If you’ve been waiting to hear more about that top-secret WiFi MP3 player we wrote about last month, then today is your lucky day. The former CEOs from Rio, iriver, and MusicMatch just emerged from the shadows and into the light at the SXSW Trade Show in Texas with the summer-bound Slacker Portable Player.
Named after Slacker.com, a new mash-up music service that combines online tunes, satellite radio, and wireless hotspots, the player (shown here in some sort of dock) has an enormous 4-inch screen, storage capacities ranging between 2GB and 120GB, and perhaps the best implementation of WiFi on a DAP/PMP to date. The ad-free Slacker.com service is $7.50/month and allows you to stream stations directly to the player via satellite (optional car kit required) or over WiFi. A free version is also available, but it’s slightly pared down and of course includes ads. You can tag your favorite songs, ban songs you hate, and even send stations to friends.
Even if you take out the WiFi feature (which you’d probably have to do when you’re out of range, anyway), you’re still left with a very nice-looking DAP for playing all the MP3, WMA, WMV, etc. files you actually own.
[Slacker via Coolest Gadgets]
Three former executives from Rio, iRiver, and MusicMatch are teaming up on a brand new digital audio player. Even though we know very little about this player, with a Rio and iRiver bloodline, it is definitely something to keep an eye on. The upcoming device will take full advantage of the wireless feature bringing up direct downloads, internet radio, a social network, and device-to-device sharing. The company is in stealth mode at the moment but will appear again in a few months to show us some goods.
Here are some specs deduced from job postings on Broadband Instruments’ website. The player will run embedded linux or Windows CE. It will support MP3, AAC, H.264, MPEG 2, and MPEG4. It will also feature USB-OTG and Bluetooth. Sounds good. We’ll keep you posted.
[Wired via Engadget]
So what ever happened to the people at Rio after the break up? Two of them, one of which was a former Creative employee before Rio, started their own company making players under the Siren brand. The company designs their players from scratch, down to the UI, using the same industrial design firm as Rio once did.
I have not had a chance to use one of these first hand, but with some Rio in there blood there may be some good stuff here. You can find their 4GB player at Walmart and on their site for $210, about forty buck less than other 4GB counterparts.
Rio was one of the first manufactures of hard drive based MP3 players. There are still many fans today despite the company’s liquidation several months ago. The Rio Cubic also known as the Rio Carbon C, was to be a 30GB player with 30 hours of battery time with support for MP3, WMA, FLAC, and OGG.
We may still see some version of this at some point. Sigmatel, bought the intellectual property when Rio was dissolved.
A former Rio engineer sent Engadget the remains of this remains of this project including lots of pictures and even the unfinished manual. Check it out.
[Engadget more on this at DAPReview]
After many stalled attempts at releasing a new MP3 player under the Rio brand name, D&M Holdings announced that it would no longer compete in the digital audio player market. The fact is that their portable audio division no longer fits into their business strategy and core competencies.
While a lot of RIO fans may be disappointed but from business perspective this is a smart move. D&M Holdings is a conglomerate of several very strong well known home audio brands such as, Denon, Marantz, McIntosh Laboratory, D&M Professional, ReplayTV and recently acquired Boston Acoustics. Getting out of portable audio market will allow them to focus on what they are already doing very well.
However you will not see the Rio brand name just disappear. Throwing away a good brand name is like throwing away money. Most likely the Rio name will be sold off or licensed to another manufacturer, which will be transparent to the consumer. So expect to see it again in the future.