SonicBlue Rio 800
Review The Rio 800 is the latest player from Diamond/S3/SonicBlue or whatever it's calling itself now. Similar in size and appearance to the 600, the 800 is the top-of-the-range model with added bells and whistles.
It comes with 64MB of RAM (roughly two hours' worth of music), uses the same backpack system as the 600 and upgrades are as easy as changing the battery on a mobile phone. In this case the backpack incorporates a rechargeable battery, so you no longer have to splash out on AA batteries.
A built-in recording facility allows you to make voice notes on the move. The quality isn't spectacular, and you do have to speak fairly close to the microphone for sound to be picked up, but for voice memos it's fine. Recordings can be uploaded to a PC.
The Rio 800's remote control is a nice touch. Although this device is basic in operation, providing play/pause, stop, forward, back and volume, it does the job. An LCD display would have been nice, if not strictly necessary.
The main thing that lets the Rio down is the bundled software used to transfer tracks onto the device. Before you can move your tunes you must add them to a database, rather than point to where they are on the hard drive. After you've added a few songs it becomes hard to manage, especially if you load up an entire album.
The Rio has come a long way from its origin as a geek's plaything slowly entering the consumer space. The hardware is pretty much there, offering the functionality and ease of use provided by most portable music devices. The software side still needs work, but it's usable nonetheless. ®
Contact: 0118 944 4477
Internal memory: 64MB
Other extras: MP3 and WMA support; future codec support via software upgrade; upgrades via backpacks; rechargable battery; AC adaptor; USB; Rioport software.
This review is taken from the July 2001 issue. All details correct at time of publication.
Copyright © 2001, IDG. All rights reserved.