digital audio player

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  • iPod has new role as educational tool

    by 
    Evan Blass
    Evan Blass
    05.25.2006

    Children will soon have a compelling new argument when begging their parents for an iPod, as the music, movie, and audio book player is about to take on a new role: educational tool. Pearson Education has just announced plans to release downloadable study guides (for use with Pearson texts, naturally) and audible review notes for exam preparation that may convince even the strictest parents to acquiesce and let the little white trojan horse into their homes. Not content with just the youth market, Pearson also revealed that it has purchased Apple's PowerSchool student information system, which is used by teachers and administrators to track student progress. No word yet on when kids can start using the "I'm studying!" excuse when told to take off their headphones in class.

  • iRiver Clix review roundup

    by 
    Evan Blass
    Evan Blass
    05.24.2006

    If you like to buy products described by seasoned reviewers as "very good," "great," and "excellent," then you'll certainly want to check out iRiver's 2GB Clix DAP if you're in the market for a player that screams "iDon't." Everyone who's gotten his/her hands on iRiver's rebrand of followup to the U10 seems to be in love with the little thing, citing audio that's both accurate and loud, easy-to-use, intuitive controls and interface, its crisp, clear screen, a plethora of options for photo viewing, and even good video playback despite a maximum of 15fps. Other nice touches include relatively high bit-rate options for in-line, voice, or FM recording, a good selection of digital equalizer presets, and better-than-average earbud headphones included in the box. Out of all the reviews that we've seen, the only major knocks on this $200 player are for its use of MTP (as opposed to UMS) file transfers and its supposedly short battery life (at least compared to the U10), although PCMag managed to squeeze a respectable 27 hours out of their Clix in testing.Read- PCMagRead- Anything But iPodRead- Cnet

  • iRiver's future: WiBro gaming or bust

    by 
    Marc Perton
    Marc Perton
    05.23.2006

    We have a soft spot for some of iRiver's digital media players, even if they've largely gotten lost in a crowded marketplace. But we may not be seeing too many new models from the company. Faced with the evaporation of its market share, both at home in Korea and in the crucial US marketplace, iRiver is attempting to remake itself as a vendor of portable WiBro gaming consoles. The transition is likely to be a bumpy one. Although iRiver showed off its first gaming console, the G10 (now renamed the Wing), several months ago, that model continues to face delays, and is now expected to show up no sooner than the end of the year, and then, in all likelihood, only in Korea. Sure, the Wing has some tasty features, including a 4-inch LCD, compatibility with most common audio and video formats, WiFi, WiBro and 6GB NAND flash memory. But at an initial price of about $315, it'll be competing directly against dozens of cheaper Korean DMB PMPs, hard drive-equipped players from vendors like Apple and Creative, and gaming consoles like the DS Lite, which will be on the market in Korea well before the end of the year, at a price well below $315. Still, iRiver probably has little choice but to try something drastic: the company's sales have plummeted from close to $1 billion two years ago to just $39 million in the first quarter of this year. We'll be sure to check out the Wing -- and, in the meantime, we'll be on the lookout for fire sale pricing on the Clix. Read - iRiver's strategyRead - G10 specsRead - Wing delays (sub reqd)

  • XM will "vigorously defend" Innos against industry suit

    by 
    Evan Blass
    Evan Blass
    05.19.2006

    XM is firing back against the recording industry's lawsuit over the Pioneer Inno's ability to temporarily store copyrighted material, stating rather boldly in an open letter to its customers that "we will vigorously defend these radios and your right to enjoy them in court and before Congress, and we expect to win." Claiming that the record labels "don't get it," XM argues that consumers have always been free to tape over-the-air content from a variety of sources, provided that they restrict those recordings to personal use. What's more, the Inno doesn't even let you transfer recorded content to other devices, and deletes all of your tunes if you drop your XM subscription, so it's already much more restrictive than the recording devices faced by TV and terrestrial radio broadcasters. Instead of actually expecting XM to pay $150,000 for each song recorded by Inno users (which would probably amount to at least several billion dollars), it's more likely that the music industry is using this suit to coax XM into joining rival Sirius in coughing up additional licensing fees. Also, a note to XM PR: despite your suggestion that the record labels are attacking sat radio owners at the expense of a war on the "real" pirates, we think that the industry is both well-prepared and well-equipped for a multi-front conflict.[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]

  • Mitsubishi i (eye) Play car for iPod nano fans

    by 
    Marc Perton
    Marc Perton
    05.17.2006

    We've seen big iPod cases, small iPod cases, cheap ones and expensive ones. But at about $15,000, with seating for four, the Play edition of Mitsubishi's i (eye) Car has to be one of the most expensive and biggest iPod cases we've ever seen. Eschewing the typical dock-based iPod/car integration scheme, the car includes a dash-based slot designed specifically for the iPod nano. And, if you want your case, er, car to truly match your nano, you can get it in white, for a mere $190 more. Considering that Apple wants about $150 to paint a MacBook black, that may not be such a bad deal. As long as it includes a scratch proof coating, that is.

  • MobiBlu Cube 2 gets specs, pricing

    by 
    Evan Blass
    Evan Blass
    05.16.2006

    Diminutive DAP manufacturer MobiBlu has just released the specs for their latest miniature wonder, the 24 x 24 x 24-millimeter Cube 2, which improves upon its predecessor by letting you view photos on a thumbnail-sized, 64 x 48 pixel OLED display. Unfortunately for our love of machine translation, the Korean Cube 2 website lumped all the specs into an un-translatable image, but the sprinkling of English words indicate that there's not much more to this model than we already knew. Coming in 512MB and 1GB flavors, the 18-gram player features MP3, WMA, and OGG music file support, direct recording from the FM tuner, crossfading between tracks, USB mass storage capabilities, and the obligatory digital equalizer settings, plus the ability to hang it from your ear. Pricing is set at $154 and $192 for the half- and full-gig versions, respectively, but there's no word yet on when we'll be seeing this new model 'round these parts.[Via DAPreview]

  • NTI Comodo's NP-950 DAP with in-dock VoIP and DJ functions

    by 
    Evan Blass
    Evan Blass
    05.11.2006

    Talk about a convergence device-- not only does NTI Comodo's new NP-950 digital audio player perform the obligatory playback and recording functions, it can even act as a VoIP "handset" or broadcast tunes DJ-style over the Internet when docked in its USB cradle. Being marketed as the "Universal MP3 Player" in conjunction with OpenCast, this model is available in 512MB or 1GB flavors and supports MP3, WMA, ASF, and WAV audio tracks, WMV and AMV video files or JPEG/BMP/GIF photos on its 1.5-inch LCD, as well as English, Korean, Japanese, or Chinese eBooks. We're not really sure exactly who's being targeted with this unit -- whose price and release date are unknown -- since you can't store all that much content on it, and the chat/broadcast features seem more gimmicky than useful.

  • Cowon's 4GB iAudio6 DAP reviewed

    by 
    Evan Blass
    Evan Blass
    05.02.2006

    Cowon's gotten some rather mixed reviews in the past for their line of iAudio DAPs, but the outlook seems mostly positive for the upcoming hard drive-based iAudio6, with Anything But iPod finding very few flaws in the diminutive player's design, features, or performance. Especially impressive is the 1.3-inch OLED screen, which gets high marks for both color depth and clarity -- ABi calls it "simply brilliant" -- and makes watching XviD-encoded movies almost bearable on such a small display. The iAudio6, which we first spotted at CES, can handle up to 4GB of MP3, WMA, OGG, FLAC, or WAV-encoded tracks on its .85-inch drive, but it's the drive that leads to one of the few knocks on this model, which is a noticeable lag time between operations. Other nice features include USB host capability for device-to-device file transfer with other UMS-enabled hardware, software that automatically tags certain tunes with the corresponding lyrics, line-in and voice recording, and surprisingly powerful output that can drive even large headphones. If you don't mind a bit of a delay when recording or changing tracks, or a bit of eye strain when watching your flicks, then the iAudio6 sounds like it'll make for a solid purchase whenever it becomes available Stateside.[Thanks, James]

  • Kane Kramer: "world's biggest failure" for losing DAP patents

    by 
    Evan Blass
    Evan Blass
    04.20.2006

    We thought the matter had been resolved earlier today when our President credited the government with developing the technology that led to the iPod-filled world we live in today, but now another claimant has come forward in an attempt to recoup his "rightful share" of a billion dollar DAP market he may have helped create. British inventor and furniture shop manager Kane Kramer is currently consulting lawyers to see what, if any, recourse he has to enforce patents he filed in 1981 for an iPod-like device but which he subsequently lost control of due to reported boardroom coup. The patents, which describe a  three-and-a-half-minute-capacity digital audio player with a screen and central navigation controls, eventually became part of the public domain after Kramer's company dissolved and he was unable to raise the money required for renewing them across 120 countries. Kramer, who is most definitely aware of the riches he lost out on, says that the runaway success of iPods specifically and DAPs in general surely makes him "the world's biggest failure."

  • Teclast's other "dual core" DAP, the T19

    by 
    Evan Blass
    Evan Blass
    04.18.2006

    We see a lot of digital audio players pass through here, but Teclast is one of the first manufacturers we've seen to incorporate a separate processor for audio decoding. Just weeks after we spotted their first so-called "dual core" DAP, the C150, comes another PDA-esque model called the T19, which has the same dedicated Wolfson WM8750 decoding chip as the "C" but adds a 1GB option into the mix. Besides MP3 playback, the "T" features MPEG-1 video support, and sports extras such as an FM tuner, line-in recording and voice recording, along with an eBook reader, dictionary, and calendar. Probably only available in China for the time being, the T19 costs 77 or 90 dollars worth of yuan for the 512MB and 1GB versions, respectively.[Thanks, lionc]