Thursday, 09 September 2004

I finally did it - I bought an MP3 player. Yes, my name is Greg and until today, I was a geek without an MP3 player.

My choice of weapons? The just-released and sparsely-available Rio Carbon 5GB. And my first impression, after using it for a couple hours this evening, is that this thing is sweet:

  • 5GB Seagate compact-flash type hard drive (more on this later)
  • Voice recorder capability (with built-in mic - I need this)
  • MP3 (80 hours) and WMA (160 hours)
  • 20-hour lithium-ion rechargable battery
  • Nice controls on the edges and face
  • USB 2.0 data interface (charges from USB too)
  • Impressive audio clarity and quality
  • It's freakin' thin and compact (smallest 5GB unit around)
  • Speaks Windows and Mac
  • Plays well with (to which I am now addicted, thanks Chris)
  • Cool bonus sample recordings out of the box (Augean Stables is cool, so is Backyard Galaxy)

These devices are not exactly readily available or easy to find. Last night I missed dinner while I went looking for one at the Best Buy store closest to where I work (in Beaverton, a suburb of Portland, Oregon). Not a single one in stock. So today I logged onto and found they were already completely out of stock there, too. But a friendly link on the site helped me discover that the Best Buy store in Clackamas (which is on the other side of the city) had one in stock. I called them and confirmed (they give you a link to a printable page with phone numbers, a map and driving directions nice!), then headed across town in evening traffic. Success!

While I have never owned my own dedicated MP3 player device, I have used a number of different kinds, and have some idea about what works well and what doesn't. So, I have something on which to base my opinion of the Carbon.

It's nice. About as small as a credit card on its face, overall I think it's just a little smaller than the iPod mini, and it has 25% more storage in it - not a bad setup. This thing will fit in any pocket easily, comes with a little case to keep the scratch monster away, and has decent quality earbuds in the package, too. Audio quality is great. I'll add a little FM transmitter and be listening to audible books and other recordings while I'm on my work commute.

What's all this about cannibals???

Well, the thing is, my original intent was not to buy the Carbon to use as an MP3 player. My plan was to buy it, bust it wide open, and cannibalize the 5GB CF micro hard drive for use in my digital camera. Music was not on my mind - pictures were. But once I saw the thing, realized how cool and compact it was, and reached a conclusion that /me without an MP3 player in 2004 was tantamount to sacrilege or mortal sin, well... I decided I had to buy the Carbon and keep it in it's native state, for use just as it was intended.

So I bought two. :-)

I justified the extra expenditure (lamely) with the fact that I just got an unexpected check for something I had completely forgotten about, the amount of which almost exactly covered the cost of the second unit. Hey - I still want 5GB of storage in my camera - at 6 megapixels, having 5GB onboard storage is just about right!

But for now, I am having so much fun with the MP3 player, the cannibalism party will have to wait. When I get around to ripping the second unit apart, I'll post about that here, too. I'll be trying to do it in a way that will allow me to stick a 512MB compact flash card back in the Rio though, in place of the transplanted hard drive, so it can still be used for music purposes. Chances are I'll need a tube of super glue (and it's also entirely possible the hard drive won't work in my camera, but I am told its worked for others), but that's fine. ;-)

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Friday, 10 September 2004 03:05:20 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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