In the wake of every other device, Rio has announced that it too will upgrade its mini-sized audio player, the Carbon, to 6GB. It is supposed to be available June 1st and will retail for $229 [Via Engadget].
Editorial note: does Rio even care about this market anymore? They haven't released a new product in forever and the long-rumored Karma 2 is nowhere to be seen. Apple, iRiver, Creative, Archos and everyone else are actively moving their product lines forward with nary a peep out of Rio. What's gives?
It looks as if iRiver will be upgrading (in Korean) the H10 from a 4GB capacity to 6GB in the near future. Moves like this are pretty much a no brainer these days, as the iPod Mini and Creative Zen Micro have already made the jump. [Via DAPReview].
Big thumbs for Knighthawk prodding into Roc Digital open-sourcing their firmware, though. We wish him the best.
The ever-resourceful DAPReview gang has gotten their hot little hands on what might be the only iAudio X5 in the US. They've got lots of photos and even more photos on the new audio/video player. And we're sure they're cranking away on a review as we speak, so stay tuned for that.
As you can see from the picture below, the X5 sizes up very favorably to the iPod while cramming in quite a few nice extra features.
Most noticably, the X5 has a bright, 1.8" color screen. Models will come in a range of capacities from 20GB up to 60GB and will not only play audio, but video as well. Past iAudio models have had excellent support for various music formats beyond MP3s (such as Ogg and FLAC) and we expect no different from the X5. We're not sure yet, though, which video formats the X5 will support.
Another big thumbs up for the X5 comes from its support for USB On the Go, which lets you import photos directly from a digital camera. Neither the iPod Photo or the iRiver H320 (the US version, at least) have this capability out of the box.
No word, however, on when (or IF!) it will be available in the US. Currently the X5 is only sold in Korea.
Cowon iAUDIO M5 Announced
The review author, Chris Roper, gave it an 8.5/10 and strong praise:
I really like the iriver H10 quite a bit. The audio quality is excellent and the touch strip works very well. The whole interface is simple to navigate through with this setup, making for a quick and easy track selection process.
Market analysis firm JupiterResearch is predicting that the US MP3 player market will grow by 35% in 2005 and end with 18.2 million devices being sold.
Also, Jupiter predicts that once a "critical mass" (around 15%-20% of the population) gets their hands on audio players this year, demand for a new a wave of associated products and services (accessories and online music stores, for example) will emerge.
HWZone has posted a lengthy review of the iAudio M3L, a device that hasn't gotten a lot of press since its introduction. If you're not familiar with the M3L, it's a 20GB audio player marketed under both the Cowon and JetAudio brand names.
Notably the M3L does not have an LCD on the main unit, rather it's on the inline remote control. Also the 'L' stands for Long, as in battery life. The M3L has a higher capacity battery than its cousin, the M3.
ExtremeTech has taken a look at the many popular online music stores and compiled their thoughts into one big roundup. All the biggies are covered: eMusic, Apple's iTunes Music Store, MSN Music, Napster, Sony's Connect Service, Musicmatch, Rhapsody, Virgin and the Wal-Mart Music Downloads Store.
As you can see, there are a lot of choices and a lot of variables to consider, so their last words are probably the best:
All of the services we looked at offer free limited-time trial periods, so if you've been looking to expand your music collection, and are looking to move beyond CDs, then give one of these services a try. In some cases you'll need to give a credit card number during the trial period, and the cancellation is an opt-out process where you'll stay in the service if you don't actively de-activate your account. So if you decide a service isn't for you, don't forget to actively shut the account down to avoid unwanted credit card charges.
The iPod accessory parade continues. Korean company Thanko is debuting the iCombi AP11, which turns your iPod into a Bluetooth transmitter. Now you can listen to your iPod, wirelessly, through Bluetooth headphones or on your laptop.
The AP11 supports A2DP, AVRCP, Headset and Hands-free Bluetooth profiles, though Headset and Handsfree wouldn't give you stereo sound. Range is said to be around 10m (32 feet). [Via DAPReview]
BTI has announced an interesting new iPod accessory, the Tunestir. It combines an FM receiver, an inline remote and an FM transmitter into one package. The Tunestir even has 5 presets for listening to radio stations and another 5 presets for open FM channels to transmit on. Everything is controlled from the inline remote control unit.
Retailing for $69.95, the Tunestir is supposed to be available later this month. [Via Engadget]
Robert over at DAPReview has posted his review of the Archos Gmini XS200. The XS200 is one of Archos's newest models, with a 20GB capacity in a squarish, tiny package. And with a street price under $200, it's a compelling choice.
Robert gave it 77/100:
...the XS200 keeps things so straightforward, clean and simple that it tips of both ends of the balance on more than one occasion. Undeniably, it's the most pocket-friendly 20GB player out there - albeit rather thick next to an iPod, but who cares. As long as you keep focusing on the playback of digital music formats, this unit does marvels for your money.
Ah well, there are some glitches in the execution of it all, of course. Some valuable battery life has been sacrificed to shrink it down to matchbox-like proportions and the XS200 comes with a very skimpy accessory set. However, the true "problem" lies within its hardware-related capabilities. This unit won't go very far beyond playing MP3's. That's fine to 90% of us, but if you're looking for advanced features or nifty gimmicks then this player won't float your boat.
It looks like Sony has something new and improved up its sleeve: the NW-HD5, a tiny 20GB audio player that is the successor to the less-than-successful NW-HD1, NW-HD2 and NW-HD3. (Sidebar: according to a DAPReview member, 4 is associated with death Japan, so that's why it isn't the NW-HD4).
In any case, Sony may finally have a winner on its hands. The NW-HD5 is signficantly smaller than the iPod, measuring just 3.5"x2.6"x0.56" and 4.8oz, compared with the current 20GB iPod at 4.1"x2.4"x 0.57" and 5.6oz. Battery life is reported to range into 30 hours, compared with the iPod's 12 hour charge.
It appears that the NW-HD5 will be released some time in May with a retail price of around US$375, which is quite a bit higher than the 20GB iPod's $299 retail price. Also, there appear to be 3 color choices: red, black and white.
AV Watch (machine translated) of Japan has several pics of the NW-HD5, including this nice Apple/Sony size comparison.
The ever-industrious worker bees over at iPodLounge have a new 2005 Buyer's Guide for all things iPod. It covers just about everything: which iPod might be the right choice for a first-timer, lotsa iPod accessory review and a look at upcoming iPod paraphenalia.
Engadget does its thing with a new iRiver H10 review. They said:
iRiver's H10 5GB portable audio player has a lot to like, but there are a few flaws that were deal-breakers for us. In the end, we're returning this item, though the positive features may make the issues with this unit worth it for some.
However, note that the more serious cons that the list for the H10 have been fixed by the recent v2.0 firmware update, so take those negatives with a grain of salt.
The all-things-iPod guys at iPodlounge have written up their review of the newly release iPod Camera Connector. If (and only if) you have an iPod Photo, the Camera Connector will let you import photos directly from a digital camera (but not another iPod Photo). The verdict:
Overall, the iPod Camera Connector is a suitably inexpensive and simple way for digital photographers to transfer to and view their pictures on an iPod photo. It remedies the biggest single complaint that early iPod photo purchasers (and potential purchasers) had about Apple's newest iPod, and though it is technically more powerful because it's doing more with the photos it imports, it preserves the slow overall transfer times of the photo transfer peripherals we've previously tested. On balance, serious photographers will like some of its features, but because of the long transfer times and battery issues will probably continue not to view the iPod photo as a legitimate alternative to a dedicated hard disk-based photo vault.