Product Type: Rio MP3 players
Newest Review: ... a darn sight small than MP3 files so you can get about twice as much music on the Rio. Another brilliant detail on this is that it comes w... more
OK, so I love it!!
Rio PMP600 32 MB
Member Name: MR.COATES
Rio PMP600 32 MB
Date: 21/02/01, updated on 26/03/01 (564 review reads)
Advantages: Small, light, stylish.
Disadvantages: Not enough memory
Sure, you’ve heard of Napster and downloading songs from the net for free and even buying albums online that you can download to your PC but is that it?
You have to trawl the net and spend hours downloading songs to get MP3 files?
Of course not – that would be silly wouldn’t it?!
Ask yourself just one question – where did those MP3 files come from in the first place?
That’s right, someone has got to make them and that someone could be you!!
Now hold your horses, we’ll get to the Diamond Rio 600 in just a moment – there are plenty of things you need to know first.
So, MP3, what’s that all about eh?
Basically, an MP3 (MPEG 3) file is a compressed version of an everyday song.
An MP3 player (whether it’s a portable one or one installed on your PC such as Winamp or Windows media player) can read these special files and de-code them to play the music.
Very clever and more importantly much smaller.
A CD holds around 75 minutes of music and the capacity in Megabits is around 750. Therefore saving a CD in its raw uncompressed form would be frankly ridiculous due to costs and storage.
When the audio from a CD is compressed down to an MP3 format the size is reduced quite dramatically leaving you with files that can be stored on your PC or portable player without the need for enormous amounts of memory.
OK, that should do you for a rough overview.
So let’s look a little closer at the player.
The Diamond Rio 600 is on the whole a pretty wonderful little piece of kit and when I say little I am not joking.
This thing is actually slightly smaller than a pack of cigarettes and it’s lighter than even some of the smallest mobile phones.
raight away makes it a portable option that’s even more convenient than a Walkman or a minidisc player.
It acts like a Walkman, Discman or minidisc player too.
There’s very little here that will seem out of place, Play/Pause, Stop, Fast forward, skip and volume controls are all here along with a menu button and an on/off/hold switch.
As the size of the player is small you won’t be too shocked to hear that the buttons are too and whether you’ve got big hands or not (not that I want to know either way!), you’ll find that the buttons are perhaps a little too small.
They are responsive though and certainly nothing to lose sleep over.
On the front of the player you will also find a small oval LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) screen which has a rather lovely blue backlight.
Although the screen is small, you will not have any difficulty reading any of the information that is displayed – it really is very nice and clear.
You can customise the backlight facility too – when a button is touched the light can remain on for either 1, 2, 5, 10 seconds or alternatively you can have the light on or off constantly.
This of course will affect the length of battery life.
Displayed on screen is all of the Track information (Artist, Song, duration and even bitrate).
The menus are very simple to navigate around.
When you press the menu button you will have the following options – Audio, Player, Prefs, About.
Very obvious, but anyway....
This is the ‘how it sounds’ option.
There are seven pre-set sound options (Normal, Jazz, Rock, Rap, Classic, Book and Flat).
These all sound slightly different although if seven options aren’t enough there is a custom option too where you can define the treble and bass settings.
In effect you have access to a two band graphic equaliser (for the techie geeks among you!).
Here you will find your play options (random, repeat), you can delete tracks from the player and you can also create playlists (track order etc).
This is where you can modify your display options such as backlight duration, automatic shut down (if the player isn’t used for a set period of minutes ranging from 0 to 9,Time Date (*), and battery information.
(*) You will notice that when you connect your player to your PC that the time and date is automatically downloaded from the time/date information on your PC. Very handy indeed.
Tells you ABOUT (clever stuff) the player – things like remaining battery life, how much memory is used and which file types are supported.
A note here – the player is designed to be future proof (we shall see) as the software can be upgraded to be compatible with future file formats.
While we’re on the subject of file formats this player doesn’t just play MP3 files.
There is an alternative format called WMA (Windows Media Audio) and there is one very distinct advantage here – the files can be smaller but without losing any noticeable quality.
An MP3 file will typically be at a bitrate of around 128kbps (kilobytes per second) - although this can be higher OR lower.
When you convert songs from CD though (using the supplied software) you will find that you create a .wma file instead of an MP3 file.
The big difference though is that the .wma file will be at 64kbps and yes, you’ve guessed it, that means you can store twice as many files compared to just using MP3 files.
So, how does the sound quality compare to everything else?
We’ll talk about the difference in bitrates (not meant to be dull!) in a moment.
The main thing you’ll want to know is how good it compares to the format of choice – the CD.
Well, you may have hea
rd that the quality of MP3 files is poor.
I’m afraid that quite simply is not true.
There is such as thing as a good and bad MP3 file but if it’s been recorded properly I would challenge you to point out differences between the two.
I was however fairly sceptical about the quality of the wma files.
This was no worry either though – the quality is absolutely brilliant.
I would recommend that you replace the headphones which are supplied – they simply don’t do the player justice.
A CD-ROM is bundled with the player which contains the drivers and the audio software.
Once installed it will become very clear just how easy it is to get files onto your lovely little player. You can locate existing files on your PC (from Napster etc) and you can also create your own files from your existing CD collection.
This is all really VERY easy and fairly fast – you insert your CD into the drive on your PC and select which track you wish to convert into a wma file.
You will at this point also have the option to connect to the net to automatically find the artist and track information (very clever indeed and free).
Alternatively you can write the information in yourself if you aren’t connected to the net.
Files can then be transferred to the player and this really is exceptionally fast thanks to the USB (Universal System Bus) connection.
Make sure you’ve got one or you won’t be able to download files to the player!!
You can have either MP3 files or wma files and even both together.
This is going to be most people’s main gripe.
The supplied memory chip contains only 32mb of RAM.
To put this in perspective a typical MP3 file of is approximately 1mb per minute so you get about 30 mins of music.
Not very long is it really?
If you’ve only got wma files then this is doubled to rough
ly an hour of music, which is much better but still not brilliant.
There are upgrade packs available, but this of course is additional cost and it is not particularly cheap to buy.
The unit takes a single AA battery (you get a Duracell one supplied) and will last up to 8 hours although depending on your options (backlight especially) this will probably be less.
Supplied with the player you will get a USB cable to connect your PC to the player, the driver/audio software disc, a pair of headphones and a small carrying case with belt clip.
There are plenty of other extras you can get including replaceable coloured covers (blue is supplied with the player) and larger carry cases to hold it all in.
Check out www.riostuff.com for more details.
So, overall a very nice little piece of equipment.
It’s certainly not a cheap hobby, but files are easy to create, the player is extremely portable, build quality is good and the performance is very impressive.
It’s probably not essential for the casual music fan but if you love music and are a bit of a technology fan then you’ll absolutely love the simplicity and convenience of MP3.
Diamond have done a great job with the Rio 600 and if you’re willing to spend a bit more then the Rio 800 is pretty much perfect (with 64mb of memory and a remote control among the additions).
That is all I have to say on this matter!
Dropped it yesterday. The case was only slightly scratched - but it doesn't work now.
One drop, case barely damaged but obviously something inside has broken.
So don't drop yours.
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