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136 comments

strange (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10186928)

I tried to read the story, but it gave me a "nothing to see here, move along" message for a while.

How odd.

Glad to have options (3, Insightful)

Kyle Hamilton (692554) | more than 9 years ago | (#10186930)

Im glad that there are options for people that want to use differnt types of frimware we can pick our OS's and our software its about time we get to pick firmwere and drivers

iRiver minis? (1)

geeber (520231) | more than 9 years ago | (#10188121)

Hardware choice is nice, too.

Anyone know if iRiver is planning a small 4 or 5 Gb competitor to the iPod mini? They used to have a 1 Gb hard drive based player but it quickly disappeared. I love my iRiver flash player, but am really jonesing for more storage space while still having a built in radio in a teeny tiny package.

first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10186933)

first post
-melazyboy

Re:first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10186942)

YOU FAIL IT

Too little, too late (-1, Redundant)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 9 years ago | (#10186941)

What with the massively popular iPod and the newly-birthed Portable Media Center, I fail to see the target market of this device is.

Re:Too little, too late (5, Informative)

NNKK (218503) | more than 9 years ago | (#10186972)

The iPod is a joke at its price range.

The only competitor to the iRiver HDD players for me was the Neuros, and it was an agonizing decision, but the Neuros is just too big and needs special software to operate properly. The iRivers present as perfectly ordinary USB mass storage devices, and the database created by the Windows driver is completely optional, allowing for cross-platform compatibility without needing to fiddle with anything.

I needed Ogg Vorbis support, I needed cross-platform compatibility, I needed small and light. The iRivers aren't perfect, but they're good, solid players, and met my needs.

They've also got *really* cool remotes. :)

Cowon M3 (2, Informative)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187020)

What about the M3 then? Slimmer than iPod, longer battery life, more features, remote is a tad fiddly if you like the child-like interface of the iPod, but the stick of the iRiver isn't brilliant either.

Re:Too little, too late (2, Interesting)

Tim C (15259) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187252)

. The iRivers present as perfectly ordinary USB mass storage devices, and the database created by the Windows driver is completely optional, allowing for cross-platform compatibility without needing to fiddle with anything.

Indeed. I've had an iRiver IHP-120 since February, and I've not even opened the packet that the CD came in. Sure, that means that I'm missing out on stuff like the db creation tools - but I can't say I feel the loss. Plug the player in, drag 'n' drop files to it, unplug it. Easy. No computer support required bar USB and support for USB mass storage devices.

They've also got *really* cool remotes

That was what swung it in the end for me - the remote. I don't like carrying any more than I have to when I'm out and about, so whatever player I got was always going to be in a pocket, or on my belt, or whatever. Having a remote control with a display is really, really useful. After several tape and MD players that had cut-down remotes in terms of features, having one that can do everything the base unit can (bar displaying text files) is ultra-cool.

Re:Too little, too late (1)

Scud (1607) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187593)

Agreed, I had a Neuros and it was just too big. Otherwise it was great. I don't download music, my connection is way too slow for that. So the iRiver fits the bill nicely. I definitely like being able to use various formats with the iRiver, I have about 25% mp3's and the rest oggies.

I personally don't have any complaints concerning the firmware. It works fine as far as I'm concerned. Though I'd love to try out Rockbox's stuff :)

My only complaint with my iHP120 is that the damm thumbswitch is too small.

As a Newton owner, the only thing I have against Apple is the CEO of the company.

That may sound vindictive, but Mr. Jobs has shown a predilection towards dumping current products in favor of the next big thing. Or what will make him the most money. If Apple fans are able to see beyond that, fine.

Other than that, Apple makes some cool stuff.

John

Um... re: newton (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10188238)

That isn't really a current Apple product, you know.

The fact that Newton may have been a good idea maybe 5 years ago doesn't mean that the same interface, much less the same hardware, is capable of handling today's computing needs.

The Newton was good in its time. It provided Star Trek geeks with a workalike tricorder, but beyond that it was too big, too expensive, and too hard to use for anything other than basic contacts management.

As a completely, but thoroughly crucial, note, Jobs wasn't the CEO that killed the Newton. It was Sculley and that other dumbass at the helm of Apple that led it to the brink of chapter 11. Jobs has been doing what he can to bring the hardware company back from the edge.

Wishlist... (5, Interesting)

Gentlewhisper (759800) | more than 9 years ago | (#10186945)

I hope to see the same for iPods too. Do you guys know that if you buy a new hard drive for the store to install into your faulty ipod with a dead drive, there is nothing you can do to get it working again?

Some even hypothesize that Apple encoded something special into the firmware of the drives they buy as part of an anti-hacking measure.

I'd say to them "Go fsck yourselves!" to think that there are so many features that they did not implement, like a *real* EQ, and gapless playback, and even OGG format support, and yet their engineers have a lot of time to do stuff like these?

That stupid POS!

Re:Wishlist... (2, Informative)

nkh (750837) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187132)

I read that Vorbis decompression was too CPU intensive for the iPod and would suck its batteries too quickly (something with floating point emulation, I can't remember well).

Re:Wishlist... (OT by the way) (2, Interesting)

Gentlewhisper (759800) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187235)

The Rio Karma has similar hardware to the iPod but does it just fine. Supports OGG too.

Re:Wishlist... (OT by the way) (0)

chrish (4714) | more than 9 years ago | (#10188218)

Not to mention Ethernet on the charging cradle, and a lower price.

I'm hoping to get one of these soon.

The RIO Carbon also seems like a great alternative to the iPod Mini (more disk space, better battery life, etc.), especially if they can ramp up production.

Re:Wishlist... (OT by the way) (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 9 years ago | (#10188340)

The Rio Karma also has dual processors in there, somehting I don't THINK the iPod has.

I had the Karma, and loved it... until the battery died after the warranty expired.

Before that happened, it was great. The only thing I didn't like about it was they purposely made it hard to connect to. You had to use proprietary software, and couldn't simply treat it like a USB drive (without 3rd party drivers).

Re:Wishlist... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10188155)

Yeah, but you read it here on Slashdot... that's where I saw it, and it was quickly disproven as a weak attempt to justify the lack of OGG support and shut up the open source fans once and for all.

Re:Wishlist... (2, Informative)

makomk (752139) | more than 9 years ago | (#10188685)

I read that Vorbis decompression was too CPU intensive for the iPod .. (something with floating point emulation, I can't remember well).

I don't think floating-point is neccesary for Vorbis encoding. There is an integer-only decoder [xiph.org]:
The "Tremor" decoder library, an integer-only, fully Ogg Vorbis compliant software decoder library is now available under a totally free BSD-like free software license. You can check out module 'Tremor' from Xiph.Org Subversion.

Re:Wishlist... (1)

Lord Maud'Dib (611577) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187141)

I've not head this before but would it not be like the xbox locked hdd system? Obviously it would be a lot harder to unlock the old drive before removing it and almost impossible once its removed.

Re:Wishlist... (1)

Junichiro Koizumi (803690) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187457)

OK, so jerkcity said they'd be back on the tenth, but its at most the eighth today, and they're up, and with a bunch of new comics. What the fuck!?

Re:Wishlist... (2, Insightful)

leonmergen (807379) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187468)

The people at Rockbox weren't able to build in OGG support for the Archos either, since it's too cpu intensive. In the Archos, and probably in the iPod too, there is a hardware MP3 decoder.

iirc, they do give you a guide how to build your own OGG decoder, hardware-wise, but really, how many people would do that...

Re:Wishlist... (3, Informative)

damiam (409504) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187495)

Some even hypothesize that Apple encoded something special into the firmware of the drives they buy as part of an anti-hacking measure.

I dunno about drives, but the iPod firmware is quite easy to replace. Witness iPod Linux [sourceforge.net].

Re:Wishlist... (1)

Gentlewhisper (759800) | more than 9 years ago | (#10188643)

Nope, it is easy to replace the firmware. But once you change the DRIVE on which the firmware with ANOTHER "IDENTICAL" drive (and clone everything over sector by sector!).

The iPod would cease to work.

DMCA (4, Insightful)

mirko (198274) | more than 9 years ago | (#10186957)

Funny nobody mentioned it and why they'll be sued because they're not doing it as a hobby but as a company...
Unless iRever people actually agree but this'd be a first one...

Re:DMCA (4, Insightful)

mocm (141920) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187038)

As long as they don't use any iRiver code, why should there be a DMCA issue. That would be like saying I can't remove Windows from my PC/Notebook/iPaq and replace it with Linux because of the DMCA.

Re:DMCA (1)

kidgenius (704962) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187048)

What's wrong with writing a new operating system for an existing piece of hardware? Unless there are specific authentications being done between hardware and software that are protected, then nothing can be done to me. I'm not reverse-engineering their efforts. I am merely creating my own way of doing it. Maybe I don't understand some particular facet of the DMCA, but by all means, prove me wrong.

Re:DMCA (1)

mirko (198274) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187065)

If you're writing an OS for it, then you'll have it scanning your hardware and extracting info in a way that was not meant to be by the manufacturer/distributor (who solely intend this product to play sound files with a possible restriction -maybe not ATM but later, re-read the product EULA...- to DRM'ed stuff).
In this regard, and IMHO, I'd say they could argue about some DMCA violation even if I do not endorse this stupid west atlantic law (don't SCO attack Linux companies for something around as stupid ?).

Re:DMCA (1)

kidgenius (704962) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187348)

But, if your OS that you are writing is scanning hardware and extracting information in the way that the manufacturer did intend, then what's the problem? I guess, I conisder the "firmware" to be an OS of sorts.

Re:DMCA (3, Interesting)

Gentlewhisper (759800) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187364)

"If you're writing an OS for it, then you'll have it scanning your hardware and extracting info in a way that was not meant to be by the manufacturer/distributor (who solely intend this product to play sound files with a possible restriction -maybe not ATM but later, re-read the product EULA...- to DRM'ed stuff)."

Well, the First Sale Doctrine which appears in section 109 of the Copyright Act of 1976 states that the rights owner can not longer control the use of the copyrighted product once it's been released into the stream of general commerce.

Even if the said player is has "IP" in it, there is nothing that says I can't do whatever I deem fit to MY purchase.

I don't need anybody's permission to do anything with my property. If iRiver wishes to do something to my player, then they better seek MY permission in writing first!

Re:DMCA (1)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187102)

Things like the DMCA could do with a jury trial. Sadly, the cost of access to justice means that it probably won't happen.

I really would have loved to have seen the RIAA put a few of those kids in the dock and let jurors decide their fate. How many people would really say "you know what, prosecuting a 15 year old kid for copyright infringement is both a valuable use of court time, and something that deep down doesn't make me feel physically sick".

Cool but (4, Interesting)

sanmarcos (811477) | more than 9 years ago | (#10186974)

Will it keep the same features?, what if if my iRiver gets messed up with the new firmware?, then I doubt iRiver will replace it for a new one :/

Re:Cool but (3, Informative)

kidgenius (704962) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187063)

I have an ihp-120, and if I follow everything correctly, you really shouldn't be able to mess things up. You don't "flash" your player with software. Instead, it just sits on part of the harddrive, kinda like your regular OS on your homebox. If you have to replace the "firmware", you just would put the old on that part of the harddrive. I think the functionality of having a USB hard-drive is hardware, not software based, so reading/writing to the harddrive to fix a problem would be simple. Also, the hardware probably is responsible for checking for firmware updates. I doubt the software checks for updates of itself. If it was hardcoded into the hardware, then after you replace the file, the hardware of the player detects it, and loads it right up.

Re:Cool but (3, Informative)

crwl (802043) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187206)

The software for H1xx series is definitely on the flash, NOT in the hard drive. You can totally wipe the HD with, say, dd and the player still boots. The firmware file is only read from the HD (and decoded to flash) when you actually do a firmware upgrade from the players' menu.

Just think of it... (1)

grolschie (610666) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187420)

what if if my iRiver gets messed up with the new firmware?...

You'd then have the coolest paperweight in your office. "Be the envy of all your friends" and all that.

O is for Opinion (5, Interesting)

Bon bons (734068) | more than 9 years ago | (#10186984)

I'm skeptical about the success of this. One of the reasons the rockbox software was so popular and great for the original Archos Jukeboxs' was because their original firmware was terrible.

I wouldn't say that the iRiver firmware is great, but it's not as bad as the original Jukebox. The iRiver, after all, already plays Vorbis.

I would personally like to see software that sped up the loading time on the player.

Re:O is for Opinion (2, Informative)

djtrialprice (602555) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187269)

The iRiver, after all, already plays Vorbis.

AFAIK that's got nothing to do with the firmware (well, for Archos players anyway). The decoding of the mp3 format is done in hardware and I expect that the same is true for OGG on the iRiver.

I would personally like to see software that sped up the loading time on the player.

Anybody with an archos mp3 who uses playlists will vouch for that fact that rockbox's firmware pwns archos. It can take so many more songs and it loads them in a fraction of the time needed by the official firmware. Add to that the fact that rockbox add stability, functionality and loads of cool extras (you can play games and code your own plugins!).

If the iRiver firmware is anything like their previous efforts, you'd be mad not to try it out.

Re:O is for Opinion (5, Informative)

crwl (802043) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187472)

AFAIK that's got nothing to do with the firmware (well, for Archos players anyway). The decoding of the mp3 format is done in hardware and I expect that the same is true for OGG on the iRiver.

iRiver H1xx series players don't have any special decoding chips, but quite a fast DSP (a Motorola SCF5249 140MHz Coldfire, says Rockbox's site). The decoding of MP3/OGG/WMA are done in software, if I'm not totally mistaken. The Archos players have a special MP3 decoding chip, and the Rockbox firmware doesn't support for example Ogg Vorbis just because of that.

Re:O is for Opinion (4, Insightful)

y0ta (809549) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187321)

It does play ogg vorbis. It doesn't play ogg flac. It doesn't play any lossless codec (except for uncompressed wav), for the matter. And, for classical music lovers, that's an actual problem.

Re:O is for Opinion (2)

Zorilla (791636) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187379)

And, for classical music lovers, that's an actual problem.

I would guess that classical music doesn't really demand much in frequency range, but requires a very accurate stereo image. Wouldn't an independent stereo (avoid joint at all costs) 160+ kbps encoding in a decent encoder, such as LAME, be sufficient for listening to classical music on a portable?

Re:O is for Opinion (3, Informative)

damiam (409504) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187504)

You got it exactly backwards. Classical music needs a wide frequency range, but stereo is rarely an issue (many older classical recordings are even mono). I personally think 160+kbps MP3 is fine, but I can see how some people wouldn't.

Re:O is for Opinion (1)

Torne (78524) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187704)

Avoiding joint stereo makes quality worse, not better; unlike older encoders, LAME only uses mid/side for frames when it is a genuine benefit. If there is no correlation at all between left and right, LAME will not bother. This only works on LAME - other encoders follow the standard's mechanism for switching between mid/side and full stereo which is buggy ;)

Re:O is for Opinion (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187855)

"And, for classical music lovers, that's an actual problem."

I'm curious - is that a property of the music itself, or merely that (as in my experience) classical music is more likely to be listened to by the audiophile?

As someone who likes a bit of Steve Reich on the move (Music For 18 Musicians blows away 99% of the electronic stuff that passes for downtempo 'chill' music these days), I'm now concerned about my plan to switch from a CD Walkman to an iRiver.

Re:O is for Opinion (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 9 years ago | (#10188063)

I'm curious - is that a property of the music itself, or merely that (as in my experience) classical music is more likely to be listened to by the audiophile?


It's that old tech in the classical music instruments that presents a challenge. I mean we're talking about drawing a bunch of horsehairs perpendicularly across cat gut strings, and amplifying the result by resonating it on rather complex three dimensional surface composed of an organically grown, semi-irregular composite matrix of polysaccharides and proteins.

The result is hard to capture just right. That said, I don't think that most classical music afficiandos are all that obsessed with audio quality, but it is certainly possible for somebody who tends that way to fixate on little sonic nuances. I'd suspect that the challenge creates classical music fans from audiophiles, not the other way around.

Re:O is for Opinion (2, Informative)

NegativeK (547688) | more than 9 years ago | (#10188215)

I wouldn't say that the iRiver firmware is great, but it's not as bad as the original Jukebox. The iRiver, after all, already plays Vorbis.

I would personally like to see software that sped up the loading time on the player.


I personally love my H120 with the 1.40US firmware, but a lot of people are becoming quite pissed off about the whole thing. iRiver has repeatedly made promises on release dates, only to turn around and break those promises. Not only that, but when iRiver actually did release a new firmware, they didn't release the features they said they would. Everyone was quite hyped up when they saw 1.60 on the Korean iRiver website, only to find out that iRiver misinterpreted "gapless playback" (which, it turns out, would require a complete rewrite of their decoding software for the player,) and ignored other big items on the wishlist, such as OTF playlists, a kludgeless random shuffle, and a fix to a hard drive bug that can drain a sixteen hour battery in two hours.

iRiver has did a great job with the creation of the H1?0 series, but they're starting to alienate users with their empty promises.

Just got an iPod last week. Now I suck. (-1)

aardwolf204 (630780) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187009)


Of course this happens now that I dropped $300 on an iPod last week. I'm so uncool [slashdot.org] now. I'll leave my geek license at the door.

Re:Just got an iPod last week. Now I suck. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10187088)

Jesus asshole. We're not your friends or family, why do you bother posting this bullshit?

This is good news but perhaps not why you think (4, Interesting)

Lurks (526137) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187039)

I'm not sure what's up with iRiver and the broken promises of new firmware. iRiver apologists have been banging on about how this is all a bonus and one should live with the state of the player as shipped but ... iRiver certainly made a selling feature of the upgradable firmware.

On the other hand, there isn't a hard-drive player on the market which touches the iHP-100 range (sadly including iRiver's next product the H300-series) and I've pretty much tested them all in a professional capacity as a journalist. The existing firmware is, it must be said, damn good. The way it just works with your file structure if you prefer (and I do), the way navigation works, the way settings work, switching modes, voice recording etc - it's all just right.

So iRiver really do know what they're doing when it comes to software engineering. It's actually the iRiver software that makes it stand out from the crowd. However there's a few glaring problems - the biggest, for me, is the lack of a real shuffle mode. It's easy to end up with the 100-series playing the same sequence of tracks when in random mode. That sucks. Gapless is the next most important for me with the rest of the options such as on-the-fly playlist editing and and file deletion taking up the rear of my priority list by some margin. I can live without that, to be frank. (You can still be Ann)

But let's look at what's good here. With the existing software, you can configure what sorts of play modes you like including shuffle modes. Then when you press and hold the A-B button (on the unit itself or the fantastic remote control), it will cycle through just your preferred modes and not every one of them. Brilliant.

What iRiver needs more than anything else is just a rocket up them to fix the issues and deliver what they've promised. They're a fairly typical Korean company in that 99% of the noise out there from customers doesn't reach anyone making decisions but I think that will change now a slashdot story about a vaporware opensource alternative has appeared.

That's why it's good news. Of course if someone could pressure them into dumping the proprietary software and incorporating the same USB mass storage approach as the 100-series for the otherwise-brilliant iFP-700/800 flash players, that would be the icing on the cake. Then I could switch to something smaller and lighter for the British summer.

(Meanwhile most other manufacturer's of flash-based MP3 players tell you that you don't need USB 2.0. Sigh)

Re:This is good news but perhaps not why you think (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187077)

However there's a few glaring problems - the biggest, for me, is the lack of a real shuffle mode. It's easy to end up with the 100-series playing the same sequence of tracks when in random mode. That sucks. Gapless is the next most important for me with the rest of the options such as on-the-fly playlist editing and and file deletion taking up the rear of my priority list by some margin. I can live without that, to be frank.

I don't mind the lack of a real shuffle. It seems to re-randomise whenever I add or remove tracks, and I'm still in the process of filling the thing. Gaps in playback can be annoying - just ask Billy Shears :-) But I'd really quite like on-the-fly playlists: I want to be able to queue up some good tunes and then leave the box alone, if I'm using it as a music source at a party or something.

Re:This is good news but perhaps not why you think (1)

V7iktor (698111) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187325)

I think you can expect USB mass storage support for iFP-700/800 in the near future: those two players are already listed under supported devices for WMP10 synch functionality.

Funny though that the H series is not (and no they did not overlook it, reports are that it will not synch).

Re:This is good news but perhaps not why you think (5, Interesting)

ashridah (72567) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187341)

Some enterprising person found an entertaining workaround to the issue of broken shuffle.

He found that if you add a bunch of really short silent mp3's, the player will re'random'ize the shuffle if you delete one of them within the player with the latest firmware. just add about 10 of them, and delete them as you find the shuffle being repetitive.

Better than nothing for the time being. :)

Shuffle's not really something i use personally tho. OTF playlists would be nice, but about all i'm interested in eventually seeing is the gapless playback. currently the player has gap delete working (ie, removing silence from inside music files) but not a prebuffering system to start playing the next song immediately. it was never scheduled for the first of the two upcoming firmware releases anyway, tho.

ashridah

Re:This is good news but perhaps not why you think (1)

Eight 01 (614650) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187600)

I have to disagree with you about the quality of the firmware. The functions are needlessly difficult to access. Button use isn't consistant. I've had it for 6 months and I still forget when to tap the remote's nav wheel and when to press and hold it. I think you tap it to view directories, then press and hold it to back up. Pressing and holding it first shows the settings menu. Or something like that. My wife called from the car asking how to turn shuffle mode off. On an Archos or iPod, it would be as simple as pressing the menu button and choosing "shuffle off". I had to tell her to try pressing and holding or double tapping all the buttons until it went off.

The hardware is brilliant, but the firmware really has the feel of something that was hacked together with no advanced planning or thought.

Re:This is good news but perhaps not why you think (1)

gullevek (174152) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187608)

I miss only one thing on the iRiver: bookmarks.
If you have such a huge load of files it would be good to "mark" a position, play some other tracks, and later go back to that "mark". Especially when you upload new files. Sucks kinda that it always starts at 0.

Re:This is good news but perhaps not why you think (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 9 years ago | (#10188160)

Having just travelled with a Korean I can tell you that they can return ANYTHING.

That is the korean product success story. ANYTHING can be returned, bought in on the internet they'll pay to ship it back to them. Don't know if this only applies to Korean's but it seems to work.

I've seen my friend get so pissed because a product didn't do what it said it would, I was like chill out happens all the time. They have an amazing system.

You just need to know how to

USB on the go? (1)

iangoldby (552781) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187057)

Will Rockbox be able to give the H1xx series USB on-the-go [usb.org] like the H3xx series have, I wonder?

Does anyone know if you need special USB hardware to support USB host operations (not found in the H1xx series), or is it just in the driver?

Re:USB on the go? (1)

crwl (802043) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187219)

The way USB is designed, "USB on the go" requires hardware support and is not therefore doable with the H1xx hardware.

Re:USB on the go? (1)

fab13n (680873) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187389)

For that you'd need the hardware to be USB master, whereas H1xx only have USB slave hardware. OTOH, you can buy a USB bridge whose purpose is to connect to slaves together, e.g. there [delkin.com]

price(H1xx)+price(bridge)<price(H3xx), that's why I finally chose H1xx.

Horray! (1)

ChronoWiz (709439) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187111)

Horray, I've got one of their players. I'm not sure how much open sourcing the firmware could actually do, it is already compatible with linux and the drivers work pretty well, but I suppose some interesting uses apart from just playing music could be found for these players.

wishlist: (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10187120)

.sid and .mod playback! pls :-)

Re:wishlist: (1)

Zorilla (791636) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187385)

You laugh now, but I actually have a CD that has Second Reality Part 2 on it. (Although it was an S3M originally, I think.)

Re:wishlist: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10187934)

nothing wrong with old klassic sequenced music... it just feels terribly inefficient to convert a 20 kB mod into a 4 MB mp3!

Re:wishlist: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10187684)

Unfortunately, you need a much faster processor than what the iriver has :(

Note from Rockbox project manager (4, Informative)

Bjrn Stenberg (32494) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187209)

Hi all.

While we appreciate positive attention for our work, this story is a bit early. We have just begun to look at the iRiver iHP/H1 hardware and are quite a bit away from having anything of significance to show (such as running code).

I'll try to preemptively answer some common questions:

- No, we are not violating the DMCA or any other intellectual property laws. We are only distributing software written by ourselves and we run it on our own hardware. Our software does not circumvent any access control or copy control mechanisms.

- We are not doing this to "expand our market share" or any other weird corporate-style reason. We are doing it because our old Archos hardware is becoming obsolete and hard to find so we need to find new hardware to run our software on. The fact that the iRiver has a large user base is a bonus though, since it means more potential contributors.

- We are not looking at the iPod or Rio Karma since they contain a chip made by Portalplayer that you have to sign away your firstborn to see the docs for. That is a silly practice we do not wish to encourage. The iRiver contains hardware with published docs.

Feel free to drop in on irc [rockbox.haxx.se] if you have any questions.

/Björn

Re:Note from Rockbox project manager (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187436)

I'm sorry, I have to do this.

Thats all well and good, but does it run linux?

(Cowers now as the sound of a thousand geeks groaning in unison)

Wish you the best of luck with porting your software over. Its never easy to move to a new framework.
If you need an English beta tester, send me one of the devices over. :)

Re:Note from Rockbox project manager (2, Insightful)

Chaotic Evil Cleric (622653) | more than 9 years ago | (#10188199)

We are not looking at the iPod or Rio Karma since they contain a chip made by Portalplayer that you have to sign away your firstborn to see the docs for.

Apple does this regularly to discourage tinkering by open source people, like their choice to use Broadcom Wireless Cards over any of the other vendors who are well supported by open source and have open documentation. Look at the list of things unsupported on the PPC platform and realize this is not because of lack of effort on the part of the Linux guys, but because of lack of documentation and roadblocks set up by Apple themselves.

THIS KICKS ASS!! (1)

DMJC-L (800240) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187228)

I have an iriver ihp-140 (40gb) player.. this is awesome... I can't wait! an open source firmware means all those obscure sound formats can get supported! like .mods and flac! this is brilliant news.

Re:THIS KICKS ASS!! (1)

djtrialprice (602555) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187298)

I'd like someone else to prove me wrong but I'm fairly certain that firmware cannot decode file formats. That is done by the hardware.

Re:THIS KICKS ASS!! (3, Informative)

Billy69 (805214) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187368)

This was also mentioned by someone above, and it is completely wrong. The iRiver hardware uses a processor and firmware as opposed to a hardware decoder, unlike a lot of older MP3 players. Thats how they have retrospectively added Ogg Vorbis support to the iMP range of players. So in this case, yes you are wrong, and yes, firmware does decode the file formats.

Re:THIS KICKS ASS!! (1)

ashridah (72567) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187386)

yep, that's right.

The only thing that prevents some of the older models from gaining new codecs is processing power, time, and in a few cases, lack of free space in the flash ROM for the new codec.

I'll be interested to see what the rockboxx stuff comes up with.

ashridah

Re:THIS KICKS ASS!! (1)

tuxter (809927) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187387)

Completely flase and untrue. Thats like saying "It's not The GIMP that decodes the jpeg's, it's the processor. The software tells the hardware how to process the information.

Re:THIS KICKS ASS!! (1, Funny)

djtrialprice (602555) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187530)

Dammit! There's nothing like being shown to be completely wrong by several people in a slashdot thread. AAAARGH!

Re:THIS KICKS ASS!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10188415)

But, FLAC takes more processor power to decode, no? Isn't that one of the reasons it isn't already on some of those reverse engineered players? And, I hear APE is even more processor intensive. The HydrogenAudio folks point this out a great deal, but they also have pegged .FLAC as the lossless format which will most likely see portable (iPod, iRiver iAdnauseum) support in the near future, so maybe... it just might work.

Gmini? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10187267)

Who can help these guys with the Gmini firmware?
http://www.donat.org/archos

Next on the agenda, how will this be tweaked? (2, Interesting)

KitFox (712780) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187302)

With custom coded firmware being made for a device that looks like Just Another Hard Drive to your computer when plugged in, how long will it be before we end up with some odd - and possibly not-good - tweaks to the system?

Obviously, some tweaks could be useful, depending on what the firmware can do with the onboard hardware. I'd love to hear some ideas on those... How to make a media device into something more than a media device, from odd screen displays to any number of other things.

But then what about possible tweaks that could be harmful? Put an autorun file on the drive, have it search the computer it is connected to for something, copy it to the device, and then have the device hide the info in some way?

"Oh, no, sir, I was just hooking it up to the computer so I could listen to MP3's over the better speakers. More relaxing work environment makes for better productivity."

So, what might be able to be done?

Re:Next on the agenda, how will this be tweaked? (1)

tuxter (809927) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187395)

Any inovative solution, discovery or invention has it's uses for good or evil. Encryption, atomic power, anything. Not even worth thinking about really.

Re:Next on the agenda, how will this be tweaked? (1)

ashridah (72567) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187396)

The player doesn't get a whole lot of control over how the operating system sees the attached disk. Once the usb plug goes in, the player basically enables a usb-storage-on-a-chip component and turns on the hard drive, so far as I know.

The operating system sees the entire disk, so you'd have a hard time hiding stuff, unless you convinced the drive to violate the low level formatting to get outside the accessible area or something once the player had been unplugged.
i suppose you could mod the firmware to modify the drive and move the files to an unused portion of the disk or something, but that's hardly foolproof.

ashridah

Re:Next on the agenda, how will this be tweaked? (1)

KitFox (712780) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187988)

Sooo... what if we throw the information through a simple (weak) encryption method, then scatter it throughout ID3v2 tags in not-normally-used frames. Depending on the size of complete chunks of information, you may be able to fit relevant things in a single tag (U:P combos), or even have some songs with index tags for combining the information chunks.

With this method, it doesn't matter if the OS sees the entire disk, because it still just contains MP3's. That happen to have some weird stuff in the ID3v2 tags. Not foolproof, but it would definitely pass cursory inspection.

However, like I said, I am more interested in white-hat ideas for introducing new stuff. Like device to device stuff as mentioned a few comments down. :)

Re:Next on the agenda, how will this be tweaked? (1)

ashridah (72567) | more than 9 years ago | (#10188029)

Oh. you mean steganography?

meh. don't need anything special for that, just grab steghide or something that compresses it into a bunch of jpegs, and just keep jpegs of a bucks night on the device :)

ashridah

Re:Next on the agenda, how will this be tweaked? (1)

Zorilla (791636) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187404)

How about a mini web server running on the portable player? One that is similar to the adjustable options page on many household broadband routers, so you could adjust settings at greater ease than you would with a small black-and-white LCD screen.

Re:Next on the agenda, how will this be tweaked? (1)

KitFox (712780) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187938)

I'm not certain how that would work out. After all, the player shows up as a USB Disk device to computers. Does it have a way to gets its own IP Address and have a network stack?

About all I could think of maybe working similar is to throw the web server software on the drive and run it on the machine it is connected to.

Re:Next on the agenda, how will this be tweaked? (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187839)

Anyone who knows about USB tech, is this possible?

1: I connect my iHP-140 directly to another USB mass-storage device
2: With its hacked firmware, the iRiver is smart enough to read and write the other devices disk
3: Hmm, what might I do next, having linked my mp3 player to somebody else's, and having access to their files? Nope, can't think of anything...

iRipDB - Create the Iriver DB on linux... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10187317)

Just to let you know if you want the tag db (inc. ogg files) then head over to

http://www.marevalo.net/iRipDB/

for a nifty database creator.

Matthew

Thanks! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10188149)

Great link Matthew! Hopefully it'll get modded up.

Neuros Digital Computer (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10187344)

The Neuros Audio Computer Team [neurosaudio.com] is just doing the same thing for it's far superior player. But this time, the releasing of the firmware code was done after the manufacturers approval. Way to go!

Too bad the released code will only compile under Texas Instruments' Code Composer Studio, a USD. 3500 closed source IDE and compiler.

A GCC target [sourceforge.net] for the TI DSP the Neuros has in (C5416) is already on its way, though.

Great News (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10187373)

The team over at linux-isos [linux-isoz.info] has been advocating, supporting, and reporting such projects for some time.
It's great to see some of the bigger boys jumping on the open source firmware bandwagon, hopefully others will follow suit :)

Booting from an iriver iHP-140 (1)

ashridah (72567) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187407)

You know,

i'd be REALLY REALLY happy if someone found a way to make the iriver iHP-140 boot to say, dos or something.

I've tried a lot of things so far. HP's usb dongle boot formatter, booting with usb-enabled DOS floppies, short of actually installing winME to try that. Best that i can tell, not much likes formatting a bootable fat32 drive that's larger than 32G anymore :(

I even tried making a tiny 100MB partition at the end of the device, but haven't found anything that'll work long enough to format it and make it bootable #$@#$%!#. (the player didn't have any issues with this, mind you... )

If someone gets this working, and then devises a tool to easily make someone else's player bootable quickly and simply, I'd be eternally greatful.

This is what i get for throwing away the floppy drive, i guess :(

ashridah

Re:Booting from an iriver iHP-140 (2, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187466)

yopu could do something silly and waste a $0.13 CDR and make it bootable into dos without your files on it.

but nahhh...

I do exactly that every single time.

there are plenty of DOS bootable ISO's or .bin files floating around for nero to make a bootable DOS CDROM. hell strip the bootable out of a win98 or winme install CD.

why people dink for day's trying to get a bootable DOS thumbdrive in something that is too big (spend $12.00 and buy a 16 meg thumb drive.) it blows my mind.

Re:Booting from an iriver iHP-140 (1)

ashridah (72567) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187975)

Because it's convenient for me to use a device I already have, and I like challenges. As for CDR's, you can't easily EDIT the dos files to test it as a startup floppy for a particular game that refuses to run under windows :)

Besides, things like Symantec Ghost would be handy in a setup where I had a large amount of usb storage handy, although i could do that easily with a bootable floppy.

it's the principle that counts however.
I *should* be able to do it, hence I want to. I don't want to waste more money on a usb flash drive, which, ultimately, will probably die after being written to a certain number of times.

ashridah

Re:Booting from an iriver iHP-140 (1)

BumpyCarrot (775949) | more than 9 years ago | (#10188681)

The thing with formatting fat32 drives up to 32GB is a Windows problem. Fix your operating system ;) IIRC only XP has this problem, but 2K might as well.

I like this gadget: features missing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10187454)

Hi,

I like this tool as it can record mp3 files directly and the input channel can be configured to manually adjust the recording volume of an external microphone. But one really important thing is missing: a recording level meter

On the other hand I'm really satisfied with iRiver's developers who really listen to their customers and implement new features into their firmware. Maybe they should change development into some sort of open source model to incorportate the 'community' into the firmware development of the iRiver devices

Not Such A Good Idea (1)

Agret (752467) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187662)

I'm skeptical about this. By developing Open Source Firmware to remove bugs from the player we are sending a messenger to proprietary firmware developers that they can just release a buggy firmware and the open source community will solve all their problems. If the guys making this firmware are in contact with the original developers then it may be alright though.

Re:Not Such A Good Idea (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187879)

By developing Open Source Firmware to remove bugs from the player we are sending a messenger to proprietary firmware developers that they can just release a buggy firmware and the open source community will solve all their problems.

I highly doubt that. We have to keep in mind that the Slashdot crowd is not your average Joe. The masses on the streets are the ones who need well working hardware more than we do and the hardware producers know this. They're not going to let quality slide because 0.2% of their customer base plans on modding the unit anyway.

Will it ever happen for the iPod? (1)

jmcmunn (307798) | more than 9 years ago | (#10187824)


Does anyone think this kind of thing will happen for the iPod? I love the interface from what I have seen, but isn't it always better to have a choice? I am just curious if anyone will bother. Considering it is the overwhelming leader in mp3 players at the moment, you would have to think some development is under way.

Re:Will it ever happen for the iPod? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10188250)

Do you have any stats showing iPods are #1 in the market? I've heard it here on Slashdot a million times, but in real life, I've only ever seen ONE person with an iPod (it was an obese obese man who was also a Mac Zealot extreme). Every other MP3 player I've ever seen is a different brand, or more likely, a CD player....

Re:Will it ever happen for the iPod? (1)

jmcmunn (307798) | more than 9 years ago | (#10188426)

Well, I can't provide you with a link to the stats or anything, but I can say that I have seen a ton of people roaming around college campuses (Michigan State and UofM) with them.

I have to say though, that nearly every review I have ever read about an new Mp3 player mentions the iPod as 'the competition'.

I'm not saying that there aren't more Rio flash based players out there, or more Sony minidisk players out there, but as far as hard drive based players go, iPod is currently the king and everyone seems to be trying to take their market share.

If it weren't for the iPod, Apple would still be in a world of hurt. They brought themselves back into the game with the iPod, they took their great innovation and applied it to a market that was ready for a change.

iRiver *HAS* updated their firmware (1)

theLOUDroom (556455) | more than 9 years ago | (#10188119)

In the wake of iRiver's much-maligned (and delayed) attempts to update their proprietary firmware, this is excellent news.

I bought my iHP-120 about a year ago. It came with new newest firmware availible at the time.

My only gripes were:
  • inability to erase files
  • inability to record from the radio


The first item has been fixed via a new firmware release that I installed last week.
That's it. I think it's a GREAT mp3 player.
It has all sorts of EQ, sounds effects, does playlists, looping, records to mp3 or wav from 3 different sources, etc etc.

To me, there's only one thing missing.

Of course I welcome the idea of an open firmware, because one could create all kind of cool toys with it, a portable audio generator (sinewave, whitenoise, digital zero), for example.

Anyways, I guess my point is that the firmware ISN'T crappy. I think iriver has produced a very nice device.

Desperately needed for the iRiver flash series (1)

DeckerEgo (520694) | more than 9 years ago | (#10188502)

I have an iFP-595... which is a nice piece of hardware (aside from the lil' joystick control toggle which doesn't respond well).

Linux support is arguable at best if you want OGG support as well - their is an OSS app for transferring tracks using iRiver's native protocol which is a workable solution, but it's not as easy as dragging and dropping folders over.

There is a USB mass storage firmware option with OGG support, but 2.6 kernels have problems recognizing the UMS device. Evidentally there's a problem with attaching/detaching the block device using the UMS protocols in firmware. There are also problems in Windows - the UMS driver wigs out if you get too many I/O requests going at once.

Not to mention OGG playback is limited to >96 or 360 kbs. This usually isn't a huge problem if you record within the normal quality range (i.e. 4-6), but higher encodings clip out.

There are also bugs - I've actually had to reboot a few times due to lockups. Latest firmware seems to be more stable however.

So there's definitely room for improvement on the iFP series - I would welcome independent work on firmware aside from the iHP.
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