Cd Burners When the very first MP3/CD players arrived at MP3.com last year, we fell in love. This invention that shuttled hundred-song CDs around – CDs that previously would only play on other computers – was pretty darn exciting to geeks like us. So excited, in fact, that we overlooked that half the players didn’t work, and the rest lacked the barest features anyone would ask for. The honeymoon didn’t last long. One look at all the CD burners dotting the suburban countryside indicated the hunger for a quality player was too strong for these half-baked first generation players to satisfy. But while major corporations like RCA and Sony were tripping over their feet trying to get a product out the door, it was Rio that stepped in and delivered the ready-for-prime-time player everyone has been waiting for: the RioVolt.
This is a good-looking, very likable player that’s generous with functionality and not too pricey. (And you won’t find that sentence in too many other reviews of MP3 hardware.) In addition to standard audio CDs, the RioVolt will play CD-Rs and CD-RWs burned with MP3s on them. It’s also the only MP3/CD player that supports CDs burned with WMA files. The RioVolt has upgradeable firmware, which keeps your investment from becoming obsolete. Rio will offer bug fixes and feature enhancements on their web site that RioVolt owners can download, burn onto a CD, and insert to update their player.
To help navigate through songs, there’s a Navi button for skipping through the folders on a CD, and a 10+ button, which jumps ahead 10 tracks. The backlit LCD display shows scrolling song information, but we wouldn’t mind seeing even more. The lower third of the display is taken up with a cool-but-gets-old-quick animated dancer. Perhaps a firmware upgrade will give the option to kill her off? The display may be irrelevant, though. Thanks to a handy (but tiny) remote, this player will spend most of its time tucked away in pockets.
The eight-function remote controls all the necessary functions. (Note: those with chubby fingers might need a pencil to hit their target.) The player comes with a nice black carrying case with one curious quirk: You have to take off your belt in order to loop it through. Once looped in there, you’ll be happy to know the RioVolt has very impressive shock resistance, featuring up to 120 seconds of buffering for digital audio and your choice of 10 or 40 seconds for regular CDs. So, while you’re skipping around town, your CD won’t be. When it comes to battery life, the player has the stamina of a track star.
Two AA batteries will stretches well beyond 10 hours. And physically, it’s beautiful and well-designed–about as compact as a CD-based player can be. In all, the RioVolt is not perfect, but it has really solidified Rio’s reputation as a dependable provider of quality digital audio hardware. And unlike many products we review, this one is actually available today. (You just have to find a retailer who has one in stock!) Technology.