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Portables Media Music Hardware

Rio Karma User Review 393

Posted by timothy
from the cute-and-musical dept.
FuzzyBad-Mofo writes "On 8/24/2004, I took the plunge and bought a Rio Karma digital music player. My needs were simple: Decent storage capacity, Linux friendly, and Ogg Vorbis compatible. The Karma has a generous 20 GB capacity, decent battery life, is OS-agnostic, and plays a wide variety of file formats, including Ogg." Read on for the rest of FuzzyBad-Mofo's review.

Despite living in an urban area, I had a little trouble tracking down a retailer with the Karma in stock. Best Buy was sold out, but Circuit City had them (for full price, boo hiss). I was impressed with the solid feel of the device, and promptly started setting it up. Since I currently only have Linux machines at home, the included software was useless. Fortunately, the Karma also includes Ethernet connectivity through the docking cradle. In minutes the cradle was connected to my Linksys router and a static IP assigned using the Karma's joystick interface (not fun).

Once this was done, I connected via web browser to the Karma's IP address and was greeted with a nice splash page, and a couple of links to download the Java-based transfer software and to visit Rio's Karma page. I initially had trouble with the transfer software, but eventually found the developer's site on the internet; he has improved the software greatly from the version that ships with the Karma.

The docking cradle also has stereo line-level RCA ports, which is nice for integration with a home stereo. I ended up buying a 20' CAT-5 cable to give my Karma a permanent home next to the stereo. It's pretty wonderful to select 4 hours of random music for the evening, and not have to worry about changing CDs. Later, I also bought an RF adapter for use in the car, which works by broadcasting on an FM frequency you simply tune into.

The Karma is not bad to walk around with either. It is a little bulky, and I would prefer a narrower body, but it fits ok in a loose-fitting pants or jacket pocket. As with any hard-drive based player, jogging/running/biking with it is probably not a good idea.

Lockups: the Karma has taken a lot of flak for locking up, and I can't say that it's not justified. The player has locked once when I was loading music on it, in which case I simply reset with a bent paper clip and it was good to go. However, several days ago I was walking with it, attempted to change songs midstride, and it locked hard. Since I was on my way to work with no paperclip in sight (and the unit won't turn off when it locks up), the hard drive spun and seeked for 40 minutes until I got in the office. At that point, the unit was warm to the touch and had drained half the battery. After reset, the unit would not power up properly. Going into rescue mode showed that it was having trouble reading the disk. (crap!) After reading some message boards where others have experienced similar problems, I decided that I had little to lose and smacked it flat down on the desk. The Karma made a little grinding noise and booted up! It has worked perfectly since then, but I'm somewhat concerned about my purchase. Rio only offers a three-month warranty by default, so I would recommend going with an extended warranty if you decide to purchase a Karma.

Scary lockups aside, this has been a great little player. I believe it is Rio's first HDD-based player, and I'm looking forward to seeing future revisions of the Karma.


Thanks to FuzzyBad-MoFo for the review!

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Rio Karma User Review

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  • by erick99 (743982) <homerun@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:32AM (#10504194)
    After reading the review I don't know that I want one of these. The reviewer discusses the negatives: size, lockups, ect. but does not really go into the upside of owning one of these.
    • by ratsnapple tea (686697) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:33AM (#10504201)
      But it plays OGG, man! OGG!
      • so do most of iRivers players
      • by primal39 (409681) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @01:33PM (#10505619)
        Having owned one of these devices since last christmas, let me offer my own two cents:

        The battery life is awesome. I get an easy 12 hours of run time out of my karma between charges.

        The built-in DJ funtion is unparalled. The ability to generate random playlists, or playlists based upon id3 criteria (such as decade, genre), playlists based on most listened to, least listened to, not recently listened to, etc.. all from the player itself just blows away all the competition.

        The network integration is a nice feature, which the OP does mention. I also think that having lite-yet-fully-function java version of the software built into the player is a great and useful add on (simply browse to the ip and you can download the software right from the Karma). Plus, the included dock does this cool pulse thing when the karma is docked :-)

        The price point on this thing is just right. I got mine on sale for $280 last christmas, while the MSRP is a little higher is still beats the price of the ipod at the same capacity (20 GB)

        Audio format support: This thing supports ogg, mp3, wav, flac, and probably more that I am too lazy to go look up.

        I do agree that the player is a little bulky, at least in the dimension of width. Were it a little narrower I would say that it is perfect, but it is nowhere near as unwieldy as was my first hd-based player, the Archos Multimedia Jukebox 20.

    • Negative karma, eh?
    • by lukewarmfusion (726141) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:41AM (#10504298) Homepage Journal
      I agree. If you want it to work as a stereo appliance mp3 server, that's one thing. But I wouldn't expect to take that with me as a portable. One or the other, maybe.

      Portable player? Go with either a low-storage and inexpensive Creative USB player or a high-storage and expensive iPod. Anything in between fails to impress me.

      MP3 server for your home stereo? Slap an 80GB drive into an old box with your favorite flavor of OS and remote connect. It's not that hard; my non-geek brother did this for his house (he's a college senior) and it's impressed the hell out of their party guests.
      • by garcia (6573) * on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:56AM (#10504451) Homepage
        MP3 server for your home stereo? Slap an 80GB drive into an old box with your favorite flavor of OS and remote connect. It's not that hard; my non-geek brother did this for his house (he's a college senior) and it's impressed the hell out of their party guests.

        Or use an old laptop and a wireless card. Share the MP3s out from the network. That's what we did. I don't ever think that our party guests were "impressed" though. It was just part of being in college and having a friend that was a computer dork.

        Portable player? Go with either a low-storage and inexpensive Creative USB player or a high-storage and expensive iPod. Anything in between fails to impress me.

        Inexpensive/low storage = CD MP3 player. Cheap ($45 or less), portable, and no worries about a hard drive getting owned. It usually has more storage space than flash-based players and it's a lot easier to add more songs when the storage runs out.
        • Good call on the CD MP3 player.

          As for impressing party guests, most of them have seen the trouble you get when you have a bunch of strangers and a lot of easy to lift equipment. No CDs lying around, no laptop to grab. What's impressive is when he's standing behind the bar and whips out the laptop (which he physically secures under the bar) to change the music. People just love that.
        • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @12:26PM (#10504755) Homepage Journal
          Impressing one's party guests takes considerably more work than that. Back in the day one of my housemates (I didn't live there then actually, I moved in later) paid one of my friends to make him a little serial-controlled infrared remote, this was before the days of widespread PDAs and that same friend later went on to make the best and most popular infrared remote software for the palmpilot, OmniRemote. Anyway the remote controlled a 100 disc pioneer CD jukebox that was patched into the stereo system, and this housemate and I developed a filemaker pro application that would talk to the remote and program the jukebox 32 tracks or so at a time. Now THAT impressed people. These days you can accomplish the same thing much more easily by just MP3ing everything and playing the mp3s from a web interface.
    • by ProfaneBaby (821276) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:51AM (#10504404)
      I own one of these little devices, and I'm very unhappy with the harddrive performance. Not only does it suck battery life while playing, the drive performance seems to suffer after a while - I can't tell if it's fragmentation from being nearly full, or running while the battery slowly drains is causing hardware failures. The sound, though, remains decent. The multiple formats are nice. The software is actually quite good. It's not the type of player where you throw it out after you buy it because it's garbage, but you may want to think carefully before purchasing it.
    • by LiberalApplication (570878) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:54AM (#10504432)
      Regarding the lockups, this is a pretty well known issue, and my Karma itself has locked up a few times, but the whack-and-smack solution is just as well known and is surprisingly effective. It's mentioned here:

      http://forums-riovolution.com/index.php?showtopic= 4109 [forums-riovolution.com]

      Basically, you have to whack the unit hard enough that it turns itself off and restarts. Sure, it's unsettling and even embarassing if you have to sit there in a rush-hour subway train spanking a lump of plastic for ten minutes, but it works. And the strangest part of it all: each time you spank it into submission, it will be a significantly longer period of time before it crashes again. After the fourth and last spanking session, it hasn't locked up once in the past five months.

      As for the upside, it has several nice features. The author of the review failed to mention one of the highlights of the Karma-dock's ethernet jack - that it can be used to communicate with any computer that can run Java apps. This turns out to be great, because while the management software can only be installed on windows machines, the Java applet that the Karma serves up via HTTP can be run on Linux and OSX machines. When I get into the office (which is a primarily Mac environment), I just drop it into its cradle, have it DHCP-obtain an IP address (an automatic procedure), fire up the applet from my Power Mac, and I'm free to manage it.

      On the usability side, I've been extremely pleased with the Karma. I never quite understood why all of the manufacturers have banded behind Apple's design of placing the display above the main control cluster. It results in the center of gravity being above your hand, making the device much more likely to slip or be knocked out of your grasp. On the Karma, the controls are placed above the display, so that your thumb wraps around the Karma's upper edge and the entirety of its mass is cradled in the palm of your hand. It might look counterintuitive, but I think that's largely because all of the other players out there have the scheme reversed.

      The firmware is nice, with three user-adjustable 3-band EQ settings slots that you can flip through to best suit the genre of music you're listening to at the time. The main "menu" button on its face can be customized to drop you at one of several menu levels. For example, if you tend to select music by genre, the main menu button can be set to take you right there instead of to the root level menu. The GUI is consistently themed throughout, and while not as minimal as the iPod's, is not aesthetically offensive. One feature I found very cute was the ability to set the play screen (which you'll be looking at 90% of the time) to be dominated by a pair of mostly useless but amusingly retro-styled VU meters. Unlike the iPod, the Karma *IS* capable of gapless playback, which is great if you listen to a lot of mixed compilations or live performances.

      I have only two gripes personally with the unit:
      1) The setting for "shuffle"/"normal" playback is buried several levels deep in the menu system.
      2) The unit has a 4pin jack next to its headphone jack which is obviously intended for an in-line remote control, but no such item exists. Pooh.

      HTH in your buying decisions.

      • I have one too... (Score:5, Informative)

        by BLKMGK (34057) <morejunk4me@noSpAM.hotmail.com> on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @12:17PM (#10504664) Homepage Journal
        I have one and it's not a firmware issue with the lockups near as I can tell - it's vibration! I have a riding mower, if I take my Karma on that thing for evena short mowing session it locks up. It cannot be shut off, it makes awful sounds, and you have to use the paperclip thing to shut it off. Just as the reviewer discovered - it will not boot up properly afterwards! The solution, as he discovered, is to smack it. I do this on edge in an attempt to help spin the drives as I believe the heads are somehow stuck. Sure enough this fixes it! So far I've only had to do this 2 or 3 times thankfully!

        That said - the unit is terrific when it's not being bounced around or vibrated. I use it on travel in airplanes and hooked to my stereo in the garage in it's cradle. Battery life is excellent on plane rides and in my garage I've probably put a couple hundred hours worth of playing into it. I've not yet come close to filling it's drive up but have also not taken much time slecting music (I've got over 130Gig). I do NOT like the interface software to the device, it's not a simple drive letter that I can copy music over to thank you RIAA. If it were I'd have already put much more music on it I'm sure. The software isn't bad, it's just not that great and it insists on indexing my music first which with over 100Gigs takes FOREVER and has caused the software to fail a time or two. My solution is to point it at a folder with only the music I want to transfer over - this multi-step process is why I have so little (about 2gig) music on it .

        I've not looked lately for software updates or firmware upgrades but their update process isn't too bad in my experience. What I'd REALLY like, but haven't found, is a WEB interface that would allow me to remotely control the device over the network. Perhaps I'm blind but it seems to me such an interface would be a really good idea considering the silly thing is IP enabled. I've just nto spent too much time loking and havespent more time listening to it I guess (lol). If anyone has found software like this or can point out a feature I've overlooked that allows this I'm all ears!
      • by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @12:47PM (#10504964) Homepage
        Let me get this straight: the Rio Karma, a device whose warranty is a mere 90 days long, requires regular whacks in order to work? Wow, now that's a great combination--the quality is so bad the manufacturer won't even guarantee it will work six months from now, and you have to smack it around to make it even last that long.

        The iPod is expensive and it is missing some features, but at least there's a reasonable confidence that a buyer will get at least a years worth of use out of it. The Rio may do gapless playback when it's new, but it seems owners can expect an extended and very quiet gap in its playback not too long after purchase.

      • by MacGod (320762) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @12:57PM (#10505136)

        Sure, it's unsettling and even embarassing if you have to sit there in a rush-hour subway train spanking a lump of plastic for ten minutes... each time you spank it into submission, it will be a significantly longer period of time before it crashes again. After the fourth and last spanking session, it hasn't locked up once in the past five months.

        So many jokes, so little time

      • by rho (6063) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @02:13PM (#10506036) Homepage Journal
        Basically, you have to whack the unit hard enough that it turns itself off and restarts. Sure, it's unsettling and even embarassing if you have to sit there in a rush-hour subway train spanking a lump of plastic for ten minutes, but it works.

        Jesus Christ on a popsicle stick... what part of "totally stupid" can you not discern from this scenario? Whacking your hardware is NOT, repeat NOT an acceptable option while troubleshooting. Apple tried this with the Apple III and (rightly) got reamed for it. Almost anybody between the ages of 25 and 35 still has active muscle memory for blowing on an NES 8-bit cart, slamming it into the console, and then whacking the side in order to play Mario Bros. That's not because the 8-bit NES was an aerobic device--that's because the device and the design was a piece of shit.

        In case somebody is too slow to follow this, here's a Cochran-esque mnemonic--"If you have to hit, it's a piece of shit."

        Slashdot reviews are a total joke. Any sane reviewer would have gotten to the lockup and dropped the review score by a third. When they discover it's a fairly widespread problem, they'd register riokarmasdirtysecret.com and drop the score to a third. When they found out about the generally accepted solution to the problem (donkey-punching a $250 device with a minature hard drive), the score drops to "Only Fools and Degenerates With Poor Genes Buy This". In fact, most reviewers would have turned the review into a grand joke, offering alternative uses for the piece of junk hardware that involve hockey sticks, slingshots or gay porn stars.

        I have only two gripes personally with the unit:

        Jesus Christ on a unicycle, I think "I occasionaly have to beat the shit out of it to keep it working" would top the fucking list. Instead, there's only "an unused jack" and "it's hard to shuffle songs" make the cut. Please don't breed, KTHXBYE.

        • +1 "Fuckin' A" (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dtfarmer (548183)
          damn, I wish I had mod points...

          I can't believe how many posts there are at +5 Insightful and +5 Interesting talking about how the owner has had the same problem and whacking their expensive hard drive based player really helps. We used to have monitors with green guns going out that when you whacked them they would come back on, but eventually the gun would stop firing again, and you'd be left with a pinkish screen. Of course, maybe if I tried to sell them here on slashdot to a Rio owner.... I could even
        • That's hilarious! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by LiberalApplication (570878) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @06:11PM (#10508690)
          ...really. Your reply contained hockey sticks, gay porn stars, and Jesus Christ on a unicycle. That's humor there.

          ...but bear in mind that like many buyers, I wasn't aware of the issues when I first made the purchase. My position is that of, "well, I already paid for it, so here's my opinion on the device over-all". And the truth is that it suits me just fine, despite the fact that my heart sank when it froze for the first time. Since a few months back though, I haven't had a single problem with it. I honestly don't know if the issues have since been resolved over at Rio.

          That this alone should be reason for me to be sterilized makes me wonder how many people you must tell every day to not breed. Perhaps yours is a world inhabited by people of a much higher calibre than ours. If that's the case, then I envy you deeply. But seriously though, it was a funny read.

      • WTF, you guys must REALLY love OGG and Gapless playback if you're willing to even entertain slamming a HD based device down on a hard surface to get it to start working as a valid fix.

        Can you say Head Crash?

        I'm sorry, but to me having to do that to something you've just paid almost 3 bills for just screams INTRINSIC DESIGN FLAW and is absolutely unacceptable...even if it plays OGG and Gapless.

        I'll stay w/ my 20 GB 4G iPod thanks and my iPod Mini thanks. Both have NEVER frozen up just from being jostl

      • Something to note on the subject of java apps is that the author of the java interface publishes updates to the java manager software regularly on one of the java projects on sun, as well as several other useful pieces of software, one of which lets you STREAM music from the karma while its docked to an ethernet connection. This to me is a killer feature.

        there are definitely some downsides to it. I haven't had that many problems with lockups since i updated to the latest firmware, but they are present.
    • by radish (98371) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:55AM (#10504437) Homepage
      The plus sides:

      * Battery life (16 hours with mp3, 12 with Vorbis)
      * Gapless playback. This is HUGE for a lot of people. The Karma is the ONLY HD based player which does gapless playback properly. It's the main reason I have one (and would never buy an iPod).
      * Sound quality. Measurably better than iPod, also has fully adjustable 5 band parametric EQ.
      * RioDJ. This feature allows you to choose specific types of tracks (e.g. stuff I haven't played recently) and a duration, and it will build a playlist on the fly.
      * Firmware. Very flexible operation, tons of options (geek friendly!), excellent support from devs on the boards.
      * Ethernet on the dock. Allows use with any platform which supports ethernet & java. So Windows, Linux, OSX, BSD etc.
      * Formats. Vorbis, FLAC, mp3, wma etc.

      There's more, but that's what stands out to me. I bought this thing nearly a year ago (as an aside - why a review now for a player which is pretty much at EOL?) and it's served me very well with no problems at all. The sound quality is great, the interface is easy to use and the gapless playback means I can finally listen to mix & live albums without the fsking pauses.

      • The Karma is the ONLY HD based player which does gapless playback properly. It's the main reason I have one (and would never buy an iPod).

        wrong. the archos jukebox with the free, open source rockbox [rockbox.haxx.se] firmware has supported gapless playback for years.

        apple and most car mp3 head unit manufacturers can't figure this out. it is a show stopper for me.

        the archos doesn't have a problem with not turning off - the opposite, it turns off unexpectedly sometimes. similar problem, but doesn't require smacking it ha

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @12:04PM (#10504520)
      Exactly. Further, what are you going to hear from a lot of the people who complained about the iPod's battery being hard to replace? This:

      "The hard drive doesn't lock up that often and, anyway, banging it against your desk to get it to work is just fine. Hasn't broken mine yet. See! And... and it plays ogg!"

      Uh, yeah. Can you imagine advocating Linux if it were this crippled? "Every so often, eh-heh-heh, /proc disappears. But that's OK - all you need to do is `cat /dev/urandom > /proc' and it magically works again! Weird."
    • What baffles me is how a company can sell something that apparently suffers from serious quality control problems such as lockups. I checked out the cnet user comments and quite a few had flaky units too.

      About three years ago, a friend and I both bought a Rio600 player (128 MB flash), and both of them had serious problems with lockups and corruption. We read about some battery problems that were supposedly corrected, but it didn't seem like they were fixed. Songs would occasionally playback with short, hi

  • by jargoone (166102) * on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:33AM (#10504203)
    This is a terrible "review"! You paid full price (your own fault), and it was a pain to enter the IP address. Yeah, it has a dock. You had problems with the OS, but didn't mention any firmware upgrades that might help solve the problem. You did something stupid that could have broken it. Great.

    What about the sound quality? Battery life? User interface? Build quality? Most importantly, given the audience: why would someone purchase this over an iPod? Those are the things we care about, not your anecdotal experience. This would be fine posted on a review site where more information is readily available, but it's certainly not destined for /.'s front page.

    P.S.: First on-topic post?
    • by erick99 (743982) <homerun@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:37AM (#10504250)
      I am surprised that he did not return it after having all of those problems and try something else. I can't imagine keeping something that locks up and continues to eat the batteries until you either jam a paper clip into it or slam it on a desk. I am amazed that someone would go through all of that and still want it!
    • by aceh0 (646013) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:41AM (#10504285)
      the red nipple is not bad for navigation but it is no iPod scroll wheel and it is not as intuitive. most of my friends who've used my ipod figured out how to use the thing within seconds (even the non-techy ones) while questions were always inadvertently asked about the karma. build quality / fragility is also something to be aware of. my ipod has survived a motorcycle crash and multiple trips down to the pavement from about waist height but the LCD on my friend's karma broke while it was in his pocket. he didnt fall, the pocket wasnt especially tight, nothing hit him. guess there was a bit of pressure on the screen and now it's hosed. he seemed to like it a lot while it was working though
      • Interesting. I've dropped my karma 3 times. The only damage is, after the thrid drop, the little wheel on the upper right hand corner no longer works. The thing still plays, with better quality than the iPod, I might add [audiosense.org]. The wheel, incase you don't know, really isn't a necesary control. Everything that can be done with the wheel can also be done with one button and the joystick doo-dad. My karma also bounces around it my backpack, which has been thrown several times into my car, on to my bedroom floo
      • by CreatureComfort (741652) * on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @01:02PM (#10505222)


        How well do you find the iPod works while you're on the motorcycle?

        I bought a CD/MP3 player with the longest skip protection I could find for listening to through my intercom receiver, but the vibrations of the bike at 50+ mph was too much for it. That was with it in my tank bag, as it was too large to fit comfortably in a jacket pocket. It just wouldn't play at freeway speeds.

        I replaced it with a SanDisk Cruzer 256 Mb USB key, with the Cruzer MP3 player. (Cost about $110 total, but I get a combination 256 MB true-keychain USB drive and flash based MP3 player that is instantly upgradable.) So far this has worked fine, both in the tank bag or it easily fits into a jaket pocket, but 256 Mb is still a bit limited for what I would like to carry around with me. Actually I should probably submit an actual review of it...

    • by Anonymous Coward
      What do you expect from a guy that bought a 20' CAT-5 cable?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      It's a great review! Switching songs can make it freeze hard, with the only "remedy" being to thwack it against your desk?! With enough people having this problem to make it common knowledge on the forums! (And don't tell me that I should always carry a paperclip. That's just silly.)

      After reading that, I'm not going to touch one of these things with a 10 foot pole (or even an 11' pole), and I'm a little bit curious as to what would motivate anyone to do so...

      "Oh yeah, that's my new
    • Yes, a terrible review. This is my list of "why I bought it over an iPod", from a previous post of mine. Note, I bought my Karma nearly a year ago (it's an old product) and if/when it dies I'll buy another - it works great for me.

      The plus sides:

      * Battery life (16 hours with mp3, 12 with Vorbis)

      * Gapless playback. This is HUGE for a lot of people. The Karma is the ONLY HD based player which does gapless playback properly. It's the main reason I have one (and would never buy an iPod).

      * Sound quality. Meas
    • Well, he comes right out and EXPLAINS why you'd buy this over an iPod - he only runs Linux. Last I checked, iPods weren't doing much of anything under Linux. Besides, iPods don't play Ogg, this does.

      His fault for buying full price...I got mine for $199. He mentions it "felt solid", and, well, it does.

      Don't know how you can complain about size: its no new-gen iPod, but it's comparable to the first generation size, and people didn't complain much about that. I carry it all over. Hell, its 1/4 the size
      • by Senjutsu (614542) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @12:21PM (#10504711)
        Well, he comes right out and EXPLAINS why you'd buy this over an iPod - he only runs Linux. Last I checked, iPods weren't doing much of anything under Linux.

        When [sourceforge.net] was the [gnu.org] last time [sourceforge.net] you [structbench.com] checked [sourceforge.net]?

        "It plays Oggs" doesn't exactly make up for the "It suffers from a well known and widespread flaw that forces the user to beat the crap out of it in hopes that it will correct itself and not die under the pummeling" angle.
      • by timster (32400) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @12:28PM (#10504779)
        the iPod works great under Linux. USB is plug-and-go since it's just a Mass Storage device. To load songs on you have to use a program to manage the database but that just runs in userspace. gtkpod is pretty full-featured and GNUpod is great for shell junkies.

        The thing does come formatted HFS+ but the included Windows software allows you to reformat it as FAT. Linux supports both though most people find it easier to use FAT. It's also possible to reformat it manually from Linux though that's a little bit tricky.

        Note that this is 3rd-gen iPods... previous models only supported Firewire and HFS+ so they were a little harder to use under Linux (but people did it anyway).
  • by karmaflux (148909) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:33AM (#10504209)
    The belief that, at our present level of knowledge, we cannot know whether or not an OS exists. Fair enough.
  • Alt review (Score:5, Funny)

    by sulli (195030) * on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:34AM (#10504222) Journal
    Karma: Terrible (mostly the sum of user experiences)
    • It's damn ugly and resembles a £10 stopwatch.

      I'm more than happy with my Cowon M3, it's just a shame they're bringing out the M5 next month, I want one!

      The only reason the iPod sells is it's the least fussy option, many of the other devices are just too rough around the edges or too quirky and ecentric. Come on, has nobody ever heard of interface design or egonomics?
  • ipod (Score:2, Interesting)

    by millahtime (710421)
    I think I'll stick with my ipod. Easy to setup and use. Gives me all the features I need (sure there are others i want). It is reliable. These articles keep me hapopy with the choice I made.
  • I'd like a linux-oriented product comparison article. iRiver vs iPod vs Rio Karma etc. And yes, audio fidelity, perhaps the most important feature, shouldn't be ignored.
  • by spacerodent (790183) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:37AM (#10504245)
    I bought a RIO nitrus and had it's hard drive fail within 2 weeks of purchase. I had it replaced 3 times over the next few months and none of the models lasted more than a month when all they did was ride in my back pack as I walked to class. Recently I bought one of the new Rio Forges and it also has problems. Despite being sold as a "sport" model it shuts down regularly during use and Rio refuses to admit any problem with the design despite several pages of experiences just like mine on their forums. I strongly discourage anyone from buying Rio products without an extended warrenty. Here is a good forums to read about Rio products: http://www.rioworld.org/yabbse/index.php?board=16
  • Rio Karma (Score:5, Informative)

    by lintocs (723324) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:38AM (#10504254)
    These things are crap... Everyone I know who bought one has returned it at least once because of the 1" HD "hard locking". One friend has been through 5 units so far, with the average lifespan being 7-10 days per unit.

    I haven't heard similar things about the iPod (anyone?), but I suspect it's the 1" HDs that are to blame, rather than the design of the unit housing them.
  • Rio Good Karma (Score:5, Informative)

    by saundo (312306) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:38AM (#10504259)
    I own one of these beasts too.

    The number one thing that I love about this device is the Rio DJ - Entertain me! function. What it does is looks at the most played tracks in a certain time period (15 minutes to everything on the Karma) and then plays a random mix of them. Awesome!

    The second best thing is the crossfade feature under the Equalizer function. It basically makes a nice seamless mix of music that fades in and out of each track.

    Battery life is great! I regularly get 10hrs of music out of it.

    The only downsides I've discovered are that the little stick selector is flimsy, and the ethernet port is very flaky when it comes to working with switches. Neither my D-Link or Netgear 10/100 switches work with it, so I have resorted to loading the Windows software to load music.
  • I was going to try the paper clip (no, I didn't have one in the woods where I was goofing off) but now I know the next step (the slam) in case the first option doesn't work. It is most certainly scary.
  • by mreed911 (794582) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:39AM (#10504272)
    Going into rescue mode showed that it was having trouble reading the disk. (crap!) After reading some message boards where others have experienced similar problems, I decided that I had little to lose and smacked it flat down on the desk. The Karma made a little grinding noise and booted up!

    This is probably the most telling sentence in the review. The firmware for this device is not capable of even a REBOOT when there's a hard drive error. NO recovery, NONE. The *only* recourse was a "smack it flat down on the desk," indicating that the firmware had quite obviously tried to get the hard drive to perform some physically impossible task... and banging the HD juggled the heads enough to produce either a good error or knock the firmware out of its loop and find the data it needs.

    Firmware issues... yuck. Wonder if I can convince my web guys to drop their 1U server boxes on the floor when they're being slow to help jiggle those hard drives into compliance???
    • Reports are that the disk is flakey, not the firmware. Or maybe the disk's own firmware, but not the karma's. Same difference.

      Applying a little percussive maintenance is always a last resort, but when there is a good chance your disk has already failed it probably won't hurt to slap it around a little.
    • by sydb (176695) <michael AT wd21 DOT co DOT uk> on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @12:05PM (#10504525)
      No, from my understanding (I own a Karma, and I spent about three months reading pretty much every post on the Karma forums) the problem is with the hard disk; sometimes (rarely, it's never happened to me) surface tension can prevent the disk spinning up after a spin down.

      Banging the Karma releases the surface tension. Rio deny this (they say they can't reproduce the problem) but if it's not a problem with the hard disk then I'd like to hear the alternatives (I don't buy your ideas that it "produces a good error" or "knocks the firmware out of it's loop", sorry!)

      The Karma is by no means perfect but:

      * The sound is great
      * OGG, FLAC
      * No DRM
      * Nice DJ features
      * Nice interface
      * Ethernet
      * Great battery life
      * It's not a poncy, proprietary and expensive iPod.

      If they could fix the stability issues, and add:

      * USB Mass Storage support (for USB2 Linux connectivity)
      * Remote control over Ethernet (sit comfy and control what songs play from my laptop or PDA)
      * A record function

      then

      * Make it smaller
      * Make it cheaper
      * Fit an even bigger hard disk

      it would be perfect.

      Is that a better review than the story? Mod me up.
    • Stiction is the suspected issue. Heads gettign stuck at the inner platter area. Seen this on full sized drives years ago made by Seagate. Smacking them or spinning them physically would allow them to spin up - until the next lockup. My Karma, after the paper clip, would reboot just fine - until it got the HD error and would then rebot again. The drive itself is the issue, not the firmware. Vibration appeaars to be what causes this - in my case riding a mower :-) Casual use walking or flying in planes hasn't
  • Why is 20 gigabytes generous? You can buy an iPod [ipod.com] with 20 gigabytes for $299.

    Hewlett-Packard (HP) is second-sourcing the iPod. So, if you buy an iPod, you get the combined support of 2 American companies: HP and Apple.

  • by Kenja (541830) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:40AM (#10504284)
    I also got a Rio Karma within the last month. I had been looking at these things for about a year but was waiting for someone to make a case for the sang things prior to buying one. Now Vaja leather has a 75$ case (nice looking) so I took the plunge. Right when I got the thing I updated the firmware, say what you will about Rio at least they keep the updates comming. The sound quality is great and the software is very nice. It supports MP3, OGG, WMA and FLAC formats (the Windows software includes rippers for all formats) somthing that no digital audio player sporting more then a gig should be without (FLAC format with 20GB storage is great). Battery life for me is around 12hours, but I've not yet fully conditioned the battery (you need to fully charge and discharge it five times says the manual). The dock is interesting, but without a way to controll playback via the net I dont see the point since USB 2.0 is faster then 100base-t for transfering songs. Have I said that the audio quality is stunning? Well it is, the five bad EQ qorks great and with +-95db range music sounds very good for a portable system (the packed ear buds suck). This feels like the audiophiles MP3 player.
    • say what you will about Rio at least they keep the updates comming.

      You make this seem like it's a good thing. Updates that come too frequently usually signal that something was wrong to begin with. And if their having troubles dealing with original problems, they are likely going to continue having them.

      Personally, I'd rather have something that worked straight away. I've had an iPod for about a year, and I think I've applied two updates. Neither of these were necessary for *stability*. Instead, the
      • "Personally, I'd rather have something that worked straight away."

        When I dream, I want a pony. No software as complex as these players gets released bug free and feature complete. I would rather have a company release updates that fix issues and add features then have them ignore me after they get my money.

  • Reliability (Score:5, Informative)

    by jackjumper (307961) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:42AM (#10504301)
    I've had one of these for almost a year now. I use it exclusively for playing oggs and exclusively with Linux. It works really well. I've got about 1300 songs on it, almost all encoded at 360kpbs. Sounds fantastic.

    I have had a couple of freezeups and various glitches but they all have been minor and have been resolved by either a reset (the paper clip) or powering it off and then on.

    I really like that I can use it with Linux and that it uses ethernet connectivity. (BTW: It's not that bad setting a static IP address - takes about 2 minutes)

    One question: Where's the "developer's site on the internet" for the java transfer software? Would it be so hard to include a link?
    • Re:Reliability (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @12:14PM (#10504624)
      http://rmml.dev.java.net
  • by kzinti (9651) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:43AM (#10504310) Homepage Journal
    Are you kidding me? No matter how great the rest of the features, "scary lockups" are not something most people will just ignore - especially when they cause the hard drive to seek for 40 continuous minutes, draining the battery. I'll keep my iPod, thanks very much, and when I want to replace it, this Rio will not be on my list for consideration.
    • Precisely - especially as the 'lockup' problem that requires a bang to fix is supposedly caused by the head sticking to the surface of the disk, which will knacker the disk in no time.
      He's only had the thing a few months and it's had one serious hardware problem already. Who the hell cares about the unit's features if it can't even work for that long reliably?
  • hmmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    Definately hasn't convinced me to change the "My New iRiver" sticker on my penny jar.
  • by freelunch (258011) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:44AM (#10504326)
    I have had an Archos for about a year and have been very happy. The open source Rockbox [freshmeat.net] software is great..

    I don't see much point in the Karma. It is expensive.. somewhat unstable.. and like most proprietary products, will be End of Life'd soon enough.

    What I would really like to have is WAV recording capability. Though the MP3 recording on the Archos has worked well and I have sourced at least one concert using it with the line-in and good mics.

    Good recording capability is lacking in most products.

  • by stuffman64 (208233) <stuffman@NOsPAm.gmail.com> on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:44AM (#10504334) Homepage
    The Rio Riot [everythingusb.com] was the first HD unit by Rio. I own one myself, and it was a terrific audio device until a mishap with a homebrew car docking cradle fried the system board. I attempted to fix it, but when it was apart, I accidently tore the thin plastic LCD connector (which had its "grain" perpendicular to the conductors, and thus tore in a way I can't repair). I really miss it for music, but the good side is that I now have a decent battery for "projects" and a 20-GB harddrive which I am trying to mate with my Sharp Zaurus SL-C860 PDA.

    Sonic Blue, however, is horrible with support. They released very few software updates, and the device only worked with MusicMatch Jukebox. But the interface was awesome, and the sound quality was quite good for a portable unit.
  • Myself and 2 friends all have the Karma, and have all experinced the scarry lockup. But amazingly, they seem to work fine in spite of this strange phenomenon (I've had mine for almost a year now).

    The sound quality is great, that's the main reason I went with the Karma. I believe the signal/noise ratio is 95 (higher than iPod). Just make sure you play Oggs and Flacs to take advantage of it. This also was the only player that supported Flacs at the time I purchased.

  • Poor OS Support (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mreed911 (794582)
    ...Linux friendly... is OS-agnostic...

    Since I currently only have Linux machines at home, the included software was useless.


    So, was it or was it *not* linux friendly? Seems like linux friendly, especially with java-based software, would mean that the included OS-agnostic, linux-friendly software would both be included AND work. What's the deal, man?
    • There are two pieces of software included: the one on the CD that is your typical "Music Manager" software, and then a "lite" version written in Java that runs everywhere. It is also located on the Karma itself, so if you dock it and set the IP, you can log your web browser onto the web server running on your player, download the java software, fire it up, and transfer songs.

      It is Linux friendly because it supports Ethernet as a transfer mode and uses Java software for transferring. This also makes it Ma
  • Love it (Score:4, Informative)

    by xyloplax (607967) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:45AM (#10504343)
    I love my Karma. Would I trade it for an IPod? You betcha. But I am a technology whore, so discount that.

    Pros:
    Good sound. Nice equalizer function. Easy to use PC GUI. It fits great in my hand. The controls are very easy to use. It's cheaper than an IPod. Jog dial makes life easy. Big, easy to read screen. Long battery life.

    Cons:
    Can hang or crash on occasion if you put it in your pocket and you walk fast like me. Battery is non-replaceable. Faint, slight hiss in the background (regardless of format). No random per band or per album. Flaky ethernet port.

    I do not regret my purchase. I can live with the cons.
  • the page list a docking station, cables, etc, but missing in the pack are the essential clip for resets and the hammer to make it start to work fairly well. Those are sold separately or the user must provide them?

    About the equation 1Gb=1,000,000,000 bytes in their site, so their 20 Gb is not exactly what everyone thinks, well, probably they are not the only ones that do that equivalences.

  • iRiver H120 (Score:2, Informative)

    by AndyCampbell (801057)
    I did plenty of research into MP3 players over the summer, and arrived at a purchase of an iRiver H120 (previously IHP-120) instead of the equivalent iPod or Karma units. It has a 20GB hard drive, inline remote with full functionality, microphone for recording, fm radio reception, supports MP3 and OGG, long battery life (16 hours or so), works as a mass storage device (no iTunes or other custom software to upload music, can be used easily as a file transfer unit), and pretty decent firmware. Essentially, it
  • by thepod (557531)
    "...is OS-agnostic"

    ...not hardly. It requires Windows-based drivers to access the device as a regular hard drive for non-music files (unless someone's hacked it for Linux).

    Microsoft makes this a requirement for any device that is licensed to play Microsoft DRMed music.

    Besides, isn't this review like, two years too late?
  • Solutions (Score:5, Informative)

    by GarfBond (565331) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:58AM (#10504461)
    If the OP only has linux machines at home, chances are he didn't apply the necessary firmware patches.

    While the unit does have a history of locking up, this was both a problem of between the Hitachi drive's firmware and the Karma's firmware. As of FW 1.25 (I believe) Rio believes they have completely solved problems from their end. Thus, if you have a fully updated Karma and the drive is still flaking out, it's probably Hitachi's fault (still Rio's fault for choosing Hitachi, but at least you know what's going on).

    Firmware upgrades are regrettably only upgradeable through USB using Windows. However, once you update the firmware yourself, Rio Music Manager Lite (the java version mentioned) works perfectly fine through Ethernet, and is quite nice actually. The latest firmware available is v1.68, obtainable from the Karma support site [digitalnetworksna.com]. As a review though, this kinda sucked because it doesn't mention other niceties of the Karma. Battery life is rated at about 15 hours (12 if you use oggs exclusively). Gapless playback is possible with LAME-ripped MP3s and all Oggs. The karma is perfectly capable of using DHCP, not sure why the reviewer wanted to go through the hassle of a static assignment.

    Riovolution [riovolution.com] is a great site for Rio owners, containing FAQs and a useful Forum. In fact, Rio employees post on the website from time to time, though obviously in an unofficial manner. That site was the originator of the "smack your karma" solution if you ran into the same problem as the user above did (short reason: sticky hard drive. Check the FAQs).

    Personally, I love my Karma. I got it at Bestbuy with warranty in case it died, so I don't have to worry about that. I have yet to experience ANY hard drive issues (upgraded the firmware as the first thing I did), and it's been working great so far. I've been using it for about 5 months now with no problems. My personal rating of the product would be 6-7/10 because of the reliability issues with the product (new units don't seem to be bad, but it's hard to get accurate numbers). Without reliability problems I'd give it a 9/10.

    • Oh, a couple of more additions:

      The karma supports Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WMA, and FLAC fully and without issues. Comparable to AAC, MP3, and Apple Lossless for you ipod whores :)

      Another great feature is the 5-band parametric EQ, for you audiophiles who know what you're doing. There are of course various presets.

      I want to reiterate Gapless Playback support. As far as I know, no one else has managed to do this properly yet (iriver's got a crappy beta firmware I think). Great for those live albums that absolu
  • by mimio (151368) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:58AM (#10504463) Homepage
    I bought mine almost six months ago. Have not had a lockup in 4 months.
    Battery life is excellent, 12 hours playing music opposed to some players that have battery duration of 12 hours starting from the moment you remove it from the charger.
    The shape is great because it allows you to use it with one hand.
    Plays several formats including Ogg Vorbis.
    Rio DJ allows me to select predifined playlists based on:

    * Entertain Me!: Generates playlist from most frequently played music. Mix can last 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1, 2, 3, 4, or 8 hours.
    * Play All: Play everything and automatically sort by album, artist, genre, or year.
    * Top Tunes: Play the most frequently played tracks. You can choose from the top 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 100, or 250 songs.
    * New Music: Play the most recently imported tracks. Choose from music imported in the last 1 day, 3 days, 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 6 months, or 1 year.
    * Memory Lane: Play tracks that haven't been played in a while. Choose from music not played in the last 1 day, 3 days, 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 6 months, or 1 year.
    * Sounds Of...: Play tracks from the 1940's, 1950's, 1960's, 1970's, 1980's, 1990's, or newer than 2000
    * Forgotten Gems: Play old favorites that haven't been played in the last 1 day, 3 days, 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 6 months, or 1 year.
    * Déjà Vu: Play tracks that have been played in the last 1 day, 3 days, 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 6 months, or 1 year.
    * Random Mix: Generate a random list lasting 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1, 2, 3, 4, or 8 hours.

    There is very detailed review at:
    http://gear.ign.com/articles/458/458401p1.html [ign.com]

    Two months ago I bought a second Karma for my wife. I can say the karma is the best gadget I have bought in a long time.
  • My Kharma (Score:3, Interesting)

    by L3on (610722) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:59AM (#10504471) Journal
    I have owned a rio kharma for about a year now (got one when they first came out). I had to have it RMAed about 2 months after I got it because the HD failed, other than that I love it. OGG format on it is the best and the built-in playlist features can't be beat. Also, the docking cradle which sits on my desk glows to the beat of the music. The other thing that is great about the Kharma is it has both USB and Ethernet connectivity through its docking cradle so friends on your network can drop songs directly onto it.

    Things I don't like about the Kharma is the software utility, it takes forever to add music to the browser.

  • Another happy owner (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Richard_J_N (631241) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @12:01PM (#10504491)
    I've got one too - and I have to say, I'm mainly very happy with it. I bought mine for the sound quality - it's vastly better than the iPod.
    (The iPod has "issues" with Classical music with a large dynamic range at high bitrates which make the sound utterly excruciating - yes, this is a bug in the design, and no, Apple don't give a Monkey's).

    All I'd like to see added is a way to remote-control it via ethernet (i.e. to actually make it start playing!)

    Another nice feature - it's easy to disassemble. I took the back off mine so as to write my name inside it (in case of loss/theft) - and it uses *proper* screws !
  • by loraksus (171574) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @12:02PM (#10504498) Homepage
    Sort of off topic, but a Archos jukebox recorder can be had for a bit over a hundred bucks, 20gb, has digital in / out, mounts like a hdd under any o/s, charges off a usb cable or wall-wart and uses a standard usb cable (the mini b "camera" one). Oh yeah, it can record via a built in mic or an external.
    It also has a open source firmware called rockbox.
    ( http://www.rockbox.org/ ) and you really can't find a battery powered portable 20 GB drive for the price.

    My only bitch is that the randomize feature could use a little work. Kinda looks ugly, but to me (college student) spending $200 to get a nice white ipod is, well, better spent on food and liqour.

    Can't play .ogg, but why would I want to re-encode all my music?
  • by dschuetz (10924) <slash AT david DOT dasnet DOT org> on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @12:06PM (#10504529) Homepage
    I believe it is Rio's first HDD-based player

    Their first HD-based MP3 player was the Rio Riot. I bought one of those a couple of years ago on eBay for about 2/3 list, and love it. However, I rarely use it any longer because of a) low battery life, b) absolutely impossible to get music onto the damned thing, and c) I now have XM.

    Aside from the above-mentioned drawbacks, what I really loved about the Riot was the interface. It had the standard by song, by artist, and by genre selections. But you could also build your own playlists (we've done that on long trips, on the fly), it also can play random selections from your most-played songs, least-played songs, or even just fill X number of minutes with random music.

    Unfortunately, it was only USB-1, and required a screwed-up version of iTunes or MusicMatch to get songs onto the unit. Right now I really want to remove all the music and start over, but it's just too difficult to bother with. :(

    Even the iPod, from what I understand, doesn't do this quite "right". All I want is a fast interface (USB2 or FW), that shows up as a hard drive, and let me drag songs and playlists on/off as I like. let the box periodically re-index its database, rather than doing it as I transfer songs (as every other device seems to do).

    Anyway, I just wanted to point out that this wasn't Rio's first HD unit. And that I still like their software better than the iPod's. Give me iPod-quality hardware with improved Rio software, and I'll go back to MP3s in a heartbeat.
  • Or spend $289 for a device that you can also watch video on (and record, and play on a tv, etc etc).
    Archos AV120 w/ DVR Attachment
    http://www.thinkgeek.com/electronics/m p3/5fe2/
  • As with any hard-drive based player, jogging/running/biking with it is probably not a good idea.

    That's odd, I can do anything with my iPod - jog or whatever. Actually the small laptop HD's that most systems use can take quite a jolt, so I'm not sure why the Karma would be any different unless it's not caching much... did you try jogging with it?

    I didn't want to rain on your parade by mentioning the elephant in the room, but I thought I'd mention that not every HD based player is "delicate".
  • The RIO's rep for lockups is justified. Why? It happened to me, that's why! :) Multiple times.

    Now I've got a Neuros and couldn't be happier...
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @12:21PM (#10504702) Homepage
    "Apart from a tendency to burst into flame and crash, the Hindenburg is an efficient mode of transportation with a luxurious ride..."

    "The Tacoma Narrows bridge is a slim and elegant marvel of civil engineering, apart from a tendency to twist and shake in high winds..."

    "But aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, what did you think of the play?"

  • by brianerst (549609) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @12:27PM (#10504764) Homepage
    I've owned a Karma for about a year, and it definitely has its place in the world of HDD-based players.

    Pros

    Plays Ogg, FLAC, MP3 and WMA. Everything I own is in Ogg and FLAC (rip everything with EAC) and until recently, the Karma was the only HDD that supported both.

    Gapless playback (important for mixes). I don't know of any other player that has it. iPod has very short gaps ( Long battery time. I routinely get 10-12 hours playing Ogg. MP3 and FLAC time are longer (less CPU intense).

    Good community/developer support [riovolution.com]. The forums there have been great (recently, there's been a bit of a flame war regarding the next-gen Karma).

    5-band parametric equalizer. The sound out of this thing is great, and the equalizer is very good.

    Good firmware/user interface. It's very easy to edit playlists, select music, change equalizer settings, etc. There have been at least 4 firmware updates since release (one of them adding gapless support for Ogg).

    Size. I like the square form factor - it's very pocketable. Wish it were a bit less thick.

    Cons

    Iffy build quality. Two big problems: HDD lockups and broken scroll wheels. I've had both (had to replace the unit on the scroll wheel, did the "thump on a desk" fix for the HDD lockup), but I also think the hardware issues have been somewhat overstated. I've had iPods die too - I think it's somewhat par for the course with first-generation HDD players. I expect the next-gen Karma to be a little tougher.

    Scroll wheel. I don't like it. It's prone to breaking and it's a little awkward. You can mostly ignore it except for playlist editing. The nipple works fine for most day-to-day stuff.

    Have to use Rio Taxi/Rio Music Manager to move music/files to and from the device. The latest version of Windows Media and WinAMP can see the Karma, but the Karma still suffers from a lack of MSC support. Historically, it's proprietary database format has made it a lot faster, but everyone is moving to MSC.

    The biggest issue with the Karma right now is that Rio is rather obviously get ready to release its successor (the Chroma) but they are being incredibly secretive. The developers have dropped out of the Karma forums for the most part and no new firmware has been discussed for a while. I think most everyone expects that once the Chroma is delivered, its firmware will be backported to the Karma to add MSC support, but there is no guarantee. The developers mentioned MSC in upcoming Karma firmware, so it's pretty safe to assume it will eventually come. The Chroma will probably look much like the Carbon (good bye nipple, hello d-pad) and hopefully will have a slightly lower-profile and tougher scroll wheel like the Carbon.

    I like the Karma a lot and am eagerly awaiting the Chroma. But I will compare it against the iAudio M5 and iRiver products. Right now, those come up a little short on the features I use the most, but they've been getting better each generation. If Rio doesn't come out with a next-gen soon, iRiver and iAudio will pass it by. iPod/iTunes is nice, but I don't want/need FairPlay/AAC or crappy MP3. I want my Ogg/FLAC!

  • by JVert (578547) <corganbilly@@@hotmail...com> on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @01:45PM (#10505729) Journal
    Man does not BUY a 20 ft cable. Man goes into his closet and pulls 20 feet from his spool, whips out his crimper (which is in his back pocket) and makes his own cable.

    I am not interested in a walkman reviewed by the eyes of a woman.
  • iRiver, anyone? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cecil (37810) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @01:45PM (#10505732) Homepage
    I compared both the iHP-120 and the Rio Karma myself before buying the iRiver [iriver.com] product, and I am very very happy. Both play oggs, both are 20GB, both have great battery life, but the iRiver has more. First and foremost it uses the USB Mass Storage interface. No need for silly Java software, you just connect it to a USB-enabled computer and can transfer files natively, in Mac, Linux or Windows. That includes non-music files, too, unlike the Karma.

    Secondly, no lockup issues. If a hard drive is making grinding noises and slamming it makes it work again, that sounds very much like a head crash to me. Uh. That's bad, by the way. Expect the life of that player to be low. If there really was a head crash, it probably scraped some shavings off the disk. Nevermind the fact that that part of the disk is probably ruined, you've now got little metal shavings whizzing around inside your cleanroom-environment-sealed 4200rpm+ hard disk. A head crash is eventually fatal to the drive in most cases.

    Compare this to the worst complaint I've had with the iRiver, which is that the built-in microphone will record some prominent harddrive noise if you fill the in-memory buffer while recording, which makes long recordings useless for anything but personal reference. Which is generally fine. The external mic doesn't have this problem, of course.

    Anyway, very happy with my iRiver. Even moreso now. Thanks!

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