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expensive, but good.
Rio Volt SP100
Member Name: adriang
Rio Volt SP100
Date: 06/01/03, updated on 06/01/03 (378 review reads)
Advantages: mp3s, local navigation, robust unit
Disadvantages: a bit bulky
In the box comes the player, some headphones, including the piece to do the volume and limited track control from the wire. It also acts as an extension to the headphones wire, as it has about 1 metre of cable, with it. This controller bit is about the size and shape of a wristwatch, and I found it was eternally getting tangled up. (You can see it on the picture on this site). There was also a manual, and a quick start guide. Except for the firmware upgrade instructions, I have not needed the manual; the quick start is perfectly adequate.
First thing I did was to get some replacement headphones. I read some reviews that said the ones supplied were not up to much, and they were not! A pair of Philips ones that clip behind my ears mean I can jog or cycle without them falling off. And the sound is a lot better.
Size of the player is a little thicker than some of the Japanese branded ones currently available. To me, this is not an issue, as the entire reason I bough the player was for traveling. I spend about 2 months a year traveling on business, and listening to my personal music tastes helps in making long flights, and hotel rooms more bearable. It is plastic, so is very light, but it does not give me the impression that it is flimsy.
When I got it, the first thing I was advised to do, was to upgrade the firmware inside. This is to update all of the internal software, and this was pretty easy for me. Just download it from the web, burn it to a CD, and put it in the machine. This might sound complicated, but in the world of MP3's, downloading and burning CDs is not an issue!
There are controls for setting my several preset sound configurations (rock, jaz, etc), or I can make, and store my own. I always have mine set on rock.
It can be programmed with play lists, although I have never
even tried this.
There is an LCD display that shows the track details (MP3's have id tags, containing the name and artist of the track). This display can also be used for navigating through the mp3 files on the CD. Finally, and the only really negative thing, is that there are some animated dancing characters that always move on the LCD display when it is playing music. Sounds trivial, it probably is, but it really irritates me!
As mentioned, navigation through the tracks is displayed, and it is actually carried out with a 4 way button that can be pushed up, down, left and right. This button also is used for stop/off, play, previous and next track.
As mp3 files are PC files, when on a CD, it makes some sense to put them in a directory order. These are displayed very logically on the lcd display, and navigating with the 4 way button is reasonably straight forward. Nothing wrong with this, except once of twice I found I turned the thing off, as I had reached the top (root!) of the CD directory structure, so button being pushed left becomes the off button instead of up a directory level.
When powering on, the display takes a few seconds to load up the contents of the cd, and the firmware upgrade mentioned earlier actually improved this by about 5 seconds. A nice feature is that if the CD has been played previously, then the exact track is remembered, and it will restart from that place. I am sure that this is limited to 10 cds. I only carry 6 because that is more than enough music for me.
I recently tried it in a friend?s car stereo, which had one of those cassette tape converters. So I plugged the audio-out into the converter, and the sound was very good. Better than his tapes, both from a taste and a quality perspective!
The makers claim 20 hours battery life. I get about 12-16 hours. Perhaps if I put in a cd, and just let it play, without any navigating from track to track, battery life would be bet
ter. It uses 2 batteries (AA I think is the size.).
I have used it on holiday, in the blazing sun, and also whilst snowboarding. No problems with the extreme heat or cold.
There is a switch for the memory, for the jog protection, and even though I have it on the lower setting (less battery use I am told), I have never had it jump or skip. Watching the CD spin, it reads a large part of a track into memory before playing.
Playing standard audio CDs is fine, and is as good any other Discman/portable I have used.
The entire concept is great. I can get about 6-8 CDs compressed onto one CD. I can create favorite compilations, which means less CDs to carry around, and a lot less flexibility. I wish the automotive industry would start doing something for car stereo systems (Alfa Romeo have just started).
Only downside is I need a faster PC, to speed up the CD to mp3 extraction. I won?t talk about Napster!