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Rio Karma User Review

timothy posted about 10 years ago | from the cute-and-musical dept.

Portables 393

FuzzyBad-Mofo writes "On 8/24/2004, I took the plunge and bought a Rio Karma digital music player. My needs were simple: Decent storage capacity, Linux friendly, and Ogg Vorbis compatible. The Karma has a generous 20 GB capacity, decent battery life, is OS-agnostic, and plays a wide variety of file formats, including Ogg." Read on for the rest of FuzzyBad-Mofo's review.

Despite living in an urban area, I had a little trouble tracking down a retailer with the Karma in stock. Best Buy was sold out, but Circuit City had them (for full price, boo hiss). I was impressed with the solid feel of the device, and promptly started setting it up. Since I currently only have Linux machines at home, the included software was useless. Fortunately, the Karma also includes Ethernet connectivity through the docking cradle. In minutes the cradle was connected to my Linksys router and a static IP assigned using the Karma's joystick interface (not fun).

Once this was done, I connected via web browser to the Karma's IP address and was greeted with a nice splash page, and a couple of links to download the Java-based transfer software and to visit Rio's Karma page. I initially had trouble with the transfer software, but eventually found the developer's site on the internet; he has improved the software greatly from the version that ships with the Karma.

The docking cradle also has stereo line-level RCA ports, which is nice for integration with a home stereo. I ended up buying a 20' CAT-5 cable to give my Karma a permanent home next to the stereo. It's pretty wonderful to select 4 hours of random music for the evening, and not have to worry about changing CDs. Later, I also bought an RF adapter for use in the car, which works by broadcasting on an FM frequency you simply tune into.

The Karma is not bad to walk around with either. It is a little bulky, and I would prefer a narrower body, but it fits ok in a loose-fitting pants or jacket pocket. As with any hard-drive based player, jogging/running/biking with it is probably not a good idea.

Lockups: the Karma has taken a lot of flak for locking up, and I can't say that it's not justified. The player has locked once when I was loading music on it, in which case I simply reset with a bent paper clip and it was good to go. However, several days ago I was walking with it, attempted to change songs midstride, and it locked hard. Since I was on my way to work with no paperclip in sight (and the unit won't turn off when it locks up), the hard drive spun and seeked for 40 minutes until I got in the office. At that point, the unit was warm to the touch and had drained half the battery. After reset, the unit would not power up properly. Going into rescue mode showed that it was having trouble reading the disk. (crap!) After reading some message boards where others have experienced similar problems, I decided that I had little to lose and smacked it flat down on the desk. The Karma made a little grinding noise and booted up! It has worked perfectly since then, but I'm somewhat concerned about my purchase. Rio only offers a three-month warranty by default, so I would recommend going with an extended warranty if you decide to purchase a Karma.

Scary lockups aside, this has been a great little player. I believe it is Rio's first HDD-based player, and I'm looking forward to seeing future revisions of the Karma.

Thanks to FuzzyBad-MoFo for the review!

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Does not inspire confidence (5, Insightful)

erick99 (743982) | about 10 years ago | (#10504194)

After reading the review I don't know that I want one of these. The reviewer discusses the negatives: size, lockups, ect. but does not really go into the upside of owning one of these.

Re:Does not inspire confidence (5, Funny)

ratsnapple tea (686697) | about 10 years ago | (#10504201)

But it plays OGG, man! OGG!

Re:Does not inspire confidence (3, Interesting)

TachyonAT (739931) | about 10 years ago | (#10504307)

so do most of iRivers players

Re:Does not inspire confidence (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10504378)

I was thinking more like "it's not an iPod and the reviewer makes it seem as if yet another competitor sucks."

I can't imagine why I would think that the Slashdot editors would have an interest in posting anti-iPod competitor stories to the front page though.


Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10504482)

ATTENTION DEMOCRATS! No matter where you live, you can register to vote absentee in Wood County, Ohio [] ! The Board of Elections doesn't ask for proof of residency. REGISTER NOW and VOTE KERRY!

iPod is still better (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10504546)

That may be, but OGG doesn't get you hot naked chicks [] like the iPod does. :) (nsfw)

Re:Does not inspire confidence (2, Funny)

Sensible Clod (771142) | about 10 years ago | (#10504289)

Negative karma, eh?

Re:Does not inspire confidence (5, Insightful)

lukewarmfusion (726141) | about 10 years ago | (#10504298)

I agree. If you want it to work as a stereo appliance mp3 server, that's one thing. But I wouldn't expect to take that with me as a portable. One or the other, maybe.

Portable player? Go with either a low-storage and inexpensive Creative USB player or a high-storage and expensive iPod. Anything in between fails to impress me.

MP3 server for your home stereo? Slap an 80GB drive into an old box with your favorite flavor of OS and remote connect. It's not that hard; my non-geek brother did this for his house (he's a college senior) and it's impressed the hell out of their party guests.

Re:Does not inspire confidence (4, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | about 10 years ago | (#10504451)

MP3 server for your home stereo? Slap an 80GB drive into an old box with your favorite flavor of OS and remote connect. It's not that hard; my non-geek brother did this for his house (he's a college senior) and it's impressed the hell out of their party guests.

Or use an old laptop and a wireless card. Share the MP3s out from the network. That's what we did. I don't ever think that our party guests were "impressed" though. It was just part of being in college and having a friend that was a computer dork.

Portable player? Go with either a low-storage and inexpensive Creative USB player or a high-storage and expensive iPod. Anything in between fails to impress me.

Inexpensive/low storage = CD MP3 player. Cheap ($45 or less), portable, and no worries about a hard drive getting owned. It usually has more storage space than flash-based players and it's a lot easier to add more songs when the storage runs out.

Re:Does not inspire confidence (1)

lukewarmfusion (726141) | about 10 years ago | (#10504492)

Good call on the CD MP3 player.

As for impressing party guests, most of them have seen the trouble you get when you have a bunch of strangers and a lot of easy to lift equipment. No CDs lying around, no laptop to grab. What's impressive is when he's standing behind the bar and whips out the laptop (which he physically secures under the bar) to change the music. People just love that.

Re:Does not inspire confidence (5, Informative)

ProfaneBaby (821276) | about 10 years ago | (#10504404)

I own one of these little devices, and I'm very unhappy with the harddrive performance. Not only does it suck battery life while playing, the drive performance seems to suffer after a while - I can't tell if it's fragmentation from being nearly full, or running while the battery slowly drains is causing hardware failures. The sound, though, remains decent. The multiple formats are nice. The software is actually quite good. It's not the type of player where you throw it out after you buy it because it's garbage, but you may want to think carefully before purchasing it.

Re:Does not inspire confidence (1)

object88 (568048) | about 10 years ago | (#10504412)

Completely agreed. After reading this review, no way would I purchase a Rio Karma. My Archos Recorder 20 locks up on rare occasion, but at least you can power it off without a paperclip! Lock-ups after almost 2 months? No way.

Not much confidence, but still a good player. (5, Informative)

LiberalApplication (570878) | about 10 years ago | (#10504432)

Regarding the lockups, this is a pretty well known issue, and my Karma itself has locked up a few times, but the whack-and-smack solution is just as well known and is surprisingly effective. It's mentioned here: 4109 []

Basically, you have to whack the unit hard enough that it turns itself off and restarts. Sure, it's unsettling and even embarassing if you have to sit there in a rush-hour subway train spanking a lump of plastic for ten minutes, but it works. And the strangest part of it all: each time you spank it into submission, it will be a significantly longer period of time before it crashes again. After the fourth and last spanking session, it hasn't locked up once in the past five months.

As for the upside, it has several nice features. The author of the review failed to mention one of the highlights of the Karma-dock's ethernet jack - that it can be used to communicate with any computer that can run Java apps. This turns out to be great, because while the management software can only be installed on windows machines, the Java applet that the Karma serves up via HTTP can be run on Linux and OSX machines. When I get into the office (which is a primarily Mac environment), I just drop it into its cradle, have it DHCP-obtain an IP address (an automatic procedure), fire up the applet from my Power Mac, and I'm free to manage it.

On the usability side, I've been extremely pleased with the Karma. I never quite understood why all of the manufacturers have banded behind Apple's design of placing the display above the main control cluster. It results in the center of gravity being above your hand, making the device much more likely to slip or be knocked out of your grasp. On the Karma, the controls are placed above the display, so that your thumb wraps around the Karma's upper edge and the entirety of its mass is cradled in the palm of your hand. It might look counterintuitive, but I think that's largely because all of the other players out there have the scheme reversed.

The firmware is nice, with three user-adjustable 3-band EQ settings slots that you can flip through to best suit the genre of music you're listening to at the time. The main "menu" button on its face can be customized to drop you at one of several menu levels. For example, if you tend to select music by genre, the main menu button can be set to take you right there instead of to the root level menu. The GUI is consistently themed throughout, and while not as minimal as the iPod's, is not aesthetically offensive. One feature I found very cute was the ability to set the play screen (which you'll be looking at 90% of the time) to be dominated by a pair of mostly useless but amusingly retro-styled VU meters. Unlike the iPod, the Karma *IS* capable of gapless playback, which is great if you listen to a lot of mixed compilations or live performances.

I have only two gripes personally with the unit:
1) The setting for "shuffle"/"normal" playback is buried several levels deep in the menu system.
2) The unit has a 4pin jack next to its headphone jack which is obviously intended for an in-line remote control, but no such item exists. Pooh.

HTH in your buying decisions.

Re:Does not inspire confidence (5, Interesting)

radish (98371) | about 10 years ago | (#10504437)

The plus sides:

* Battery life (16 hours with mp3, 12 with Vorbis)
* Gapless playback. This is HUGE for a lot of people. The Karma is the ONLY HD based player which does gapless playback properly. It's the main reason I have one (and would never buy an iPod).
* Sound quality. Measurably better than iPod, also has fully adjustable 5 band parametric EQ.
* RioDJ. This feature allows you to choose specific types of tracks (e.g. stuff I haven't played recently) and a duration, and it will build a playlist on the fly.
* Firmware. Very flexible operation, tons of options (geek friendly!), excellent support from devs on the boards.
* Ethernet on the dock. Allows use with any platform which supports ethernet & java. So Windows, Linux, OSX, BSD etc.
* Formats. Vorbis, FLAC, mp3, wma etc.

There's more, but that's what stands out to me. I bought this thing nearly a year ago (as an aside - why a review now for a player which is pretty much at EOL?) and it's served me very well with no problems at all. The sound quality is great, the interface is easy to use and the gapless playback means I can finally listen to mix & live albums without the fsking pauses.

Re:Does not inspire confidence (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10504520)

Exactly. Further, what are you going to hear from a lot of the people who complained about the iPod's battery being hard to replace? This:

"The hard drive doesn't lock up that often and, anyway, banging it against your desk to get it to work is just fine. Hasn't broken mine yet. See! And... and it plays ogg!"

Uh, yeah. Can you imagine advocating Linux if it were this crippled? "Every so often, eh-heh-heh, /proc disappears. But that's OK - all you need to do is `cat /dev/urandom > /proc' and it magically works again! Weird."

so (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10504197)


From the next-article-please dept. (5, Insightful)

jargoone (166102) | about 10 years ago | (#10504203)

This is a terrible "review"! You paid full price (your own fault), and it was a pain to enter the IP address. Yeah, it has a dock. You had problems with the OS, but didn't mention any firmware upgrades that might help solve the problem. You did something stupid that could have broken it. Great.

What about the sound quality? Battery life? User interface? Build quality? Most importantly, given the audience: why would someone purchase this over an iPod? Those are the things we care about, not your anecdotal experience. This would be fine posted on a review site where more information is readily available, but it's certainly not destined for /.'s front page.

P.S.: First on-topic post?

Re:From the next-article-please dept. (4, Insightful)

erick99 (743982) | about 10 years ago | (#10504250)

I am surprised that he did not return it after having all of those problems and try something else. I can't imagine keeping something that locks up and continues to eat the batteries until you either jam a paper clip into it or slam it on a desk. I am amazed that someone would go through all of that and still want it!

Re:From the next-article-please dept. (4, Interesting)

aceh0 (646013) | about 10 years ago | (#10504285)

the red nipple is not bad for navigation but it is no iPod scroll wheel and it is not as intuitive. most of my friends who've used my ipod figured out how to use the thing within seconds (even the non-techy ones) while questions were always inadvertently asked about the karma. build quality / fragility is also something to be aware of. my ipod has survived a motorcycle crash and multiple trips down to the pavement from about waist height but the LCD on my friend's karma broke while it was in his pocket. he didnt fall, the pocket wasnt especially tight, nothing hit him. guess there was a bit of pressure on the screen and now it's hosed. he seemed to like it a lot while it was working though

Re:From the next-article-please dept. (1)

Baumann (238242) | about 10 years ago | (#10504353)

Hmm Granted: No mention of sound quality.
Battery life: Already stated at 15 hours on manufacturs site.
Build quality: "Felt solid".
Points out that the java install software did have an upgrade .. (btw, indirectly pointing out that it's third-party bundleware)
Indirectly points out RF adaptor is avaliable
RCA jacks make it usable for home..
and it apparently does seem to have some definite problems (which is why I would shy away from it for now)
Though it does play OGG - a plus.

Not the greatest review, true - but the guy's not a professional writer - at least you know more than you did, no? If you want to rip someone, rip the editors, not the reviewer

Re:From the next-article-please dept. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10504532)

- No link for the third-party software
- Implicitly trusting manufacturer specs isn't exactly the best way to go

Battery life and sound quality is a fairly important point to miss while reviewing a portable audio device wouldnt you say ?

Re:From the next-article-please dept. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10504424)

What do you expect from a guy that bought a 20' CAT-5 cable?

Re:From the next-article-please dept. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10504438)

It's a great review! Switching songs can make it freeze hard, with the only "remedy" being to thwack it against your desk?! With enough people having this problem to make it common knowledge on the forums! (And don't tell me that I should always carry a paperclip. That's just silly.)

After reading that, I'm not going to touch one of these things with a 10 foot pole (or even an 11' pole), and I'm a little bit curious as to what would motivate anyone to do so...

"Oh yeah, that's my new

Re:From the next-article-please dept. (2, Informative)

radish (98371) | about 10 years ago | (#10504477)

Yes, a terrible review. This is my list of "why I bought it over an iPod", from a previous post of mine. Note, I bought my Karma nearly a year ago (it's an old product) and if/when it dies I'll buy another - it works great for me.

The plus sides:

* Battery life (16 hours with mp3, 12 with Vorbis)

* Gapless playback. This is HUGE for a lot of people. The Karma is the ONLY HD based player which does gapless playback properly. It's the main reason I have one (and would never buy an iPod).

* Sound quality. Measurably better than iPod, also has fully adjustable 5 band parametric EQ.

* RioDJ. This feature allows you to choose specific types of tracks (e.g. stuff I haven't played recently) and a duration, and it will build a playlist on the fly.

* Firmware. Very flexible operation, tons of options (geek friendly!), excellent support from devs on the boards.

* Ethernet on the dock. Allows use with any platform which supports ethernet & java. So Windows, Linux, OSX, BSD etc.

* Formats. Vorbis, FLAC, mp3, wma etc.

To answer your specific points:

Sound Quality - Excellent
Battery Life - Excellent
User Interface - Very flexible. Some would say overly complex, I like it.
Build Quality - Reasonable. It's a plastic & rubber shell, the front screen scratches easily. There have been anecdotal reports of some parts being rather fragile (the scroll wheel for example) but I've not had any problems and I don't exactly baby it.

Re:From the next-article-please dept. (1)

VooDoo999 (619582) | about 10 years ago | (#10504533)

What do you mean by 'Gapless playback'? Are you talking about no silence b/n tracks when playing? And is there a reason why this is a big problem? Not trying to flame or anything, but this is the first I've heard of it. Just curious. Thanks.

Re:From the next-article-please dept. (2, Informative)

rpdillon (715137) | about 10 years ago | (#10504518)

Well, he comes right out and EXPLAINS why you'd buy this over an iPod - he only runs Linux. Last I checked, iPods weren't doing much of anything under Linux. Besides, iPods don't play Ogg, this does.

His fault for buying full price...I got mine for $199. He mentions it "felt solid", and, well, it does.

Don't know how you can complain about size: its no new-gen iPod, but it's comparable to the first generation size, and people didn't complain much about that. I carry it all over. Hell, its 1/4 the size of a portable CD player, and people carry those too. I'm holding mine now, and I just measured it: 2 3/4in x 2 3/4in x 7/8in - OK I don't care who you are, that simply isn't "bulky". It's no iPod-mini, but iPod-mini is more expensive and holds 1/5 the songs this does, and doesn't work under Linux.

I've had mine for 6 months and I've never had a lock up problem. I upgraded the firmware when I bought mine though, and he didn't mention that he did. I've spent a lot of time with mine too - transferred over 15gigs of stuff to it and its never showed signs of locking.

Agree the review could have been more thorough, though.

OS-agnostic? (5, Funny)

karmaflux (148909) | about 10 years ago | (#10504209)

The belief that, at our present level of knowledge, we cannot know whether or not an OS exists. Fair enough.

Here they come! (0, Troll)

QuijiboIsAWord (715586) | about 10 years ago | (#10504216)

Que the witty recursive OGG jokes such as.. "Yeah, but does it does..." I swear, I'm gonna smack the first person who posts one.

SMACK ME NOW (0, Troll)

sulli (195030) | about 10 years ago | (#10504249)

Does it play ogg?

ooh, smack HARDER!

All that for only $299? (0, Flamebait)

FreakyGeeky (23009) | about 10 years ago | (#10504218)

It's the same price as the 20GB iPod, it's known for its frequent lockups, and comes with a stingy three-month warranty? What a deal!

Re:All that for only $299? (4, Insightful)

winkydink (650484) | about 10 years ago | (#10504242)

Except of course, the iPod didn't meet his needs. It's right there in the first paragraph. Or did I miss something an Apple now has Linux support and support Ogg Vorbis?

Re:All that for only $299? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10504400)

I give you wine [] .

Re:All that for only $299? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10504278)

Funny, an Apple zealot always claims price is not the point when buying an Apple computer. Suddenly, Apple makes a product that competes on price and now the same zealots are bragging about it. Strange how the tale swings in Apples favor every time..

Re:All that for only $299? (1)

Kenja (541830) | about 10 years ago | (#10504316)

Got mine for 210$. It supports gapless playback and has support for OGG and FLAC somthing that no hard disk MP3 player should be without. The sound quality is MUCH better then the iPod as well (I've used both side by side prior to picking the Rio). The only real bitch I have is the 90 day warranty and the lack of cases for the thing. But even with the 75$ Vaja leather case it cost less then the retail cost of an iPod.

Re:All that for only $299? (2, Insightful)

AGTiny (104967) | about 10 years ago | (#10504349)

An iRiver iHP-120 (20GB) is also about $299 and works fine in Linux and plays Ogg files. It also has optical in/out instead of RCA for integration with a home receiver. The only thing missing is FLAC support. It fits much better in the pocket and is much more reliable. I've had one for maybe 5 or 6 months now with no lockups or hard drive problems. I use it in my car every day.

Re:All that for only $299? (2, Insightful)

skiflyer (716312) | about 10 years ago | (#10504441)

I've got the 40 Gig version, which you can now pick up for between 350-400 dollars.

Solid as solid can be. I threw it through a plaster wall (don't ask) and after removing it from the hole in the wall, it still plays perfectly, without a scratch on it. I think I'm on about month #8 without a single problem.

I have exactly one complaint about the device... no on the fly playlists. Rumored to be coming in an updated firmware update, but who knows.

The lack of FLAC in a portable device is no big deal in my opinion... I consider FLAC more of an archiving tool than something I need for my portable player.

Oh I guess I have a second minor complaint... the case it ships with is kinda bulky, but then again... it does ship with a case and a microphone, and a remote.

Oh, and you'd be remiss in mentioning the iHP's without noting they have 15 hour battery life... with replaceable batteries (requires a case opening)... and some of the aftermarket options are supposedly getting 20-24 hour battery life.

Alt review (5, Funny)

sulli (195030) | about 10 years ago | (#10504222)

Karma: Terrible (mostly the sum of user experiences)

Plus it looks like a stop watch (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | about 10 years ago | (#10504365)

It's damn ugly and resembles a £10 stopwatch.

I'm more than happy with my Cowon M3, it's just a shame they're bringing out the M5 next month, I want one!

The only reason the iPod sells is it's the least fussy option, many of the other devices are just too rough around the edges or too quirky and ecentric. Come on, has nobody ever heard of interface design or egonomics?

ipod (2, Interesting)

millahtime (710421) | about 10 years ago | (#10504230)

I think I'll stick with my ipod. Easy to setup and use. Gives me all the features I need (sure there are others i want). It is reliable. These articles keep me hapopy with the choice I made.

Re:ipod (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10504466)

I think I'll stick with my ipod. Easy to setup and use. Gives me all the features I need (sure there are others i want). It is reliable. These articles keep me hapopy with the choice I made.

No Ogg Support (0)

wpmegee (325603) | about 10 years ago | (#10504490)

For many /.'ers, this is a deal-breaker. Not for me since maybe 5% of my music collection is ogg, the rest are all 192kbps mp3s or vbr. From the webpage:, it only plays mp3s and AAC.

Slashvertisment... (0, Redundant)

Rigor Morty (149783) | about 10 years ago | (#10504231)

Move along. Nothing to see here.

Compared to others? (2, Insightful)

drdanny_orig (585847) | about 10 years ago | (#10504240)

I'd like a linux-oriented product comparison article. iRiver vs iPod vs Rio Karma etc. And yes, audio fidelity, perhaps the most important feature, shouldn't be ignored.

Music Files (0, Troll)

SlamMan (221834) | about 10 years ago | (#10504244)

But does it play my protected AAC files?

Re:Music Files (1)

spacerodent (790183) | about 10 years ago | (#10504281)

probally not. I had lots of problems on my rio forge and nitrus playing protected files. Somtimes it would work somtimes it wouldn't. About all the tech assistance Rio would provide was "make sure you clock is accurate" :p

FYI rio has really bad quality control (5, Informative)

spacerodent (790183) | about 10 years ago | (#10504245)

I bought a RIO nitrus and had it's hard drive fail within 2 weeks of purchase. I had it replaced 3 times over the next few months and none of the models lasted more than a month when all they did was ride in my back pack as I walked to class. Recently I bought one of the new Rio Forges and it also has problems. Despite being sold as a "sport" model it shuts down regularly during use and Rio refuses to admit any problem with the design despite several pages of experiences just like mine on their forums. I strongly discourage anyone from buying Rio products without an extended warrenty. Here is a good forums to read about Rio products:

Re:FYI rio has really bad quality control (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10504274)

So you kept buying them?

Rio Karma (5, Informative)

lintocs (723324) | about 10 years ago | (#10504254)

These things are crap... Everyone I know who bought one has returned it at least once because of the 1" HD "hard locking". One friend has been through 5 units so far, with the average lifespan being 7-10 days per unit.

I haven't heard similar things about the iPod (anyone?), but I suspect it's the 1" HDs that are to blame, rather than the design of the unit housing them.

Re:Rio Karma (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10504416)

Your friend must be an idiot to break something that often. Does he juggle with the thing?

Rio Good Karma (5, Informative)

saundo (312306) | about 10 years ago | (#10504259)

I own one of these beasts too.

The number one thing that I love about this device is the Rio DJ - Entertain me! function. What it does is looks at the most played tracks in a certain time period (15 minutes to everything on the Karma) and then plays a random mix of them. Awesome!

The second best thing is the crossfade feature under the Equalizer function. It basically makes a nice seamless mix of music that fades in and out of each track.

Battery life is great! I regularly get 10hrs of music out of it.

The only downsides I've discovered are that the little stick selector is flimsy, and the ethernet port is very flaky when it comes to working with switches. Neither my D-Link or Netgear 10/100 switches work with it, so I have resorted to loading the Windows software to load music.

Mine locked up just this past weekend. (1)

Aging_Newbie (16932) | about 10 years ago | (#10504268)

I was going to try the paper clip (no, I didn't have one in the woods where I was goofing off) but now I know the next step (the slam) in case the first option doesn't work. It is most certainly scary.

Banged it on the desk?!? (5, Insightful)

mreed911 (794582) | about 10 years ago | (#10504272)

Going into rescue mode showed that it was having trouble reading the disk. (crap!) After reading some message boards where others have experienced similar problems, I decided that I had little to lose and smacked it flat down on the desk. The Karma made a little grinding noise and booted up!

This is probably the most telling sentence in the review. The firmware for this device is not capable of even a REBOOT when there's a hard drive error. NO recovery, NONE. The *only* recourse was a "smack it flat down on the desk," indicating that the firmware had quite obviously tried to get the hard drive to perform some physically impossible task... and banging the HD juggled the heads enough to produce either a good error or knock the firmware out of its loop and find the data it needs.

Firmware issues... yuck. Wonder if I can convince my web guys to drop their 1U server boxes on the floor when they're being slow to help jiggle those hard drives into compliance???

Re:Banged it on the desk?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10504469)

Positive marketing spin:
It survives being smacked flat down on the desk! See, this is why we only offer a 3 month warranty. These suckers are built to last!

Possible celebrity endorsement tie in:
You can shake it, sh-sh-sh-shake it, shake it like a Polaroid pic-tcha.

Obligatory Microsoft Tie-in:
Your Windows machine crashes all the time and you don't seem to be leaving for a different OS -- we have twice the uptime of NT!!!

Purchase now and we'll include some select songs like Rio, Sledgehammer, Promises Broken, Break Stuff, and of course Hey Ya! Now gimme some sugar and buy this product.

Re:Banged it on the desk?!? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 10 years ago | (#10504509)

Reports are that the disk is flakey, not the firmware. Or maybe the disk's own firmware, but not the karma's. Same difference.

Applying a little percussive maintenance is always a last resort, but when there is a good chance your disk has already failed it probably won't hurt to slap it around a little.

Not a firmware problem (4, Informative)

sydb (176695) | about 10 years ago | (#10504525)

No, from my understanding (I own a Karma, and I spent about three months reading pretty much every post on the Karma forums) the problem is with the hard disk; sometimes (rarely, it's never happened to me) surface tension can prevent the disk spinning up after a spin down.

Banging the Karma releases the surface tension. Rio deny this (they say they can't reproduce the problem) but if it's not a problem with the hard disk then I'd like to hear the alternatives (I don't buy your ideas that it "produces a good error" or "knocks the firmware out of it's loop", sorry!)

The Karma is by no means perfect but:

* The sound is great
* No DRM
* Nice DJ features
* Nice interface
* Ethernet
* Great battery life
* It's not a poncy, proprietary and expensive iPod.

If they could fix the stability issues, and add:

* USB Mass Storage support (for USB2 Linux connectivity)
* Remote control over Ethernet (sit comfy and control what songs play from my laptop or PDA)
* A record function


* Make it smaller
* Make it cheaper
* Fit an even bigger hard disk

it would be perfect.

Is that a better review than the story? Mod me up.

missing pieces (1)

Andreas Schaefer (513034) | about 10 years ago | (#10504280)

link to the software page? can i use the karma as a generic external hard drive for other files?
and most of all: what is the battery life like?

Re:missing pieces (1)

TheCubic (151533) | about 10 years ago | (#10504385)

The software: t/rio/produ ct.asp?prodID=113

Yes, you can use it for other files - you have to use rio taxi (included on the device's webserver). I'm not sure if you can use it that way with USB, but they're promising it or something like it (USB mass storage standard) for the next firmware release.

The battery life is good - I can have the Karma on during the entire work day (8h+) - and I use OGG and the equalizer pretty heavily (MP3s and no equalizer -> more battery life).

The hard drive inside is a standard laptop ATA - I connected it to a computer and imaged it for backup - should the drive ever fail (hasn't happened yet after 6 months and maybe 5 drops).

Why is 20 gigabytes generous? (2, Interesting)

reporter (666905) | about 10 years ago | (#10504283)

Why is 20 gigabytes generous? You can buy an iPod [] with 20 gigabytes for $299.

Hewlett-Packard (HP) is second-sourcing the iPod. So, if you buy an iPod, you get the combined support of 2 American companies: HP and Apple.

My review of the Karma. (4, Informative)

Kenja (541830) | about 10 years ago | (#10504284)

I also got a Rio Karma within the last month. I had been looking at these things for about a year but was waiting for someone to make a case for the sang things prior to buying one. Now Vaja leather has a 75$ case (nice looking) so I took the plunge. Right when I got the thing I updated the firmware, say what you will about Rio at least they keep the updates comming. The sound quality is great and the software is very nice. It supports MP3, OGG, WMA and FLAC formats (the Windows software includes rippers for all formats) somthing that no digital audio player sporting more then a gig should be without (FLAC format with 20GB storage is great). Battery life for me is around 12hours, but I've not yet fully conditioned the battery (you need to fully charge and discharge it five times says the manual). The dock is interesting, but without a way to controll playback via the net I dont see the point since USB 2.0 is faster then 100base-t for transfering songs. Have I said that the audio quality is stunning? Well it is, the five bad EQ qorks great and with +-95db range music sounds very good for a portable system (the packed ear buds suck). This feels like the audiophiles MP3 player.

Re:My review of the Karma. (1)

jared_hanson (514797) | about 10 years ago | (#10504473)

say what you will about Rio at least they keep the updates comming.

You make this seem like it's a good thing. Updates that come too frequently usually signal that something was wrong to begin with. And if their having troubles dealing with original problems, they are likely going to continue having them.

Personally, I'd rather have something that worked straight away. I've had an iPod for about a year, and I think I've applied two updates. Neither of these were necessary for *stability*. Instead, they actually added features.

Re:My review of the Karma. (1)

Kenja (541830) | about 10 years ago | (#10504553)

"Personally, I'd rather have something that worked straight away."

When I dream, I want a pony. No software as complex as these players gets released bug free and feature complete. I would rather have a company release updates that fix issues and add features then have them ignore me after they get my money.

Managing 6000 songs is a pain without iTunes.. (1, Offtopic)

dwipal (709116) | about 10 years ago | (#10504291)

I use iTunes+iPod, and the main reason i am not switching away from the ipod is other players dont work with itunes. I simply love itunes in its simplicity and usability, and its just makes very easy to manage the huge library with its clean interface. There is simply no good reason to switch from ipod yet, not even the price after they released the new 4g ipods.

Reliability (4, Informative)

jackjumper (307961) | about 10 years ago | (#10504301)

I've had one of these for almost a year now. I use it exclusively for playing oggs and exclusively with Linux. It works really well. I've got about 1300 songs on it, almost all encoded at 360kpbs. Sounds fantastic.

I have had a couple of freezeups and various glitches but they all have been minor and have been resolved by either a reset (the paper clip) or powering it off and then on.

I really like that I can use it with Linux and that it uses ethernet connectivity. (BTW: It's not that bad setting a static IP address - takes about 2 minutes)

One question: Where's the "developer's site on the internet" for the java transfer software? Would it be so hard to include a link?

Why do you need the Karma? (1)

mreed911 (794582) | about 10 years ago | (#10504304)

It's pretty wonderful to select 4 hours of random music for the evening, and not have to worry about changing CDs.

I had a 110-disc CD deck that would do random music between all 110 CD's or any group thereof that I chose... didn't require a digital music player.

Re:Why do you need the Karma? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10504355)

Must've been one of those analog CD players then.

Re:Why do you need the Karma? (1)

mreed911 (794582) | about 10 years ago | (#10504367)

No, it had digital outs. The point was that hours of random tracks is not some new feature only available to those with digital music players... my iPod does it, but that's not why I bought the iPod.

Re:Why do you need the Karma? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10504423)

And his point was that CDs are digital.

Re:Why do you need the Karma? (1)

Crouching Turbo (550843) | about 10 years ago | (#10504396)

CD players are "digital music players", but your point is well taken.

Re:Why do you need the Karma? (3, Interesting)

yagu (721525) | about 10 years ago | (#10504502)

I also had a 110 (actually 110 + 1), and a 400 CD changer both of which had the random function. But, I didn't find it totally satisfactory. Most notably the noise when changing disks, and also the delay between songs.

I also have the Karma now (it was a gift), and I LOVE it! What maybe isn't clear in the original article is the user doesn't just turnn on the Karma in random mode and let it play for four hours. The Karma has a DJ "wizard", and you can ask it to generate playlists for you based on criteria. Some examples, but not limited to:

  • length of playing time you want your playlist to cover
  • exclusion (don't put any songs I've listened to on the playlist from the last xx days)
  • genre of music selected for your playlist
  • linear, repeat, shuffle (random) playing of items from playlist
  • "popularity" of songs (put songs into playlist from the top xx listened-to songs)
  • year music is from
  • "oldies" (add songs to playlist which I haven't listened to in the last xx days or weeks)

My CD changers served me well, but I welcome the change and improvement... (for example, it is really nice to be able to slip the Karma out of its dock, and go out and do yard work with the same selection of songs as what I had indoors. Additionally, even recording mp3's at 192K, I have a 2/3 full Karma with almost 200 CD's

Also, instead of a 30 lb. (fully loaded) changer taking up lots of space in my cabinet, the Karma is itsy-bitsy, and can be put anywhere.

Not saying your changer isn't plenty good, but if you ever get the opportunity (fits your budget, a good friend gives you one :-), blah, blah, blah), go for it... you won't be disappointed.

brand value ! (0, Offtopic)

phreakv6 (760152) | about 10 years ago | (#10504309)

repeat after me... "Chicks love apple"

Scary lockups aside... (3, Insightful)

kzinti (9651) | about 10 years ago | (#10504310)

Are you kidding me? No matter how great the rest of the features, "scary lockups" are not something most people will just ignore - especially when they cause the hard drive to seek for 40 continuous minutes, draining the battery. I'll keep my iPod, thanks very much, and when I want to replace it, this Rio will not be on my list for consideration.

Re:Scary lockups aside... (1)

BenjyD (316700) | about 10 years ago | (#10504495)

Precisely - especially as the 'lockup' problem that requires a bang to fix is supposedly caused by the head sticking to the surface of the disk, which will knacker the disk in no time.
He's only had the thing a few months and it's had one serious hardware problem already. Who the hell cares about the unit's features if it can't even work for that long reliably?

hmmm (2, Insightful)

delta_avi_delta (813412) | about 10 years ago | (#10504324)

Definately hasn't convinced me to change the "My New iRiver" sticker on my penny jar.

Archos is open source.. (5, Insightful)

freelunch (258011) | about 10 years ago | (#10504326)

I have had an Archos for about a year and have been very happy. The open source Rockbox [] software is great..

I don't see much point in the Karma. It is expensive.. somewhat unstable.. and like most proprietary products, will be End of Life'd soon enough.

What I would really like to have is WAV recording capability. Though the MP3 recording on the Archos has worked well and I have sourced at least one concert using it with the line-in and good mics.

Good recording capability is lacking in most products.

Not the First Rio HD Unit. (2, Informative)

stuffman64 (208233) | about 10 years ago | (#10504334)

The Rio Riot [] was the first HD unit by Rio. I own one myself, and it was a terrific audio device until a mishap with a homebrew car docking cradle fried the system board. I attempted to fix it, but when it was apart, I accidently tore the thin plastic LCD connector (which had its "grain" perpendicular to the conductors, and thus tore in a way I can't repair). I really miss it for music, but the good side is that I now have a decent battery for "projects" and a 20-GB harddrive which I am trying to mate with my Sharp Zaurus SL-C860 PDA.

Sonic Blue, however, is horrible with support. They released very few software updates, and the device only worked with MusicMatch Jukebox. But the interface was awesome, and the sound quality was quite good for a portable unit.

Which Ogg? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10504336)

plays a wide variety of file formats, including Ogg.

Which Ogg? Ogg Vorbis? Ogg FLAC? Ogg Speex? Ogg Tarkin? Ogg is just a container format. It's akin to saying "it plays a wide variety of file formats, including bytes." Nonsensical.

Re:Which Ogg? (1)

mimio (151368) | about 10 years ago | (#10504356)

Ogg Vorbis.

Sound Quality & Scary Lockups (2, Informative)

Malchized (815785) | about 10 years ago | (#10504338)

Myself and 2 friends all have the Karma, and have all experinced the scarry lockup. But amazingly, they seem to work fine in spite of this strange phenomenon (I've had mine for almost a year now).

The sound quality is great, that's the main reason I went with the Karma. I believe the signal/noise ratio is 95 (higher than iPod). Just make sure you play Oggs and Flacs to take advantage of it. This also was the only player that supported Flacs at the time I purchased.

Poor OS Support (2, Insightful)

mreed911 (794582) | about 10 years ago | (#10504339)

...Linux friendly... is OS-agnostic...

Since I currently only have Linux machines at home, the included software was useless.

So, was it or was it *not* linux friendly? Seems like linux friendly, especially with java-based software, would mean that the included OS-agnostic, linux-friendly software would both be included AND work. What's the deal, man?

So let me get this straight (1)

psetzer (714543) | about 10 years ago | (#10504340)

Does this feature count as Karma-Whoring?

Love it (4, Informative)

xyloplax (607967) | about 10 years ago | (#10504343)

I love my Karma. Would I trade it for an IPod? You betcha. But I am a technology whore, so discount that.

Good sound. Nice equalizer function. Easy to use PC GUI. It fits great in my hand. The controls are very easy to use. It's cheaper than an IPod. Jog dial makes life easy. Big, easy to read screen. Long battery life.

Can hang or crash on occasion if you put it in your pocket and you walk fast like me. Battery is non-replaceable. Faint, slight hiss in the background (regardless of format). No random per band or per album. Flaky ethernet port.

I do not regret my purchase. I can live with the cons.

Here it comes.. (1)

scrubmuffin (173705) | about 10 years ago | (#10504370)

This poster will now be eviscerated by a small pack of rabid Chihuahua like slashdotters.

Pleas stand by..

Missing accesories (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 10 years ago | (#10504382)

the page list a docking station, cables, etc, but missing in the pack are the essential clip for resets and the hammer to make it start to work fairly well. Those are sold separately or the user must provide them?

About the equation 1Gb=1,000,000,000 bytes in their site, so their 20 Gb is not exactly what everyone thinks, well, probably they are not the only ones that do that equivalences.

Loans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10504413)

So...if I lend out my Karma player to many of my friends, would I be.....Karma whoring?


another point of view (1)

Mstrgeek (820200) | about 10 years ago | (#10504425)

This is another review that was done on the same product back in November

What do we all think of this review how do they compare?

iRiver H120 (2, Informative)

AndyCampbell (801057) | about 10 years ago | (#10504427)

I did plenty of research into MP3 players over the summer, and arrived at a purchase of an iRiver H120 (previously IHP-120) instead of the equivalent iPod or Karma units. It has a 20GB hard drive, inline remote with full functionality, microphone for recording, fm radio reception, supports MP3 and OGG, long battery life (16 hours or so), works as a mass storage device (no iTunes or other custom software to upload music, can be used easily as a file transfer unit), and pretty decent firmware. Essentially, it's the best hardware on the market, although I'm not sure if they're being sold anymore - iRiver seems to be pimping the H300 series now instead. Comparatively, the iPod has a severe lack of functionality, and the Karma was getting a terrible reputation for hard drive failures, so my choice was pretty clear.

The firmware has a few deficiencies, like a lack of gapless playback and a true random shuffle, and the iRiver firmware developers seem to have other priorities. Rockbox has chosen the H100 series as its next toy, since the Archos boxes are no longer available, so hopefully we'll have some nice open-source firmware to play with soon enough. Rockbox has refused to touch the Rio and iPod because of the built-in DRM chips that have no published specs.

Microsoft DRM Enabled (2, Informative)

thepod (557531) | about 10 years ago | (#10504440)

" OS-agnostic"

...not hardly. It requires Windows-based drivers to access the device as a regular hard drive for non-music files (unless someone's hacked it for Linux).

Microsoft makes this a requirement for any device that is licensed to play Microsoft DRMed music.

Besides, isn't this review like, two years too late?

but... is it better than... (0)

SatanMat (757225) | about 10 years ago | (#10504452)

First, I have an ipod, so yes I am kind of locked into apple's little world. and I dont have OGG playback.

But is it better? --you had to smack it on your desk to get it to reboot-- "This will not do"
I've had only one or two problems in the year of owning my ipod and your review does not bode well for the rio. Linux useability may be high on _your_ list, but since I am locked into windows, for reasons that are of no import, nothing you give in your review tell me about what I want to know.

--How is battery life overall?

--How is the interface?

--Sound quality?

Open standards are VERY GOOD. (go OGG!!) but, FOR ME, not enough to even bother trying it without more info.

Neuros (1)

kronin (413035) | about 10 years ago | (#10504459)

The Neuros [] 20 GB hard drive player costs $249, supports Ogg Vorbis, Linux, has open-source firmware, several open-source synch managers, has a 90-day labor and 1-year parts warranty, a built-in FM modulator, and a modular backpack architecture so if you want to go running with it, you can swap to a flash backpack.

Oh yeah, and there's an active developer community around the open-source firmware and sync managers.

Solutions (4, Informative)

GarfBond (565331) | about 10 years ago | (#10504461)

If the OP only has linux machines at home, chances are he didn't apply the necessary firmware patches.

While the unit does have a history of locking up, this was both a problem of between the Hitachi drive's firmware and the Karma's firmware. As of FW 1.25 (I believe) Rio believes they have completely solved problems from their end. Thus, if you have a fully updated Karma and the drive is still flaking out, it's probably Hitachi's fault (still Rio's fault for choosing Hitachi, but at least you know what's going on).

Firmware upgrades are regrettably only upgradeable through USB using Windows. However, once you update the firmware yourself, Rio Music Manager Lite (the java version mentioned) works perfectly fine through Ethernet, and is quite nice actually. The latest firmware available is v1.68, obtainable from the Karma support site [] . As a review though, this kinda sucked because it doesn't mention other niceties of the Karma. Battery life is rated at about 15 hours (12 if you use oggs exclusively). Gapless playback is possible with LAME-ripped MP3s and all Oggs. The karma is perfectly capable of using DHCP, not sure why the reviewer wanted to go through the hassle of a static assignment.

Riovolution [] is a great site for Rio owners, containing FAQs and a useful Forum. In fact, Rio employees post on the website from time to time, though obviously in an unofficial manner. That site was the originator of the "smack your karma" solution if you ran into the same problem as the user above did (short reason: sticky hard drive. Check the FAQs).

Personally, I love my Karma. I got it at Bestbuy with warranty in case it died, so I don't have to worry about that. I have yet to experience ANY hard drive issues (upgraded the firmware as the first thing I did), and it's been working great so far. I've been using it for about 5 months now with no problems. My personal rating of the product would be 6-7/10 because of the reliability issues with the product (new units don't seem to be bad, but it's hard to get accurate numbers). Without reliability problems I'd give it a 9/10.

Re:Solutions (1)

GarfBond (565331) | about 10 years ago | (#10504527)

Oh, a couple of more additions:

The karma supports Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WMA, and FLAC fully and without issues. Comparable to AAC, MP3, and Apple Lossless for you ipod whores :)

Another great feature is the 5-band parametric EQ, for you audiophiles who know what you're doing. There are of course various presets.

I want to reiterate Gapless Playback support. As far as I know, no one else has managed to do this properly yet (iriver's got a crappy beta firmware I think). Great for those live albums that absolutely must blend into each other.

The Karma supports any and all OSes, including Linux, provided you have Java installed and have the Karma hooked up via network.

The menu system is just about as easy as the ipod's. Both have well laid out menus.

The karma also has on the fly playlists, which I believe the 4g ipod just recently got.

Bought a second karma (5, Interesting)

mimio (151368) | about 10 years ago | (#10504463)

I bought mine almost six months ago. Have not had a lockup in 4 months.
Battery life is excellent, 12 hours playing music opposed to some players that have battery duration of 12 hours starting from the moment you remove it from the charger.
The shape is great because it allows you to use it with one hand.
Plays several formats including Ogg Vorbis.
Rio DJ allows me to select predifined playlists based on:

* Entertain Me!: Generates playlist from most frequently played music. Mix can last 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1, 2, 3, 4, or 8 hours.
* Play All: Play everything and automatically sort by album, artist, genre, or year.
* Top Tunes: Play the most frequently played tracks. You can choose from the top 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 100, or 250 songs.
* New Music: Play the most recently imported tracks. Choose from music imported in the last 1 day, 3 days, 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 6 months, or 1 year.
* Memory Lane: Play tracks that haven't been played in a while. Choose from music not played in the last 1 day, 3 days, 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 6 months, or 1 year.
* Sounds Of...: Play tracks from the 1940's, 1950's, 1960's, 1970's, 1980's, 1990's, or newer than 2000
* Forgotten Gems: Play old favorites that haven't been played in the last 1 day, 3 days, 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 6 months, or 1 year.
* Déjà Vu: Play tracks that have been played in the last 1 day, 3 days, 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 6 months, or 1 year.
* Random Mix: Generate a random list lasting 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1, 2, 3, 4, or 8 hours.

There is very detailed review at: []

Two months ago I bought a second Karma for my wife. I can say the karma is the best gadget I have bought in a long time.

solid state==better portable (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10504465)

In 1999, I bought the original 32 MB rio PMP 300. It was a great invention (despite the fact that my daily running regimen broke 4 of them).
When the 64 MB PMP 500 came out, I was one of the first in line. I currently have a solid state memory player with 384 MB of memory (apporximately 90 songs) that never locks up, skips, or breaks, mainly because there are no moving parts!
I sometimes wonder how many people even HAVE 20 Gigabytes of music, leave alone a desire to have every track on their walkman at the same time... I think the portable audio industry should stop this strange contest of who has the biggest hard drive, and focus more on portability, efficiency, and overall durability, and leave desktops for music storage!

My Kharma (3, Interesting)

L3on (610722) | about 10 years ago | (#10504471)

I have owned a rio kharma for about a year now (got one when they first came out). I had to have it RMAed about 2 months after I got it because the HD failed, other than that I love it. OGG format on it is the best and the built-in playlist features can't be beat. Also, the docking cradle which sits on my desk glows to the beat of the music. The other thing that is great about the Kharma is it has both USB and Ethernet connectivity through its docking cradle so friends on your network can drop songs directly onto it.

Things I don't like about the Kharma is the software utility, it takes forever to add music to the browser.

Karma owner (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10504472)

Karma positives:

Ethernet port (with this port, the possibilities are endless....think about it)
Gapless Playback (no gaps inbetween tracks...a HUGE plus for me)
USB 2.0
OGG/FLAC support
excellent sound quality
5 band equalizer
good size for a 20 gig player
Rio DJ (a feature I cannot live without)
support forums that have Rio employees actively participating in
firmware upgradable (with regular releases)

Karma negatives:

Hard drive issues for roughly 2% of karma owners (based entirely off observations)
easily scratched screen
lack of FM tuner
is not USB MSC compatible (you need to download proprietary software to use USB 2.0 transfers which means no Linux/Mac support)
terrible customer support (from what I've read)

All in all, I'm happy that I got one of these puppies for Christmas. There have been talks (since before Christmas) that there will be USB MSC support added into a future firmware release, however we have not seen it to date (and I ran out of breathe a long time ago).

Another happy owner (5, Interesting)

Richard_J_N (631241) | about 10 years ago | (#10504491)

I've got one too - and I have to say, I'm mainly very happy with it. I bought mine for the sound quality - it's vastly better than the iPod.
(The iPod has "issues" with Classical music with a large dynamic range at high bitrates which make the sound utterly excruciating - yes, this is a bug in the design, and no, Apple don't give a Monkey's).

All I'd like to see added is a way to remote-control it via ethernet (i.e. to actually make it start playing!)

Another nice feature - it's easy to disassemble. I took the back off mine so as to write my name inside it (in case of loss/theft) - and it uses *proper* screws !

the geek's mp3 player IMNSHO (4, Informative)

loraksus (171574) | about 10 years ago | (#10504498)

Sort of off topic, but a Archos jukebox recorder can be had for a bit over a hundred bucks, 20gb, has digital in / out, mounts like a hdd under any o/s, charges off a usb cable or wall-wart and uses a standard usb cable (the mini b "camera" one). Oh yeah, it can record via a built in mic or an external.
It also has a open source firmware called rockbox.
( ) and you really can't find a battery powered portable 20 GB drive for the price.

My only bitch is that the randomize feature could use a little work. Kinda looks ugly, but to me (college student) spending $200 to get a nice white ipod is, well, better spent on food and liqour.

Can't play .ogg, but why would I want to re-encode all my music?

I'd take one. (1)

Retep Vosnul (663388) | about 10 years ago | (#10504513)

It would accentuate my iPod very nicely.

Not the first Rio HD player (2, Informative)

dschuetz (10924) | about 10 years ago | (#10504529)

I believe it is Rio's first HDD-based player

Their first HD-based MP3 player was the Rio Riot. I bought one of those a couple of years ago on eBay for about 2/3 list, and love it. However, I rarely use it any longer because of a) low battery life, b) absolutely impossible to get music onto the damned thing, and c) I now have XM.

Aside from the above-mentioned drawbacks, what I really loved about the Riot was the interface. It had the standard by song, by artist, and by genre selections. But you could also build your own playlists (we've done that on long trips, on the fly), it also can play random selections from your most-played songs, least-played songs, or even just fill X number of minutes with random music.

Unfortunately, it was only USB-1, and required a screwed-up version of iTunes or MusicMatch to get songs onto the unit. Right now I really want to remove all the music and start over, but it's just too difficult to bother with. :(

Even the iPod, from what I understand, doesn't do this quite "right". All I want is a fast interface (USB2 or FW), that shows up as a hard drive, and let me drag songs and playlists on/off as I like. let the box periodically re-index its database, rather than doing it as I transfer songs (as every other device seems to do).

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that this wasn't Rio's first HD unit. And that I still like their software better than the iPod's. Give me iPod-quality hardware with improved Rio software, and I'll go back to MP3s in a heartbeat.

Archos AV120 w/ DVR Attachment (1)

loraksus (171574) | about 10 years ago | (#10504544)

Or spend $289 for a device that you can also watch video on (and record, and play on a tv, etc etc).
Archos AV120 w/ DVR Attachment p3/5fe2/
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