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Let's Play With It!

64 MB of memory was exactly what I needed. My other MP3 player only features 32 MB of memory and that was just not enough for the amount of music I wanted to take on the go with me. Add to that the fact that I found myself tired of hearing the same six or seven songs over and over and you can see I was really looking for a player with more capacity. Better yet, add the ability to pack another 16 MB in with the flash memory upgrade slot and you should have no problems packing all your Dre and Metallica favorites on the player. On the right side of the unit is a button labeled "browse". Pressing that will list all your songs in a play list that you can scroll up or down on. The volume button also serves as the controller for all options. Simply press it down to enter the options menu and scroll up and down with the wheel. In this menu you'll find the repeat, random, program, EQ, and backlight settings. The one handed operation of this unit made it very flexible and easy to use. Too many manufacturers forget such a simple thing as being able to operate the controls while on the go. The battery life is very good. I averaged over 15 hours with each battery I used. Diamond claims a battery life of 13 hours. Depending on your battery brand you should have no problems reaching that figure.

Diamond sells a car kit for the Rio 500. It consists of a tape adapter that plugs into the headphone jack. Sound in the car was quite impressive. While the unit only features four sound presets (normal, classic, jazz, and rock) there is also a custom feature that will let you select how much bass and treble you want. A nice feature also packed into this unit is that the volume control goes up to number 20! No wimpy number 10 setting here. Ok, just kidding, but the sound output was quite good and I had no problems with the quality of the sound at its maximum setting. Also optional are the rugged travel case that was provided with this review unit, a leather case, and behind the ear conventional headphones.

Pros
Cons
  • Large memory capacity
  • Ergonomic design
  • Stay in place earbud headphones
  • RioPORT software is very good
  • Isn't compatible with the widely available 32 and 64 MB flash memory (see below for update)

Conclusions

There are so many unique features in this player that it is hard to compare it to most MP3 players on the market. This is by far one of the best players, if not the best, currently available. Its sound quality is very good, and more importantly, you can put enough music on it to actually make the unit useful. The LCD panel has good size type and has a backlight, which is turned on every time a button is pressed. From a design standpoint the layout of the controls on this unit are top notch. Also an improvement are the unique earbud headphones that actually stay on your head. I was quite tired of reinserting the headphones from my other MP3 player.

One area where this MP3 player really stands apart from its competition is its software. Not only was the user interface of the software very easy to figure out, but the added flexibility that the RioPORT website offers puts this unit leaps ahead of the software included with other MP3 players. The software even works for you Mac types out there. In my mind, the best feature of this unit is its ability to use flash memory to increase its capacity. If you like, buy a few of those memory cards and organize your music taste in 16 MB genres. I would have liked to see this unit be compatible with 32 and 64 MB flash memory, but a capacity of 80 MBs at this point is very acceptable. If you are looking to buy an MP3 player I highly recommend you consider the Rio 500. Its combination of play time, ease of use, and great software package make it hard to beat.

Victor Oshiro July 26, 2000

Update 10-10-2000

There has been a firmware update for the RIO 500 that allows it to use 64 MB flash memory. This solves the problem with the flash memory and, in my opionion, makes it the best available MP3 player on the market at this time.

 





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