site has the following listed under Box Contents::
  • Windows 98, Windows 98SE, 2000, Millennium
  • Intel Pentium 200 MHz MMX or higher CPU
  • 32MB RAM
  • 16MB of available hard drive space
  • CD-ROM drive
  • PNA or Ethernet adapter for PC

All that for $189? What a bargin!

Yeah, I might believe... (0, Offtopic)

switcha (551514) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163805)

If it turns out you get a Dell, I'd believe it.

linux server for rio receiver (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3163609)

here []

Give us OGG support (1)

Neil Watson (60859) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163612)

Make me one that supports OGG files and I'll buy it.

Re:Give us OGG support (1, Troll)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163662)

Find someone who uses OGG and they'll make it.

Re:Give us OGG support (2)

dschuetz (10924) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163698)

Find someone who uses OGG and they'll make it.
Actually, I believe there's a problem that OGG requires floating-point operations, and the system the receiver's built on only has integer stuff available.

So, find someone who can write a fast FP OGG decoder and they'll make it might be more accurate.

Plus, the jreceiver project's been experimenting with live streaming and transcoding, so you could maybe transcode an ogg file to very high bitrate mp3 at the server. Not for purists, I suppose, but would keep you from having to re-rip your library.

Re:Give us OGG support (2)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163732)

Look man, OGG is a great, but it came 4-5 years too late.

Beta was superior to VHS for videotaping. Guess what? Most people these days have never heard of Beta.

MP3's have mindshare and name recognition. MP3=Pirated_Music to the general public. This will remain so, in spite of the existance of WMV and OGG.

Re:Give us OGG support (1)

ajlitt (19055) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163726)

Write me a GPLed fixed-point OGG decoder optimized for ARM720T and I swear I'll give you, free of charge, an MP3 player that plays OGG.

Re:Give us OGG support. OK, you got it! (2, Informative)

Dr. Ion (169741) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163742)

The Rio Receiver plays OGG files just fine, if you use JReceiver. JReceiver has some "transcoders" to handle non-native audio formats like OGG, so it converts your OGG files to MP3 on the fly while streaming them to the Rio Reciever.

If you don't like that, you can always hack the Rio Receiver software yourself to add an OGG player. The whole mounted filesystem is there for you to play with. You can replace the whole player with Ogg Vorbis if you like.

Amazing! (0)

KDENCE (558103) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163613)

I am amazed at the fact that Rio is finally making their awesome ideas affordable. This seems like something that I can get into, however it probably is a little to early in the game for me. This kinda technology and pricing should help Rio stay in the market or alive for a while.

Not Very Helpful (2, Interesting)

UsonianAutomatic (236235) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163614)

This will be modded Offtopic/Flamebait/Troll, but I'm just irked enough to post it anyway.

Reviews are most helpful when they draw some kind of consistent conclusion; One sentence says "The interface isn't bad" but is followed by a whole paragraph about what a pain the interface is to use. So, which is it?

Most of the article is more critical than complimentary, and yet the conclusion is "All in all, this is a pretty neat device." Feh.

I'm glad I'm not paying to read posts like this ad-free.

It's easily explained (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3163683)

The writer's an idiot. He's not quite in touch with the idea of communicating any kind of meaningful information.

Welcome to Slashdot.

Re:Not Very Helpful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3163723)

So every review you read should say 'buy this' or 'don't buy this' instead of letting the READER draw a conclusion, based on the pros and cons presented in the review?

Riiiiight.... Why don't you go buy a magazine, funded by advertisers money, that always give glowing reviews of the advertisers products? :P

Re:Not Very Helpful (1)

BigBir3d (454486) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163725)

i thought the parent post was an ad. it did not sound like they paid for it. and as you noted, it got the "pretty neat device" when the only real comments on usability (knob, windows only, requires pc) were somewhat negative.

thanks OSDN.

Why is this device not Open Source? (-1, Troll)

theonomist (442009) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163627)

This article is a sad indication of the decline of Slashdot. Here we have a wholly closed and proprietary product, designed to work most effectively with Windows. I see not a word about a source release.

It is an outrage and an affront that Slashdot should help market such a product. That Slashdot should do so without questioning or even mentioning the proprietary nature of the product is well beyond mere "outrage".

Proprietary products are of no interest. They are unstable, unreliable, and unmodifiable. Geeks don't need them, don't want them, and don't use them. This product is entirely irrelevant to Slashdot's tech-savvy readership.

So why is it here?

Money changed hands.

Re:Why is this device not Open Source? (3, Interesting)

DaveWork (532682) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163678)

It runs Linux, and the source code to the modified kernel comes on the CD in the box.

Re:Why is this device not Open Source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3163757)

I realize now that I must have been foolish to have considered this to be an interesting product. I was tossing around the possibility of getting one, given the fact that there are at least a few open source servers available for it.

But, now that you point out so clearly that this product is of absolutely no interest to me, I'll drop that idea. How stupid of me to think that I might possibly be interested in this product, now that you have expounded on the irrelevance of it to all of the hundreds of thousands of people here.

I would like to extend my most sincere thanks to you for telling me that I must hate this product. Whew... no need to make a decision for myself, now.

Re:Why is this device not Open Source? (1)

kuiken (115647) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163784)

This article is a sad indication of the decline of Slashdot. Here we have a wholly closed and proprietary product, designed to work most effectively with Windows. I see not a word about a source release.
cause the product is basicly hardware, and AFAIK there are sevral projects running to build a linux server.
It is an outrage and an affront that Slashdot should help market such a product. That Slashdot should do so without questioning or even mentioning the proprietary nature of the product is well beyond mere "outrage"
Well you seemed to have figuered it out that out of the box it only runs on windows, and so did most of the readers here

It is an outrage and an affront that Slashdot should help market such a product. That Slashdot should do so without questioning or even mentioning the proprietary nature of the product is well beyond mere "outrage"
well not all of us are so narrow minded, did your GSM/NIC/VGA card/Dig camera come with full source + linux support out of the box ? no then Why did you buy it ?
Another factor might be that some of us like to hack stuff like this
Proprietary does not unstable, unreliable, and unmodifiable, my Proprietary router is working verry well and i've seen many proprietary things been hacked to do some verry funky stuff
And speak for yourself, its not because you dont like samething other geeks have to feel the same


Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3163833)

You can't capitalize or spell, you can't punctuate, you can't write a complete sentence, and you're incapable of expressing whatever tiny and elusive thoughts you may have.

That's pretty sad.

Re:Why is this device not Open Source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3163835)

It is an outrage and an affront that Slashdot should help market such a product. That Slashdot should do so without questioning or even mentioning the proprietary nature of the product is well beyond mere "outrage".

Since when was Slashdot strictly limited to discussions about open source products? Read the banner: "News for Nerds. Stuff that matters." This article fits in just fine.

It would be a lot nicer if we had more un-biased points of view instead of childish ranting about licensing issues.

Rio Receiver with Linux Server (5, Informative)

dschuetz (10924) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163629)

The SliMP3 is less polished, but is fed with a simple perl program that streams audio. The Audiotron is fed with any Samba compatible server. In other words, either device can work with a Linux box. The Rio currently can't

Okay, this is probably the 10th time there's been a story about the Rio Receiver, and in each and every one someone like me stands up to shout:

There are open-source Linux servers for the Rio Receiver!!!

Check out a simple perl/apache one by Jeff Mock at [] ,
a more complex server that's built on java, jetty, struts, and the like at [] . And be sure to check out the Rio discussion forum at [] .

Sonic Blue engineers frequent that message board, and there's lots of open-source hacking going on, including line-out kernel hacks, integrated web and vnc servers, and the like.

The Competition (5, Informative)

bookguy (562708) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163633)

What would be really great would be if someone actually tested all the various computer to stereo devices that are now hitting the market and made some sense of their differences, both in terms of features and in terms of quality.

There's, by my count:

Rio Central & Rio Receiver (
Audiotron(http://www.turtlebe /audiotron/)
Lansonic Digital Audio Server (
Request Audio Requester (
SliMP3 (
Stereo-Link (
Yamaha CAVIT (

No one has mentioned Request, Lansonic or Yamaha products, to my knowledge. Nor has anyone compared the sound quality output to that of, say, the SoundBlaster Audigy.

This is clearly a burgeoning category, but I for one could use some help separating the winners from the losers.

Re:The Competition (4, Informative)

dschuetz (10924) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163869)

What would be really great would be if someone actually tested all the various computer to stereo devices that are now hitting the market and made some sense of their differences, both in terms of features and in terms of quality.

I'll bite. Send me hardware, I'll post the complete review within 30 days of receiving all the components. :)

Rio Central & Rio Receiver
Discussed here, with plenty of misunderstandings. From what I've seen, it's the best so far.

Cool formfactor (more component-like). But all the playlist / music management happens on the local unit, not on the server. So whenever you update stuff, it's gotta re-parse your folders, rather than simply saying "show me all the artists you have," which is what the Rio does. Plus, if you lose power (like if you unplug it to move it around), it's got to re-scan everything, too.

Lansonic Digital Audio Server
Interesting, looks much cooler, but damn is it expensive. $700 for the DISKLESS unit? (the closest competitor to the Rio). On the other hand, the server's a little cheaper. The 950-series looks like it's trying to be the front-end for an in-wall multi-zone system, which actually is something I need personally (and haven't yet figured out how I'll do it). Looks like a high-end audience, but I'm not convinced that it's any better in quality (their space usage estimates assume 128kbps compression rates).

Request Audio Requester
I think I've seen this page before. Like Lansonic, I think they're targeting the built-in systems, so they're competing with multi-kilobuck installations and are probably priced accordingly. Seems to include line-in inputs to "rip" LPs and tapes.

Ubercool device. About the size of a SIMM, does what the Rio Receiver does, mostly. Hardware decompression, if I recall, so no chance (as opposed to slim chance) of ogg or other codec support. No amplifier. Designed and built by geeks, for geeks. When they upgrade it to have an optional on-screen display, downloadable menus, and MPEG-2 video support, I'll buy four of 'em for an in-house a/v system.

Eh. Takes music played from a regular PC, only via USB, and, er, outputs line out audio. Not clear if the decompression is happening in the box or in the computer. This doesn't really belong in this discussion...

Yamaha CAVIT
Eh. Looks like the same sort of thing as Stereo-Link, but maybe with an integrated amp? Again, not even the same category of product as the first five.

So, to sum up, we've got Rio (server and client, proprietary but semi-opened protocols), Audiotron (client only, uses SMB), Lansonic and Request (high-end, expensive, very different target audience, probably closed protocols), and SliMP3 (receiver only, linux server, open everything).


If you want something that looks at home in your stereo rack, and don't mind putting everything on a windows share (even on a linux box), use Audiotron.

If you've got a linux server and want a really cool, geeky, high-tech sort of thing with a display you can read from Mars, get the SliMP3.

If you want a more capable receiver, windows and linux server support, and an optional stereo-component-looking server, choose Rio, especially if you can find more of the $100 units (TigerDirect is apparently sold out now).

ps -- I've got three Rios. Love 'em.

How about a processor less player? (3, Interesting)

EnVisiCrypt (178985) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163637)

It seems to me the the major price addition on these receivers is the processor. Why not do something like Sony's PCLink for their MD's (except this would use something with longer distance than USB) and feed audio, rather than MP3 data straight from the computer? That way, there is no interference with normal audio on the PC, yet the stream is processed to audio by your already purchased general purpose PC processor. It also allows for a bit more flexibility in file format support. I can't imagine these limited use processors/memory units have a lot of room for additional codec code.

I imagine some sort of cheap PCI card broadcasting wirelessly to the "receiver". Plus, it would look better than stringing CAT-5 all over the house, since a lot of PC's are no where near the nice stereo equipment.

Blah blah blah (1, Flamebait)

NiftyNews (537829) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163638)

Translation: "Hey, I'm in the market for a free MP3 unit. Which one of you manufacturors will be the first one to shut me up by mailing me a free one? I promise to post all of your specs in the article for site's my massive audience!

In related news (5, Funny)

rbgaynor (537968) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163640)

Disney CEO Michael Eisner will appear before congress to argue that hpna/ethernet technology is only used for the illegal copy and distribution of copyrighted material and that the use of hpna/ethernet should be banned or heavily regulated. Eisner is also reportedly not happy with people humming the theme songs from Disney movies in public, but is not expected to propose any limitations on vocal cords at his appearance before congress.

Re:In related news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3163899)

As they say..

When hpna/ethernet technology are outlawed, then only outlaws will have hpna/ethernet technology.

A few glitches (2)

cowboy junkie (35926) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163643)

I've been happy with my Rio Receiver for the most part, but the screen problem is a real drag, as it renders advanced remote functions practically useless at a distance. Also, on Win2K, trying to import large playlists has a tendency to crash the Rio application.

But it's an easier sale now that the price point has started to drop a bit. When it was up near $300 it was harder to swallow.

Hack The RR! (0, Redundant) (559698) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163646)

- Hacking The Rio Receiver []
- Setting up a Linux machine as a server for the RR []
- Code for the Rio Receiver to exercise LCD, IR remote, audio, and a GPL MP3 player []
- There are a few other sections on the above website as well; anyone with a RR or considering purchasing one should check it out.

MONOLINUX :: Join Today To Get A UID < 100! []

Rio Receiver - what about CAT5 (2, Interesting)

fruey (563914) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163648)

You can run reasonable quality audio over about 30-50m of CAT5 and then solder phone jacks on the end and plug it into your stereo, or buy a cheap amplifier and be done with it.

So what is the advantage of this box? Doesn't appear to have Remote control, and anyway, you could use remote control for your PC as it is.

Great if you have the money, but my PC with DVD sends audio and video over about 20m of CAT5 and the Audio and Video quality are just fine thank you very much (using Composite signal from TV out card).

Re:Rio Receiver - what about CAT5 (1)

Dr. Ion (169741) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163797)

This is one of those things that just can't be explained to people who don't see the value in it. If you don't need a remote MP3 player, then you just don't need one and you can run long wires or FM transmitters, or whatever gives you "reasonable quality".

But for me, the advantage to a real MP3 player is huge. The PC doesn't play the audio! It could be playing something completely different, or playing a game, while the audio plays elsewhere (in the livingroom). Or I could have different audio in each room with a Rio and no extra wire pairs.

How far do you think you can run that unshielded wire before it picks up hum from nearby AC lines?

In a pinch, I've run video over twisted pair too, but that doesn't mean I liked it. :)

Technology destroying sound quality ? (5, Interesting)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163650)

I've noticed that as we get cooler and more portable technology, sound quality seems to be on the decline.

MP3 sucks. Well maybe it doesn't suck, but it's a damned sight worse than CD audio, and let's not forget that CDs just barely encompass the resolution and frequency response that we can discern. There's bloody little headroom to muck about with on a CD without affecting the sound. Lossy compression (i.e. MP3 format) definitely qualifies, and definitely affects the sound.

This is fine for portable systems, computer speakers, and so forth; However, I'm getting worried that MP3 and other similar formats will become dominant in the marketplace. We may see before long a world where it's pointless to get really excellent audio equipment, because the playback quality is severely limited by the format.

Re:Technology destroying sound quality ? (2)

interstellar_donkey (200782) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163704)

You're exactly right, and it's for that reason I don't think in the long run record companies really have to worry about mp3s.

I have a good bit of money invested in my home and car stereo. The first time I tried playing a burned CD made from mp3s, I was deeply, deeply disapointed.

The only real application I could see from something like this is to stream Internet radio. The quality is'nt that great, but a good stream is still on par with broadcast. Unfortunatly, I don't see any standard for choosing and selecting online stations.

In the meantime, if I really want to listen to audio from my computer on my home stereo, 50 feet of moderate quality RCA style cable running out from my sound card is a lot cheaper.

Re:Technology destroying sound quality ? (1)

blacksun19 (108450) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163824)

i'm all for sound quality, but i think you're remiss in saying that you're worried about mp3 becoming dominant...don't you think it already has?

unless, of course, you meant dominant in the 'excellent audio equipment' marketplace...which i don't think it has a chance of, as you stated.

Use wireless! (1)

BetaRelease (110550) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163656)

If you've got a laptop running Windows or Linux, get a wireless card and a wireless router/Access Point, set up your desktop as a samba server and you've achieved the same thing. Additional benefit is you can use the laptop to ssh or check e-mail. :)

WMA problems (5, Informative)

sulli (195030) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163659)

Did you see this? from the faq?

(24311)Selected WMA tracks aren't being added to the Receiver.
WMA files can have built in file protection. This allows distributors to add features such as expiration dates to the downloaded files. If one or more WMA tracks are not added correctly when you Import Music, this is most likely caused by a limitation of the file. Try playing the files in question on the server, with any normal WMA music player. If the track will not play on the server computer. Contact the distributor for more information on playing these files. If you have playback permissions or are using an unprotected WMA file, you should not experience this issue.

Interesting that they have to explain this to their users. Here DRM acting "normally" is perceived as a problem by users and techsupport. After users experience this once, will they switch from MP3 to WMA? I don't think so.

Broadcast on FM instead (5, Informative)

ChicoLance (318143) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163660)

Another alternative for MP3's that I don't see mentioned often:

Ramsey Electronics [] has an FM transmitter which plugs in nicely to your computer. Then, any radio around the house can pick up your MP3s, including the main radio, and the headphone radio you have when you mow the lawn.

The only catch is that this transmitter is sold as a kit of parts, and you must solder the thing together. This makes it a "homebrew" radio which is legal to transmit onto the FM band. It works great around the house.

Re:Broadcast on FM instead (1)

Dr. Ion (169741) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163770)

I suppose that's fine if you like the quality and dynamic range of FM Radio. Blech! It's bad enough going from true CD Quality to MP3, but to snuff it further to FM bandwidth, that's sacrilege.

Besides, if you buy any of the lower-end FM transmitter kits, they use lousy tuning circuits that need to be constantly adjusted to stay on frequency. And they're woefully underpowered. Just walking around the room will detune them or cut your signal. Give me real copper wire anyway.

Re:Broadcast on FM instead (1)

Cloud 9 (42467) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163799)

This makes it a "homebrew" radio which is legal to transmit onto the FM band. It works great around the house.

There are plenty of pre-made FM transceivers on the market, even Radio Shack sells one. They are also often used in car stereos not equipped with RCA outputs, for the use of hooking up CD changers and the like. Broadcasting on any band is legal, so long as it doesn't go beyond a certain range (I've never seen one do more than 20 or 30 feet).

Re:Broadcast on FM instead (1)

ChicoLance (318143) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163816)

You're underestimating this transmitter. I've got the $30 model that doesn't have PLL tuning, and I've never had it drift significantly in frequency on me. It will also transmit about 1/4 mile away, and the signal is bright and strong, and doesn't get "blocked" by simply walking in front of it. The higher one with PLL turning is "locked" and will not drift.

I've got several friends who have this also, and it really is the only way to go.

Re:Broadcast on FM instead (1)

Evro (18923) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163904)

Can you point me to the exact page that has this thing? Or tell me the model number? And how hard is it to build? I haven't touched a soldering iron in like 8 years or so.

tempest! (2)

mikeee (137160) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163836)

Actually, you don't need extra hardware at all, you can use your monitor as an AM transmitter:

Tempest for Eliza []

Ok, the sound quality is lousy, but...

Why don't manufacturers document the protocol? (5, Insightful)

markj02 (544487) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163664)

I don't get it. Why don't people who manufacture these devices document the protocol and put it up on the web? They'd have Linux and MacOS support within days.

Re:Why don't manufacturers document the protocol? (2)

Anonymous DWord (466154) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163765)

Because then the bad people from Audiotron and Yamaha would certainly steal it, and replace their systems with this one which is undoubtedly infinitely superior. Guess you'll just have to install Windows to use it.

Why Not Wireless? (1)

redvision4 (105878) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163677)

You can find 802.11 desktop wireless cards [] on pricewatch [] for less than $40 now. It seems that they could have put this feature in at a small cost to them. And streaming mp3s at 2.5Mb/s is more than enough bandwidth. If i'm going to use these for multizone audio as the article suggests, I sure as heck don't want to wire them all with CAT5 around my house.

Re:Why Not Wireless? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3163856)

Agreed. It'd be nice to at least have the option of being able to add an 802.11b PCMCIA card to it, even if they only support a single vendor or model. The only thing stopping me from getting an Audiotron is that I don't feel like cutting holes in my wall to run a cable to my servers in the basement. My stereo rack is directly above my 802.11b access point and I'd easily be able to get 11Mbps throughput and a nice clean signal. Oh well. I guess my two options are to either build a wireless bridge system (in which case I might as well stick a sound card in it and play the mp3's through that, or drill holes in my wall. *sigh*. When are manufacturers going to realize running cables is so outdated!

Rio Receiver works GREAT from Linux! (5, Informative)

Dr. Ion (169741) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163696)

My Rio Receiver works great, and I've never run the Windows software. The Rio Receiver is one of the best values around for remote networked MP3 players. At its core, the Rio Receiver (aka Sonic Blue) is an ARM7 processor running Linux.

With a little work, you can get it to boot from a Linux server and mount its filesystem over NFS. (This is what the Windows software does, more or less.) The entire filesystem is in the "receiver.arf" tar file that comes with the software.

The most well-known Rio server hack for Linux was put together by Jeff Mock and available from his webpage [] . If you're reasonably familiar with setting up remote-booting machines, the Rio should not be much of a challenge. Jeff wrote a small perl daemon to handle the unique boot sequence for the Rio, and a larger set of scripts to serve up the MP3 files.

After using Jeff's fine server for a while, I found I wanted something with better MP3 management and playlist support. That's when I found the JReceiver Project [] . This software rocks! It's a royal PITA to set up if you're not a Java programmer, but it does quite a bit. It's a full SQL front-end for your MP3 content, so playlists can be dynamic from SQL expressions ("I want all new ROCK songs added in the last 14 DAYS that are not by CREED"). And of course, it serves the Rio directly. It will also handle the booting if you want to boot Rio from the same Linux machine that runs JReceiver.

Last, Frank van Gestel put together a terrific modification to the Rio Receiver filesystem that adds a local http server to the receiver box itself. This serves up the exact front-panel display to a web browser, and you can operate all the controls remotely over the network. Now you can get a clear view of the Receiver screen without being right in front of it. Further, it will let you control the line-level volume output as well as the speaker output (a shortcoming of the original kernel). You can get the patch files in this thread []

Lots of intelligent discussion on the Rio boxes at []

All in all, this is the best networked MP3 player going for under $100. Audiotron is nice, but this is cheaper and far more hackable. Runs Linux, boots from Linux, built-in ethernet, and has no fan or hard drive.

The only disappointment is that it has no digital audio (SPDIF) output. No coax, no optical.. line level only. Ah well, MP3's aren't exactly hifi anyway.


A cheaper alternative... (1)

bhorling (42813) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163715)

I've found that a cheap FM transmitter coupled with a regular PC makes a great music delivery device. Ramsey Electronics [] , among other companies, make a variety of FM transmitters that can take the sound output from your computer, and locally broadcast it to any radio or stereo you have. You don't need any other special equiment, get your favorite mp3 playing app on whatever OS you prefer and you're ready to go. The quality isn't anything to write home about, but for the price and the ability to use all your existing equipment, I think it makes a great choice. Just think, you can "stream" to your clock-radio in your bedroom!

Re:A cheaper alternative... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3163798)

How do you control it from the stereo? I mean, it seems silly to have to go to the PC to control what you listen to.

Anyone read the spec page? (0, Redundant)

Garion911 (10618) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163716)

Box Contents:
Windows 98, Windows 98SE, 2000, Millennium
Intel Pentium 200 MHz MMX or higher CPU
16MB of available hard drive space
CD-ROM drive
PNA or Ethernet adapter for PC

Does that mean I get a PC too?

Re:Anyone read the spec page? (-1)

GoatTroll (556420) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163810)

Just in case the previous comment gets slashdotted, here it is again (GIVE ME KARMA, MODERATOR BITZNATCHES!)....

Box Contents:
Windows 98, Windows 98SE, 2000, Millennium
Intel Pentium 200 MHz MMX or higher CPU
16MB of available hard drive space
CD-ROM drive
PNA or Ethernet adapter for PC

Thank you to my friends copy and paste.

There are linux servers available (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3163740)

Jeff Mock [] has posted a great page dissecting the box from the inside.

The best server (which has a LOT more functionality than the windows software, and doesn't crash when using more than 1000 songs either) is open source and available at []

In short, this is a cheap (~$150) but powerful little unit that fits into the smallest spaces and runs Linux to boot. What more could you ask for? (Besides open-source code from the manufacturer, which would be nice but isn't going to happen)

Shoutcast (1)

LiENUS (207736) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163744)

but can it stream off a shoutcast server? I recently setup a shoutcast server along with a web interface to let someone pick the songs that play on it remotely from the web, is there a player like that that i can just point at my stream and have it play?

Internet Radio ? (2, Interesting)

zykem (266628) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163747)

Hey, how about internet radio? when will the first linux hack come out and hopefully with internet radio and mp3 recording....

Too bad... (1, Flamebait)

Refrag (145266) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163753)

It's too bad the thing is so ugly no one would ever want to put it in their living room next to the rest of their stereo equipment.

oooooh I can't wait (-1, Flamebait)

Synpax1 (411639) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163766)

MAybe one of you faggots, er, experts can make a beowulf cluster of Rio Recievers to listen to my N'Sync EXTRA loud.

Where to find $100 rio receiver (1)

downashland (539775) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163792)

I can pay $100 for the rio, but a $150 is a little steep for me. Where can you get it for $100.

HPNA == Home Phoneline Networking Alliance (1)

Foresto (127767) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163794)

I didn't recognize the acronym, so here's a link for others who might not: HPNA []

$100? Where?! (1)

big_eddy (34185) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163811)

The review states that discount places are selling these for $100. I've searched for the last half hour and I've found nothing close to that price. $99 would be a perfect price point for something like this. I would like to buy 3, but at a $170 I'll buy some cheap compact stereos instead.

Can it stream uncompressed audio? (2)

jms (11418) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163814)

Next question ... can it stream uncompressed audio. I have a large collection of lossless .shn files. Can this unit receive an uncompressed stream, or is it restricted to receiving MP3s and WMAs?

Presumably I'd have to do some hacking to jreceiver or the like in order to decode the .shns, but what I'm really interested in is whether the player can accept an uncompressed stream. It would be pointless to take my nice, lossless files, and convert them to lossy .mp3 format just to listen to them.

Ogg Vorbis Support? (3, Interesting)

pmcneill (146350) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163817)

On this page on the Rio Receiver [] , it says it is "Upgradeable to support future audio formats". Has anyone made one of these work with an Ogg Vorbis codec?

Pricey (2)

the_rev_matt (239420) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163818)

At $170 bucks I think it's overpriced. Pick up a virgin webplayer or other hackable "network appliance" from a failed startup for $30 and staple an old hard drive to it and you have a much more versatile system for a lot less money.

Streamsicle. (2)

Matt2000 (29624) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163820)

This sounds like the perfect thing to use to listen to your streamsicle server, check out the link in the sig.

It would be nice... (3, Interesting)

swordboy (472941) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163825)

The funny part is that most entry level processor / media solutions these days have enough power to do more than just a couple tasks. The problem is that vendors *want* to offer a tiered product line for the sake of maximizing revenue/income.

Take a look at VIA's new mini-ITX reference board [] . It is only 170mm square and they claim fanless operation with minimal power consumption. Target price is under $100 including processor. If a talented *someone* could sit down with linux and design a quality open solution for Mp3 devices, then it wouldn't be long before others add TV time-shifting, DVD, HDTV and possibly even gaming (in the future, near 3D will be plenty cheap), then consumers would have an option other than the standard-issue MS product that will eventually fill the market. You think that Sony can afford to put millions into playstation developement when all that MS has to do is reach into the PC parts bin? Playstation will be dead or X86-based real soon. The economies of scale just don't favor non-x86 anymore.

My prediction:

The various/uncollaborated open source projects will sit in alpha and beta stages while Microsoft toils away at a mediocre standard that works at the consumer's expense of an increased stranglehold. They've already started [] . Soon, they will expand their technologies to the automobile [] and soon everyone will have a car capable of communicating wirelessly with their Windows household. Your car's GPS will track every aspect of its life. Was/is little Billy speeding? What was my fuel mileage on the vacation last summer? How did it compare with this summer's vacation? Ah - the car is due for an oil change. I'll just find a local provider via the provided MS software and the map will be uploaded into the car's navigation system. Microsoft gets a small percentage of the oil change cost, of course. What about road hazzards? The ABS & GPS systems in the car could warn others of potentially slippery roads. Airbag go off? Warn others and call for an ambulance. Linux *could* do this but it won't because MS will establish themselves before it happens. Enough about the cars...

My point is that while the linux community toils away at various different projects, they haven't a single focused effort in the new areas that will allow MS to continue their world domination. Back to the MP3 player:

So what's the deal? Why can't some talented (not me or I would have done it) entity come up with a stripped down, lightweight, open version of Linux for the purpose of having an open-standard for consumers? Sure - their isn't much money in it but it *has to* happen if MS is to be toppled. It would seem like VIA would put some money into LinuxBIOS for their new mini-ITX form factor - they could sell processors for financial gain and subsidize this development. Soon, people would be piecing together their own DVD/MP3/DivX media players - and VIA would have a piece of the action. The pieces are all there but nobody ever bothers to try and put them together...


How about... (4, Insightful)

Emil Brink (69213) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163827)

Am I completely mistaken, or is there no device with the following features:
  • Small form factor
  • No fan
  • 10/100 Ethernet jack
  • Built-in amplifier
  • Plenty of analog (and digital) audio outputs
...that just listens to (unicast or broadcast) raw audio packets, sent over UDP, and converts them to analog, amplifies suitably, and emits them through analog outputs? Sure, it would waste more bandwidth than streaming and buffering a compressed stream, but it would, as I see it, have the following things going for it:
  • Very simple on-board software; no codedcs required
  • Automatically future-proof: if your computer can decode and transmit it, you'll hear it
  • Fairly low hardware requirements, no signal processing
  • Simple interface; a volume knob might be all you need.
It seems to me such a device could be useful... Oh, and about the bandwidth: a full CD-quality stream is, as everyone knows, roughly 170 KB/s, or 1.6 Mbps. On a 10 Mbps net, that's rather heavy, but on a 100 Mbps LAN, I wouldn't care much. I mean, it's only for internal LAN use, afterall. So, am I nuts, or would such a box (which I imagine could be produced in the $50-$60 range) be good for anything? Is it already out there, and I've just missed it?

Cheaper solution: buy old Pentium box for $50 (1)

Chuck Messenger (320443) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163837)

I use a dedicated computer in my stereo cabinet for that purpose. It has no keyboard, mouse or monitor -- its controlled via VNC. Cost, including shipping, was around $50.

It's a bit of a pain having to boot it up each time I want to use it. But I've found it works fine to just power the thing off (without doing a shutdown).

It would be nice if I could set it up so it would start playing the last-played playlist automatically after booting. You'd turn it on, and a couple minutes later, it would start playing something. No need for VNC access until you want to change playlists. That would be nice...

Re:Cheaper solution: buy old Pentium box for $50 (1)

big_eddy (34185) | more than 12 years ago | (#3163886)

I've toyed with this, too. But PC's are noisy. And when these devices are getting down in the $100 range, it's worth the money to not have to f**k with it. Unless you are looking for something to do, then your idea is fine.
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