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Fourteen Digital Music Players Reviewed

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the christmas-in-april dept.

Music 497

prostoalex writes "The PC Magazine reviews 14 digital music players that can play MP3, WMA or AAC files. The editor's choice among the models compared includes Apple iPod Mini and iRiver iFP-390T. The editors decided to conduct a single review of both Flash- and HDD-based music players. Of special interest is the battery life test as well as sound quality test. Even though the entire article is published online in HTML, the summary of the features is available in PDF only."

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big deal (1)

anthrax_spork (532086) | more than 10 years ago | (#8918942)

nm

I am French (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8918945)

From article:

"so simple even a frog could use this."

Why must article discrimenate againt the French ? We are good people. Too much now in the US is anti-French feelings, like "freedom fries". We helped US defeat Hitler, and France is a leads computer industry.

Re:I am French (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8918958)

Are you also a French grandmother?

Re:I am French (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8918988)

You may be french, but you are also an idiot. The French didn't help at all in WWII, other than to give the Nazis a place to stay while the Americans pummelled them.

Re:I am French (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8919035)

Oh, so the people who died working for the French Resistance were just messing around then?

Interesting ...

Re:I am French (-1, Offtopic)

lederhosen (612610) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919056)

No, but France (the state) did.

Very few (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8919075)

"Oh, so the people who died working for the French Resistance were just messing around then?"

The French resistance was a tiny movement. Most of the French were happy to welcome and serve their new German overlords, and to help them rid France of Jews.

The nasty antisemitic streak lives in today's France: a country now noticed for its massive brownshirt "Down with the Jews!!! rallies.

Re:Very few (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8919118)

Yeah - true enough.

Just wanted it on the record that there was some sort of popular resistance.

Re:Very few (0, Offtopic)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919167)

I quite found it funny watching the discovery channel this week and seeing the french where pussy's even to the vikings.

Apparently the king just got up and ran from Paris under fear of being killed by them.

As for the french resistence... it is true, they where a small group. Its a known fact the goverment of france really had no problems with Germany invading as long as they got to keep their wealth. Kinda like how France was all upset we invaded Iraq because we took away all of there nice contracts with them that where paying the French wealthy millions of dollars. The French goverment parades around like they are the peoples country, when they really are just as bad as our shit stain of a presedent, in it for the greed.

Re:I am French (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8919090)

So we should thank the French for assisting us in removing the Germans from their country? That sounds about right.

Re:I am French (-1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8918993)

We helped US defeat Hitler

How? By making the Germans walk around the Maginal Line (sp?)?

Took them a whole week to do that.

Re:I am French (-1, Offtopic)

lederhosen (612610) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919013)

It was not US that defeted Hitler it was UK
and Soviet.

And France did not do much at all.

Re:I am French (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8919055)

Nice revisionist history. I don't think there is one historian out there who would agree with you but nice anti-US sentiment. Without the help of the US the UK would have become one big V2 parking lot of rubble.

Re:I am French (-1, Troll)

lederhosen (612610) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919146)

It is not anti US. It is what happend.
I am glad that US did enter the war (after Hitler
declared war against US) else Soviet would have
done much more harm. But the fact is that the US
involvment was not that great.

Re:I am French (-1, Flamebait)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919080)

What color is the sky in your world? Don't answer now, I can wait till you come off your LSD/Crack trip.

Re:I am French (-1, Funny)

Perl-Pusher (555592) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919150)

It was the combined efforts of the US, UK & Russia. The US came in late a fresh, it helped shorten the war immeasurably. France was a door mat that said "Bienvenue!" (Welcome). The germans obliged an wiped their feet on it. The germans said "Danka! Verlierer!" (Thanks! Loser!)

Re:I am French (1)

lederhosen (612610) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919258)

Thats right, it is what I tried to say.

I would order it the other way around though,
i.e. Soviet, UK and then US (where does Canada
fit in)?

Re:I am French (-1, Offtopic)

scottking (674292) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919047)

none of us defeated hitler, he defeated himself through bad decisions and petty vendettas.

Re:I am French (0, Offtopic)

Sidde (758228) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919180)

exactly, Hitler striked againt sovjet, and he i didn't brake the sovjet army line, he lost too many soldiers and at the same time he fought war in other directions. Bad strategy I say, and 20milion sovjets lost there lives but they stopped him. But that is just my view of it all. And I am a Swede, I stand natural in this ;)

Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (4, Interesting)

monstroyer (748389) | more than 10 years ago | (#8918947)

And out of the 14 that are reviewed ZERO play Ogg Vorbis.

Marketers, manufacturers, and capitalists: LISTEN UP!

* I'm 29, single, and work [si20.com] in the computer [trotch.com] industry. Therefore, I like gadgets and have disposable income.

* I'm a hobbiest musician [madtracker.net] and I have been encoding everything, no exception, in OGG VORBIS since 2003. Like the teenagers say, so last year.

* It is feasible to port the Vorbis decoder/encoder to a platform without floating point support. [vorbis.com]

There's your demographic. Stop reaching for the teenagers and start making products for people who can afford them and desperately need them.

Your profit margins will thank you.

PS: I'm posting this from an iBook. I won't buy an iPod until it supports OGG!

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (2, Insightful)

Wizzo1138 (769692) | more than 10 years ago | (#8918961)

Two Words:
Rio Karma

Rio Karma is noteably absent (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8918983)

It's a great player that competes in the same market as those test, and it plays Vorbis and FLAC.

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (5, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8918996)

Yet OGG isn't "Where it's at" business-wise right now. Right now the handhelds are optimizing to be compatible with either Apple iTunes (FairPlay-ed AACs), RealNetworks Rhapsody (RealAudio codec), or Napster/BuyMusic/Walmart files (Microsoft WMAs).

Each manufactuer is picking exactly one to align with... and nobody's pushing OGG from that side of the business.

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (1)

Ziviyr (95582) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919308)

It sounds incredibly difficult to go anywhere in this market with a "RealAudia" only p[ayer.

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8919008)

Except ogg doesn't sound any better than mp3 above 128kbps. So what is the advantage of ogg over mp3 in this case (we are talking about 2 channel compressed sound files here)? Honestly nothing is going to beat mp3 anytime soon...

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8919030)

Sure it does. Plus, you can have a smaller Vorbis file (ie 96 or 112kpbs) sound just as good as the 128kpbs mp3. That means more music in your finite storage.

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (2, Informative)

ponds (728911) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919037)

Ogg is an open format, MP3 is not.

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919082)

"Ogg is an open format, MP3 is not."

So what? Do you realy think anyone is going to sell a music player that wont have MP3 support? And if it has MP3 support, whats the point in OGG? The market is MP3 (because everyone uses it), ACC (because you can buy songs in it) and WMA (because its smaller then MP3 and because Microsoft says so).

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8919299)

Seriously, WHO GIVES A FUCK? Honest question.

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (1)

radish (98371) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919144)

Except ogg doesn't sound any better than mp3 above 128kbps

Me thinks you need to get your ears syringed.

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8919284)

I'm kind of surprised that people haven't gone for ogg or any number of other codecs - they are free. Mp3 is, as I understand it, owned by a company that collects a royalty every time an mp3 is used commercially. If these media players are connected to music purchasing services, why would they go for formats that cost money? Fear of using an unfamiliar codec hasn't hurt Apple...

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (1)

nkh (750837) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919301)

You're right about 128kbps encoded Vorbis files, but 64kbps Vorbis sounds almost as good as 128kbps MP3! Which means you can have twice more files for the same quality.

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8919012)

You are lost in a totally different world. You represent less than 1/10th of 1 percent of the potential market for these things. If I walked down the hall where I work (made up almost entirely of accountants with plenty of disposable income) I bet not one of them knows Ogg but all of them knows MP3.

Don't be fooled into thinking that the slashdot population is at all representative of the real world.

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8919063)

How many of them know about Slashdot? A group of accountants is hardly a fair sample of the population at large.

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8919179)

It is a hell of a lot better sample than slashdot is. Accounting - from bookkeepers to CPA's and everything in between - accounts for a very large percentage of white color jobs. Who do you think is buying mp3 players, construction workers?

Get realistic. If you want I will stand in Bryant Park and ask everybody the same question. If I get more than 10 people who know what Ogg is then I will give you my next paycheck.

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8919269)

Please mail it to:

Anonymous Coward
c/o Slashdot.org
The Internet

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8919020)

Note true, you can patch most iriver players to support ogg

check out this site:
http://www.millerpc.co.uk/shop/news/october /iRiver _OGG.asp

since you work in the computer industrie, you should be able to patch a mp3 player ;)

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (2, Interesting)

scooby111 (714417) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919033)

Since you represent less than 1/10th of 1% of the population, I'm sure they'll get right on it.

Let's face it, teenagers make up a very large percentage music consumers.
When was the last time you spent $15 on a CD? I can't remember the last time I paid for any music or even listened to a radio station that played new music. The vast majority of music listeners on any age use MP3s or CD's. Why not cater to those people first? It just doesn't make sound business sense to cater to the minority.

With that being said, I'd be much happier myself if they'd support all music formats.

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (5, Funny)

cmdr_beeftaco (562067) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919058)

Fruitcake LISTEN UP! * I'm 31, single, and work in the computer industry. Therefore, I like gadgets and have disposable income. * I'm a hobbiest musician and I have never heard of OGG VORBIS and have been encoding everything, no exception in MP3 since 1999. * It is feasible to play mp3 everywhere, that's why I don't have to bitch on slashdot to get support. There's your demographic. Continue reaching for the teenagers because it makes me feel younger and hipper with my white headphones. Your profit margins will thank you. PS: I'm posting this from an XP. I won't buy anything unless it cost money.

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (2, Informative)

ValourX (677178) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919083)

The iRiver H120 [iriveramerica.com] and H140 are iPod-killers with better looks, cheaper prices, and Ogg/Vorbis support.

-Jem

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (1)

BorisZ (772356) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919086)

I don't know why the parent got modded Funny. He definitely has a point. Ogg Vorbis is a great codec and really should be incorporated in portable media players. Ogg Vorbis is found in an ever increasing amount on mucisian's sites and by leaving support for it out of your player, you're losing a lot of revenue. Quite a portion of the geek crowd would love to have an affordable Ogg/Vorbis portable media solution. /rant off. PS: Like my other posts this is probably getting modded down. It must be my karma or something. ;)

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8919222)

Please provide 5 links with Off Vorbis encoded music. You are just as delusional as he is. If they lose $10,000/yr in revenue because of not supporting Ogg I would be amazed.

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (5, Interesting)

American AC in Paris (230456) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919088)

Oh, get yerself a Rio Karma and quitcher whinin'. I'm a video freak, and you don't see me bitching about how hardly any consumer TV sets support anything more exotic than RCA component in, do you?

The manufacturers have heard the Cry of the Hardcore Ogg Fan, and they've responded with a collective "meh." Most of them simply don't give a damn about your niche. Rio does. Support Rio and quit acting like you're all downtrodden.

The iRiver plays Ogg (2, Informative)

Delirium Tremens (214596) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919103)

The iFP390 family plays Ogg very well.
I know first hand, I have one.

Here is the firmware [iriver.com] for it.

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (5, Insightful)

blackmonday (607916) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919109)

Unfortunately, you're not the target demographic. The target is a teenager / 20 - something with disposable income. MP3 is the standard and is what 99% of people care about. I believe the Rio Karma has Vorbis, get that one. If I hear a 17 year old girl ask about Vorbis support when she's looking at the pink iPod mini, then I'll be on board with you.

iRiver HP 120 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8919110)

The iRiver HP 120 supports Ogg beautifully and looks just like a USB hard drive, meaning it is fully cross platform. Also the battery life is about 3x longer in years than the iPod, and lasts about 16 hours on one charge. I love mine!

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (3, Insightful)

chrisgeleven (514645) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919112)

I hate to say it, but there are what, maybe a few thousand people who even know what Ogg Vorbis is and even fewer that actually use it.

The amount of effort required to port a decoder to a particular portable music player is probably way more then the rewards of a few more people buying their product.

The amount of protential profit must be at least the amount spend on development tools, employee salaries, etc, if not more.

Trust me on this. They aren't going to go through the effort if it ends up making them lose money doing it.

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8919259)

The iRiver iHP line of hard-disk players supports OGG.

I have a 20GB version - about 12hrs battery life with normal play, built in recording of a quality sufficient for lectures, optical + regular line-in/line-out. Natch.

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8919279)

Hobbiest? Gosh, I'm only hobbier. What can I do to get that top-level status?

Although I suspect you meant "hobbyist".

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (4, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919314)

Do you hear that rumble in the distance - the growing outcry for Ogg Vorbis support on portable music players?

No?

Well I don't hear it either. That's because ALMOST NO ONE CARES. Outside of a small minority of the Slashdot crowd, there is basically no consumer demand for Ogg Vorbis. Deal with it.

(Well, that's sure to burn some karma...)

Re:Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis?Ogg Vorbis? (2, Informative)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919329)

Yes! I couldn't agree with you more. But I won't hold my breath. At the moment I play oggalicious files on my Zaurus. Sucks battery, but it may suit your needs...it's also a PDA running GNU/Linux to boot... ;o)

Rio Karma (4, Interesting)

Dante (3418) | more than 10 years ago | (#8918975)

Christ where is the Karma? My Karma just kicks ass, It uses USB 2.0 and Ethernet. Supports Linux. Sounds great, gets loud when I want it to be. Came with decent earphones Sennheisers no less. Has amazing battery life and weights just a few ounces, and holds 20 gigs.

And get this, it does ogg and flac, why would I want anything else?

Re:Rio Karma (4, Funny)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919022)

Slashdot Error: Karma-whore detected. :)

Re:Rio Karma (2, Informative)

zoobaby (583075) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919105)

They left the RIO's off completely. Kind of funny if you ask me. I have the RIO Nitrus and love it. It is 1.5Gb and small enough to fit in the palm of my hand. The batterylife is rated at 16 hours, but I usually get about 20 on mine. It is (IMHO) the perfect size. I can fit enough music on it to keep me happy during a three day trip.

One con for it is that it is not USB2.0 High Speed. So when you transfer a gig, it takes some time.

Karma: kicks ass (0)

xlurker (253257) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919125)

  • ... My Karma just kicks ass ...
I want that kind of karma also

Re:Rio Karma (2, Informative)

falconed (645790) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919175)

Also missing is Dell's music player [dell.com] . My wife bought me one; it holds 20gb, the battery seems to last forever and the sound is great. Best of all, it's priced at only $250 for the 20gb model. Odd that pcmag didn't include the Dell in this lineup since they already reviewed it [pcmag.com] last year.

I dont use apple earbuds with my ipod (5, Informative)

ElGnomo (612336) | more than 10 years ago | (#8918976)

earbud quality != player sound quality

Re:I dont use apple earbuds with my ipod (1)

blackmonday (607916) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919142)

Wow, you're on of the few people I know who don't like the iPods earbuds. I do tons of audio work recording bands and such, and I use high end headphones, and I think the white earbuds are awesome. I thought I broke em once and I freaked, because they're a special order item unless you feel like springing for the iPod remote too.

No, earbuds suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8919292)

Seriously. They're annoying in yours ears, they're annoying to put in, and they don't sound very good.

Lightweight headphones that are high quality are where its at. Koss makes a nice pair for $40 that rival anything out there.

Earbuds. Please. They scream "I Like AM Radio".

Re:I dont use apple earbuds with my ipod (2, Informative)

Black Perl (12686) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919155)

earbud quality != player sound quality

Technically true, but poor-quality or poor-fitting earbuds are the biggest factor (by far) of inferior sound quality.

The best thing to do is find some good-quality earbuds that fit your ears well. It will make a huge difference, no matter the player.

Unfortunately most people don't do that. Therefore, I can see the point of a consumer magazine rating players by earbud quality.

This might be off-topic (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8918978)

This might be off-topic, but does anyone remember the name of that MP3/etc player that is shaped like a cassette and plays inside a cassette tape player?

Re:This might be off-topic (1)

nkh (750837) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919220)

This kind of player has usually 64Mo (128Mo if you're lucky) so you should better forget it... I'd rather buy a portable CD player which could play CDRs filled with mp3 if I were you (and the CD player is really cheaper).

Re:This might be off-topic (1)

drkich (305460) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919240)

<a href="http://www.digisette.com">digisette</a&gt ;

Re:This might be off-topic (2, Informative)

Shinglor (714132) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919267)

That is the Rome MP3 player. Tech Report Review [tech-report.com]

Grrrr.... (3, Funny)

telstar (236404) | more than 10 years ago | (#8918990)

Anybody have the summary PDF mirrored? I don't feel like creating another account with another password, and nobody's offered me chocolate [slashdot.org] to do so.

Karma has OGG (4, Informative)

ponds (728911) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919009)

My Rio Karma is full of 20 GBs of ogg vorbis encoded lovin' .

It has about 13 hours of battery life, and can talk by USB 2.0, USB 1.1, or even 100mbit ethernet. When I plug it into the ethernet, it runs a webserver with a java applet that allows you to send and receive software.

It works on any operating system with a VM/java plugin without a hitch. I use it in Linux and didn't have to set up anythign when I got it.

Don't know why they didnt review it...

Does it have the iPod battery problem? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8919025)

Will the Rio let you open it to change the battery without destroying it? Does it have the iPod problem of "oh the battery died. throw it away and buy another" ?

Re:Does it have the iPod battery problem? (1)

weslocke (240386) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919275)

Will the Rio let you open it to change the battery without destroying it? Does it have the iPod problem of "oh the battery died. throw it away and buy another" ?

The Karma doesn't have that problem, so Rio America doesn't have a replacement plan for fear of worrying prospective customers. Rio Japan however has a replacement plan going just in case, net cost of about $40 USD.

The only problem the Karma has had with any real frequency is the hard drive dying. But this is usually attributable to having the unit dropped/jarred/etc (for instance one guy went through five players and was griping. After a while everyone found out that he had it hard mounted into his car with no sort of shock absorption for the unit. Maybe an iPod would handle it better, maybe not.)

And something else that I haven't seen posted about the Karma is gapless playback. I believe it's currently the only unit to support that, which is nice for live recordings.

It has its drawbacks too (can't be seen like a USB drive natively, no folder support, no real case included) but has better sound (supposedly) than the iPod, cheaper than iPod, a _great_ playing interface w/ a very intuitive 'DJ' app, very solid feel, OGG/FLAC, and some very active developers that not only put out firmware updates on a frequent basis with all sorts of nifty things (I think they just put out beat matching. For when you're driving or something and want 'Music With an Insane Beat' or something like that) but actually participate in the forums (Riovolution [riovolution.com] is one) that are around.

Only had mine for about 2 weeks, but you'd have to cut my hand off at the wrist to get it away from me.

(Oh yeah, and it comes with a set of Sennheiser earbuds. No explanation needed there, I'd think)

What's more important (1)

eblis (140713) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919014)

Would you rather have longer battery life, or better sound quality. I want both. Is this reasonable? And support for ogg vorbis is also a must.

Re:What's more important (1)

skiflyer (716312) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919182)

Playing OGG's will kill the battery faster in just about any player as the calculations are more intense... check out the iRiver battery run comparisons for real world evidence of the fact.

On the iHP's the battery life goes from around 14 hours to 12.

Strange Selection (5, Interesting)

jhage (9442) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919021)

No Rio players at all (either Nitrus, Karma or any other). One Creative. Whole bunch of really odd choices (Sony MD player?). Given what they reviewed, I guess the iPod would come out on top.

FM support (4, Interesting)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919023)

I'm rather interested in seeing some of these that support FM radio. I hadn't really thought about it, since other than NPR I haven't listened to much radio for the last 18 months (why bother? It's the same damned stuff they were playing 3 years before that!).

But it makes some sense - most walkman's, even CD based ones, have AM/FM radio support. A MP3 player shouldn't be that different.

Though, maybe there is a very small portable XM radio player. Hm - something to look into.

Re:FM support (1)

Ashyukun (551101) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919122)

The lack of a FM tuner is definitely my only real gripe with my iPod Mini. You'd think given how small the circuitry for them is these days that it would be a simple matter of adding it in (and using the headphones as the antenna), but unfortunately they didn't. I'd gladly buy one if someone put out a device that plugged into the iPods and added a FM radio to its capabilities...

Re:FM support (1)

Black Perl (12686) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919202)

The FM tuners in these players all suck. Maybe it's a lack of a decent antenna, but I haven't been able to get decent reception out of any of them.

Now if they can shrink an XM tuner down to the size of one of these things, I'd get one!

Re:FM support (1)

lintux (125434) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919152)

My iRiver CD/MP3 player supports Ogg Vorbis (beta) and has an FM-tuner. I don't know whether the Flash/HDD iRiver players have a tuner though...

Re:FM support (1)

ArghBlarg (79067) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919283)

iFP 595-T has an FM tuner. Also line-in recording, encoded in real-time to MP3! At sampling frequency/bitrate you choose too! (up to 44.1KHz/256bps IIRC).

iRiver iFP-390T (2, Informative)

xlurker (253257) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919187)

has an FM reciever...

More like... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8919070)

...PC Faggot-zine.

No, I'm not an Apple zealot. It's just that PC Mag has a lot of really dumbed-down articles.

Missing choices (4, Interesting)

wizarddc (105860) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919073)

I know they could review only so many devices, but I'm disappointed they didn't review any Archos [archos.com] products at all. I've had my Jukebox Studio 20 for 2 years and it still works great. It might be a little heavier than most, but battery life has never been an issue for me. This thing rules. Why did they review 9 Memory players, and only 3 HD ones? What gives?

Who else had their favorite player ignored in this?

Re:Missing choices (4, Funny)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919129)

Because it makes it easer for Apple (a major ad buyer) to win.

Re:Missing choices (1)

nitz7978 (712386) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919241)

here here... I have a jukebox 5000. I have upgraded the os to rockbox and added a 30GB hard drive to. couple that with 2050ma batteries and this thing has to be at the top of the list of most cool gadgets out there. Archos seems to never get any recognition at all. I'd love to see some other reviews of their products and see what everyone else thinks of them.

How could they miss the Jens i-bead? (2, Interesting)

MrBlic (27241) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919097)

They missed my favorite player, the Jens (sounds like yens 'cause it's Sweedish.)

It was the editor's choice for one of those sites (ziff davis or pcweek or something) a few months ago when I bought it. It's the size of a stick of chewing gum, has 512MB Ram, USB connector at one end, and it's also an FM Radio and a voice recorder. Even better, it comes with a really cool neckstrap with built-in earphones. The icing on the cake is that it is delivered in a really sexy black aluminum tube.

Oh well... (warning: very loud flash-enabled homepage!)

http://www.jensofsweden.com/ [jensofsweden.com]

-Jim

Saturday Night Live (0, Offtopic)

karnal (22275) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919263)

If it's not Scottish, it's CRRRAP!!!!

This beggars belief... (5, Informative)

radish (98371) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919100)


They didn't even review the Rio Karma? Are they smoking something? If there's one player out there which has repeatedly been shown to be the genuine iPod beater it's the Karma, yet a supposedly "thorough" group test doesn't even mention it.

For the uninitiated:

* 16 hours battery life
* 20gb capacity
* Smaller than an iPod
* Plays AAC, WMA, MP3, FLAC, OGG, and more (Audible coming soon)
* Fully supports GAPLESS Vorbis, FLAC and mp3 playback. This is unique among portable players and a very big deal for a lot of people.
* USB2.0 & Ethernet connectivity
* Fully supported under Windows/Mac/Linux - works on any platform with Java & Ethernet
* Best of class sound quality
* Full 5-band parametric EQ
* On the fly playlists, Rio DJ (randomisation, new tracks, old tracks, most played etc)
* Crossfade between tracks
* The thing just ROCKS

I will be writing to the editor...

Re:This beggars belief... (0, Troll)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919200)

Rule 1: Do NOT offend major ad buyers.

Eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8919305)

Are they smoking something?

It is April 20th....

One problem with it (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8919342)

That goofy remote. It spoils an otherwise interesting player. I was all set on it, looked at that WIRED remote and said "No thanks".

I don't want a remote. I don't care if its wired or wireless. Its a wast of money and space.

No Toshiba Gigabeat or MPMan? (1)

neonstz (79215) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919113)

It's strange the neither the Toshiba Gigabeat [dynamism.com] nor any of the MPMan-players [mpman.com] are included in this review. Some of the MPMan-players got a battery life of 50 and even 100 hours.

Why wouldn't they include the regular iPod? (3, Interesting)

Toxygen (738180) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919119)

Maybe they were trying to review the newer players on the market, I dunno, but the iPod has seen 3 generations so far and having just bought a 3rd gen iPod a few months ago I'd be interested to see how it compares. The last generation is certainly more recent than some of the players they reviewed, so why wouldn't they include it?

Headphone Amplifier (2, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919123)

Chu-Moy [dansdata.com]
Picture [dansdata.com]

Before I got the amp, I'd grown used to hearing clear buzzy distortion on low bass when I wound the volume up. I assumed it was the poor Sennheiser headphone transducers being pushed past their limits.


Nope, it was the wimpy motherboard sound hardware running out of juice, and clipping
These things are fairly simply to make & I'm going to do it as soon as i get around to it (I even have a few empty tins of Penguin Mints). I realize the thing is equal to or bigger than some of the tested players, but it is pocketsized.

Bah! (5, Informative)

Espen (96293) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919154)

"iTunes is incapable of displaying file types"

Give these guys a thesaurus! What do they think the "kind" column is for in "view options"?

And is it really worth reading a review that sees anything worthwhile in: "The 3.4-ounce iPod Mini has more EQ selections than any other player"?

iRiver! (2, Interesting)

andrewdk (760436) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919159)

I so dearly love my iRiver(s). I bought an iFP-190TC for $200; and then I won 3rd in a contest from iRiver themselves and got an iFP-380T. Wonderful. But why didn't PCM review the iRiver H series of players? They compete with and surpass the various iPods by far, IMO.

Microsoft offering a competitive environment? (1, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919195)

If you use iTunes, the only handheld player that can help you is an iPod. You're stuck picking from Apple's line of products.

If you use Real's offerings, you need to have your head examined. There aren't very many players out there supporting Real's file type.

Strangely enough... Microsoft's the one coming to the plate offering a competitive environment.
WMA is the most popular "secure media" media format among the players being reviewed. There's several music stores competiting for your business on a song-by-song basis, with Wal*Mart as low as 88 cents a song and BuyMusic as low as 79 cents for hit songs, blowing Apple's 99 cent offer out of the water.

Also... Microsoft has the most exposed API. If you want to build your own application to control your digital jukebox, Microsoft has a full SDK for its Windows Media Player 9 Series, with a powerful ActiveX object and the ability to go deeper if you want to. Real has no open API for playing its scrambled files, and Apple's is only available to C++ programs with a lot of time on their hands. In short, if you think you can design a better interface for digital music, Microsoft's giving you to the best tools to do so.

Re:Microsoft offering a competitive environment? (2, Informative)

repetty (260322) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919293)

"If you use iTunes, the only handheld player that can help you is an iPod."

This is just not true.

--Richard

What about the Neuros? (4, Informative)

talexb (223672) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919199)

It seems odd that they didn't include a review of the Neuros [neurosaudio.com] Audio unit. I have the unit with the 20G hard drive, and although the firmware is a little wobbly, it's a great unit with a cool feature called HiSi [neurosaudio.com] , or "Hear it - See it" that lets you identify a song on the built-in radio or even on a P.A. system through the internal microphone.

Dedicated software for iFP-390T? No! (5, Informative)

87C751 (205250) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919214)

The review lists "dedicated software" as a minus for the iRiver iFP-390T. Wrong! Here is the UMS update [iriveramerica.com] . My 390T looks just like a disk drive to my Gentoo box.

Holy Mary! (4, Informative)

ilikejam (762039) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919271)

The frequency response curves on all those headphones is absolutely horrific!
Do yourselves a favour - buy the cheapest player and get a pair of headphones for $30. It'll sound way better than anything with the supplied headphones.
I think I'll be sticking with my 'old school' MiniDisc Walkman (and yes it is a Sony, so yes I can call it a Walkman) and my Grado SR60s. Mmmm. Expensive.

other mp3 player review source (4, Interesting)

hackman (18896) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919317)

It seems like it is hard to find factual reviews of mp3 players. This might be useful to some of you, check out the playerblog [playerblog.com] site which has postings of mp3 player reviews.

Also missed Dell DJ (2, Interesting)

seatbelt123 (669131) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919327)

I bought one about two months ago and I'm extremely happy with it. Pros: - 15gb - 16hr batt life (specified, but seems to last longer) - $200 Cons - MusicMatch - Navigation not as nice as iPod

About the iRiver Units... (1)

ArghBlarg (79067) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919336)

Nice units overall -- I bought an iFP-595T while in Japan this past January. Good clean audio output, and it does line-in recording with realtime encoding to MP3, at KHz/bitrate of your choosing (up to 44.1KHz/256bps IIRC).

However, some caveats:

You need to use their dumb iRiverManager front-end app to get files in/out of the player. They have alternate USB mass-storage firmware that lets the unit just show up as a removable drive, but "curiously" the MP3 recording rate is crippled in that firmware... hmmm. If I were paranoid I'd think they were trying to 'discourage' the unit's use as a USB mass-storage device, as it would let you copy MP3 files in/out without restriction. They have a lame DRM-check in the manager software so you can't copy files with a .MP3,.WAV (who knows what else) extension back off of the unit -- unless you gave them a bogus extension before putting them *on* the unit, hint hint).

I just made a perl script that renames all .MP3 files in a directory to .MP3.REC -- then the iRiverManager software lets you copy the files on/off with no problems.

They apparently have beta OGG support but I'm not upgrading until they un-cripple the USB mass-storage version of the firmware.

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