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Music Media Hardware

Latest Crop of MP3 Players 172

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the still-very-cool dept.
Anonymous Coward writes "A couple of interesting new MP3 portables were announced this week. The first one is Bantam's BA1000 that has near-identical size and weight dimensions to the iPod, but offers a number of features the older Apple doesn't like the ability to record from an internal FM radio. Choosing to offer the player in only 2GB and 5GB capacities, it looks like it is shooting to be the first sub $200 portable utilizing Toshiba's petite 1.8" drives. The other player announced was Samsung's Yepp YP-55, which claims to be the first Surround Sound MP3 flash portable. Using SRS Labs' surround sound simulator, the unit comes in 128MB and 258MB units. MP3newswire.net also offers an older, but nicely explained article on how this technology works using only two headphones to replace six speakers."
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Latest Crop of MP3 Players

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  • 258 MB? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    258 MB? That's new. I want one now.
  • by spiny (87740) on Sunday April 20, 2003 @10:05AM (#5768485) Homepage Journal
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/54/30315.html

    it's about time the flash memory players got some extra storage, i'm not prepared to splash out on a neat mp3 player that can only hold one album at a decent bit rate. according to the article, they won't be getting to the UK for a while yet though ...
  • by zonix (592337) on Sunday April 20, 2003 @10:07AM (#5768491) Homepage Journal
    ... Surround Sound MP3 flash portable

    Come on, geeez!!! :-)

    On a more interesting note, Frontier Labs [frontierlabs.com] recently released their new MP3 player, the NEX IA. From the site:

    Supports multiple formats (MP3 and WMATM) and emerging formats such as Ogg Vorbis through firmware upgrades.

    It's almost official then, go OGG! Can't wait!

    z
    • That's kinda cool. I don't think ogg can be ignored much longer. MP3Pro migth be better quality than ogg, but you can't beat the price tag of ogg (Actually Im not sure about the quality bit, haven't tested it). For people like myself, it doesn't make much sense to buy a portable mp3 player, not without ogg support. When I rip my cds I always use ogg. Im not saying that mp3 isn't good, I just don't want to pay for an encoder. Not even sure I can buy an mp3 encoder that will work under Linux, I might be wrong
      • by ahaning (108463) on Sunday April 20, 2003 @10:37AM (#5768590) Homepage Journal
        I'd just like to point out, since I was confused about this once, as well, that OGG is just a containter format and Vorbis is the audio codec. You could just as well have an ogg file with mp3 data inside.

        AVI is also a container format. Thus, you'll see lots of different codecs inside. These days, some incarnation of Divx is what people put in AVIs.
      • I read on other slashdot stories that ogg vorbis is marginally better than MP3. But I cannot tell the difference.
        • I read on other slashdot stories that ogg vorbis is marginally better than MP3. But I cannot tell the difference.

          The audio quality difference between Vorbis and MP3 is marginal, though not insignificant. The biggest differences are that Vorbis is an open specification, isn't patent encumbered, the reference encoder/decoder is open sourced so anyone can use them and it doesn't require hackish ID3 tags to store song metadata.

          In short, vorbis is a little better quality-wise, but has plenty of other nic

      • Not even sure I can buy an mp3 encoder that will work under Linux, I might be wrong.

        I don't know if you can buy an mp3 encoder that works under linux either---but I know you can download LAME [sourceforge.net], which will do the trick nicely. And yes, Flac support would be very nice.

      • MP3Pro migth be better quality than ogg, but you can't beat the price tag of ogg (Actually Im not sure about the quality bit, haven't tested it).

        Gotta give it to you, you are being honest. You don't see that very often around here...Do a blind test with both mp3pro and ogg at the same bitrate and you will realize how much Ogg beats the crap out of mp3pro...
      • 1. LAME is the only encoder you should ever be using for MP3. It is both free, and available for Linux.

        2. MP3pro uses a technology to compress the high frequencies. It therefore sounds better than MP3 at low bitrates, but worse at high bitrates. It will never be popular.

        Check out www.hydrogenaudio.com for information on how to properly encode MP3s, Ogg etc.
    • But will they offer a flash upgrade for the older ones? (like my NEX II)

      I'd check their website, but it doesn't work on Mozilla. :(
      • by llin (54970)

        It's not on their website, but via emailed, I was informed the OGG code was being worked on and would be available for the II and the ia.

        Having my NEX II conveniently disassembled right now, it looks like it's using a TI TMS320VC5416 [ti.com] (C54xx series) 16-Bit 144-pin Fixed-Point DSP with Boundary Scan.

        A quick Ogg search shows that someone was working on porting the Tremor code to the TI C54s last year [xiph.org]. Interesting stuff.

        BTW, I'm been using Mozilla v1.3+ (currently running a 1.4b build) and the site hasn

    • by llin (54970)

      I just pre-ordered my NEX ia a few days ago (it doesn't ship for a few more days; $130 + s/h for a NEX ia + 128MB CF [mydigitaldiscount.com]) - my NEX II served me well for two years and just recently died. One neat feature is that it does do 64kbps MP3 recording w/ an internal mic. I was originally looking for a decent MP3 recorder, but unfortunately, one doesn't exist (the only ones that have level meters for example are $1000+ bulky pro units).

      Anyway, I posted some research on my blog [randomfoo.net] which might be of interest:

      My old NEX [frontierlabs.com]

    • It's almost official then, go OGG! Can't wait!

      As much as I hate it when other people rant, rave, and flame about open source being the cure for cancer, OGG VORBIS is one open source product that is worth every bit of rant and rave it can get. I use it now exclusively.

      Seriously, folks, if you haven't started using OGG, please check it out. If you want to do it for the peace of mind of not using a codec that comes with licences and royalties (MP3), then do that, but I use it because they're better.
      An ogg
    • It's almost official then, go OGG! Can't wait!

      Yes, but it's been "almost official" for well over a year now. Go search the old ogg-traffics for the first announcement.

      They say it'll be comming soon, but absolutely refuse to even guess about the timeline. "Buy our product, it doesn't have any of the features you want, but it will SOON! We swear!"
  • 2 Gig 2 Small (Score:5, Informative)

    by malia8888 (646496) on Sunday April 20, 2003 @10:10AM (#5768496)
    It is amazing how fast I filled up my own iPod with 5 Gigs of sound. Go for the player with the largest capacity one can afford. In this case size really matters.
    • In this case size really matters.

      [geek babble filter off]
      And i makes up for what people might be lacking in size in other departments. A reasonable substitute, I'd say. :-)
      [geek babble filter on]

      z
      • hmmm, yes, indeed, i can just imagine geeks hanging out bragging to teenage girls how they can simultaneously carry all of Christina's and Britney's albums with them at the same time...should make for an almost-guarantueed pick-up line ;-)
        • Heh, and I can image the geek saying to the girl: "Hey baby, wanna se my unit?".

          Ripped off from Butthead - shameless, I know. :-)

          z
    • Re:2 Gig 2 Small (Score:3, Insightful)

      by n3k5 (606163)

      It is amazing how fast I filled up my own iPod with 5 Gigs of sound.

      That's nothing remarkable, it's got FireWire, it's meant to be filled up fast, see? The iPod it meant to be a peripheral for your Mac/PC, one on which you put music for your next week in the office or your vacation. When you're back, you can fill it with something else. It's not meant to store your entire music collection; it would be silly to do that, because you could loose your entire collection after dropping it on the floor just once

      • by dmaxwell (43234) on Sunday April 20, 2003 @11:54AM (#5768844)
        I agree that such a portable shouldn't be the primary storage device for a music collection. However, having my entire collection on hand at any time kicks ass. At the moment, my entire collection fits in 14 GB. For awhile to come, there will be portable players that can hold it. Of course, being able to afford such a handy player is another thing altogether. I would have a use for a 5 GB player even though it can't hold everything. The flash players seems like a waste of time and money to me. There is a convienience factor as well. Little players have to be filled up all the time. I'd rather only hook the player up to my desktop when I've made significant additions to my music collection. I'm thinking more in terms of syncing the player to the main archive rather picking out new tunes for it all the time.

        If they aren't meant to hold the entire collection then they should be. Not for primary storage or even a backup, you're right about that. It is a matter of convienience. If I have to change out whats on it all the time, the player becomes a PITA. Bring on the big hard drives!
      • It's not meant to store your entire music collection; it would be silly to do that, because you could loose your entire collection after dropping it on the floor just once, or if it accidentially comes near a strong magnet or it's stolen or ... you get the idea

        Believe it or not, some of us actually buy music instead of download it from filesharing services. Unless we dropped it on our CDs, we'd not lose our entire collection. We'd just have to rerip our entire collection.

        Furthermore, you assume that w

        • Believe it or not, some of us actually buy music instead of download it from filesharing services.

          Why wouldn't I believe that? I was the one who said it would not be a good idea to use an iPod (or similar) as primary storage of your music collection and that it would be better to also have it on CDs. I know that many people disagree and like to have all their data on HDs, because nowadays they're so cheap and big and hardly ever fail. I still don't like the idea, though, because if the HD fails (or both HDs

    • Go for the player with the largest capacity one can afford.

      I totally agree with you here. I was out shopping for an iPod in February and all that I could find in all of Montreal was a 5gig PC version or 20gig Mac version. (i know, i know, i could have just reformated it) The 20giger was a bit pricey, but it has turned out to be such a huge help. Not only can I fit absolutely all my music on there, but when my PowerBook needed a little reformat after a bad OS update, having the iPod made backups a breeze.

  • blah (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 20, 2003 @10:15AM (#5768509)
    Yet another HDD unit. I went through three Creative Jukebox Zens before I gave up on them. The idea is awesome, but I'd want to hear some 'torture-test' stories (like, you know, using it while walking...) from some I-Pod owners before I shell out another $300 USD for something that's about as durable as a lightbulb.

    • Re:blah (Score:5, Informative)

      by PhoenixK7 (244984) on Sunday April 20, 2003 @10:25AM (#5768544)
      While walking, I've never had it skip once. In fact I use it to listen to music while walking between classes, work, home, etc.. Running it does OK, though you may need to pause every 20 mins or so (length of skip protection) for it to buffer up more tracks. I haven't had it skip on me while jogging though.

      So far battery life has been good (especially with the latest firmware), transfers are speedy, the interface is simple and elegant. I really haven't had any trouble with it :)

      This is with a 10 GB iPod I purchased in January.
      • pretty sturdy (Score:3, Informative)

        I've dropped the damn thing. On hard floors. From about 4 feet. It's fallen out of my backpack a couple of times, in its belt strap thingy which protects it from scratches a bit but probably doesn't cushion the impact much. It still works fine. This is a 20g model about 6 months old. (Note - I don't recommend dropping any hard drive, even one with a spin wheel and headphones).
    • Re:blah (Score:2, Informative)

      by js62 (609777)
      My ipod is a year and a half old. I use it mostly on long runs and bike rides. Never had a problem with it other than it doesn't have a long battery life below 40 deg F.
    • The iPod is durable (Score:2, Informative)

      by jadriaen (560723)

      I'd want to hear some 'torture-test' stories (like, you know, using it while walking...) from some I-Pod owners

      Well, my first generation 5 GB iPod still works fine, after one year and a half. No complaints whatsoever. I use my iPod while cycling, walking, sitting on the bus. I've put them in a Xtrememac case [xtrememac.com] (the 5 Gig model does not come with a case, the others do). The most extreme situations my iPod has been through (besides of residing in my pants-pocket while cycling), is falling of the table sometime

    • by kmo (203708)
      The idea is awesome, but I'd want to hear some 'torture-test' stories (like, you know, using it while walking...) from some I-Pod owners before I shell out another $300 USD for something that's about as durable as a lightbulb.

      I use one of the older 10 gig iPods while walking all the time -- usually while using a case that will attach to my belt, but sometimes in a pocket. The newer ones have a wired remote with buttons for play/pause, preve/next, volume up/down.
    • Re:blah (Score:3, Informative)

      by svirre (39068)
      I brought my iPod skiing (downhill, alpine). Two days with outside temperatures varying between -10C to 0C (Between the top and the bottom of the mountain) 6 hours each day.

      While the unit itself wasn't subjected to outside temperature, it did get exposed to a fair bit of humidity inside the jacket as well as the occational bump and bruise from falls.

      The only problem is that the remote control connection is too loose som somtimes it worked loose. Music wasn't interrupted but the remote failed to work until
    • The idea is awesome, but I'd want to hear some 'torture-test' stories (like, you know, using it while walking...) from some I-Pod owners before I shell out another $300 USD for something that's about as durable as a lightbulb.

      A friend bought an iPod and used it for months during his almost-daily training for the Boston Marathon. Then he ran the marathon with it. It simply went into his pocket- no waist pack or nothin', so it sure got bounced around a lot.

      That good enough? :-)

  • Next Gen (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mattygfunk1 (596840) on Sunday April 20, 2003 @10:17AM (#5768514)
    It seems to me that the amount of storage has now developed into overkill for music files. I would love to see companies incorporate colour screens that could provide the ability for video to be displayed since the storage is already there.

    Of course with colour screen cell phones taking off the prices should drop to the point that this will be a natural progression in the next generation of players. I'm backing that may be a showpiece at the next macworld.

    __
    Cheap Web Site Hosting [cheap-web-...ing.com.au]

    • Re:Next Gen (Score:3, Informative)

      by spike hay (534165)
      I would love to see companies incorporate colour screens that could provide the ability for video to be displayed since the storage is already there.

      Try this. [thinkgeek.com] It holds 20 gigs, and has a small color screen for displaying divx. Only $359. Not a bad deal, considering the price of the iPod.
      • Re:Next Gen (Score:3, Informative)

        by NightWhistler (542034)
        A friend of mine had one of those for testing, and we messed around with it a bit...

        The DivX playback is pretty decent (at least on tv, the tiny screen sucks), but the abillity to record is really dissapointing. An old beat-up VCR delivers better quality.

        Also, i found it pretty heavy to carry around in your pocket for MP3 playback.

        Just my 2 (euro)cents. ;-)
    • And what kind of video are you planning on playing on that tiny little screen? I admint it would be kind of a novalyt, and maybe neat for a little while, but that would eventualy wear off. Then you are left with something totaly useless that you paid an extra hundred dollars for.
    • I thought that hard drive mp3 players with lots of storage was overkill too until I bought my Archos Jukebox Multimedia. It took me all of a week to fill the thing up. It just goes to show that you never know how much music you have until you start systematically ripping your CDs.

      wadam.
    • Re:Next Gen (Score:4, Funny)

      by Blondie-Wan (559212) on Sunday April 20, 2003 @11:46AM (#5768811) Homepage
      Yes, of course - we might as well irk both the RIAA and the MPAA at the same time, for efficiency's sake... ;)
  • by SWroclawski (95770) <serge&wroclawski,org> on Sunday April 20, 2003 @10:18AM (#5768518) Homepage
    All I know is tha the Neuros [neurosaudio.com] upgrade will be out soon that will let me use it in GNU/Linux *and* be the first portable hardware player that can do Ogg Vorbis, and in the future, Ogg Speex and FLAC.

    I've waited years for these features, and soon my wait will be over.

    If there were another player with the same features out now, I'd buy that.

    Oh, and the Neuros will also let you record from FM and has a low-range FM broadcast so you can use it in your car.

    - Serge Wroclawski
  • Exciting! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 20, 2003 @10:19AM (#5768526)
    Latest Crop of MP3 Players
    Im gonna plant my Rio right now and see what I get!
  • by Tuxinatorium (463682) on Sunday April 20, 2003 @10:21AM (#5768530) Homepage
    There is no such thing as MP3s. I triple guarantee you, nobody is violating any copyrights on KaZaA, never! The RIAA are a gang of international criminals and mercenaries! They will be welcomed with DDoS attacks and shoes! The all of the lying RIAA infidels will be slaughtered, most of them!
  • I'm in the market for MP3 and even though i can afford an iPod is simply refuse to based on principle. They are really overpriced. I have been waiting for a player that was in GIG or 2 range and if Bantam's 2 GIG drive is around the $120 price range I'll be the first to buy it.
  • by Psx29 (538840) on Sunday April 20, 2003 @10:25AM (#5768543)
    but do they support unicode?
  • 10 hours or bust. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gabebear (251933)
    As far as using it just to play music 5 gigs would be enough(I use mine for other stuff so 5 gigs would be weak), but do I get to keep my 10hour battery? I am an 10gig iPod owner and the battery is the MOST important feature to me!!!
  • Ok, I've read the explanation of "3D" (surround sound) audio, and I still can't figure out from that why stereo by itself doesn't automatically have the same effect. I mean, if it's a case of waves hitting the ears at slightly different times, surely the same will be true of the microphones recording the audio?

    Can someone who knows why please post an explanation. I'm totally baffled by it all, I have to assume it's true because my surround sound speaker system sounds massively different to my old stereo s

    • Two microphones will work -- if they happen to place the two microphones inside ear-shaped sound absorbers the right distance apart.

      Since they don't, they're losing information -- a stereo recording won't tell you which direction things come from. (Not in a way the human brain can figure out, if at all).

      So by starting with a surround sound recording and using that information to build the stereo version, you're doing what could've been done in the first place, but wasn't... adding directional informatio

    • Your head is constantly moving. Even a tiny little bit. Your ears and brain are very sensitive to this and can easily tell whether sounds are in front of you or behind you. This is why surround sound is better than stereo and why normally headphones are not as good (the sounds always move with your head).

      How they simulate this with 2 speakers would probably entail simulating these movements with the sound itself, but I'm not sure.

      The reason you cannot usually tell the direction that Bass comes from (an
      • No way bass waves are bigger than your head ROFL! How the hell would they fit in your ear if they were? Besides, it is also well known that it is hard to tell which direction a high pitched sound is comming from. Please, PLEASE do not answer someone's question when you don't know the answer. I found this bit of information about how the inner ear works with respect to sound frequency:

        The basilar membrane is flexible enough to move with the pressure of the sound source. It is very narrow at the beginning

        • The original poster should have been talking about wavelength rather than wave size. The length of a wave can be calculated from the forumula speed(m/s)=freq(Hz) x wavelength(m). The speed of sound in air is about 330m/s. So a 60Hz sound (fairly deep bass) has a wavelength of 330/60=5.5 metres (this is why, btw, placement of subwoofers (doing 15-40Hz) in a room is so important - reflections and standing waves in this frequency range can be a major issue).

          Now sound does not just "fit in your ear". It also tr

      • headphones are not as good (the sounds always move with your head)

        Well, not always. Sony had (I don't know if they still sell them) wireless headphones once designed for TV watching. They had a sensor that sensed head direction, and they adjusted the sound if you turned your head so it still sounded like it was coming from the direction of the TV.

    • It is quite possible to record with two microphones, play back with two sound emitters, and get incredibly realistic 3D sound. You don't need any fancy electronics. All you need is to place the microphones in the same positions as a pair of human ears--that is, on either side of something that sonically resembles a human head.

      There are various head-like objects used. Some use a flat sound-absorbent panel; some use an artificial head with microphones embedded where the ear canals would be. Personally, since
  • Surround (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    LMFAO how are you going to get surround sound with headphones? I thought headphones are the best way to get the sound since after all we only have 2 ears on the side of our head and get the sound pumped right in while cancelling most outside noise out. This is also precisely the reason I won't move on to SACD or DVD-A because when I'm jogging outside, I could care less if my audio is 16/44 or 24/92, 4.1, 5.1, 6.1, 7.1, LOL!
    • umm, by your logic, how can we have surround sound at all given that we only have TWO EARS?

      (warning: above question is rhetorical - any attempt to answer it will be treated as an act of Iraqi Information Minister)
    • I share your confusion/disbelief.

      When using external loudspeakers, it's obvious why you can't get true stereo with only 2 (crosstalk plus the speakers are point sources instad of the whole field) but this is not true of headphones.

      But then I don't understand surround sound either. If anything, the problem should get worse because now you have crosstalk from a number of speakers. I haven't read an explanation of the different surround sounds that I understand, and I did sensory psychology as part of my first

      • you CAN get surround from two speakers, using things like Qsound. The problem is, you need to be in the sweet spot to hear the effect, which is why its not used much. Multi-speaker setups of course don't have this problem.

        Wearing headphones of course, everyone is in the sweet spot. So it is very doable.
    • Re:Surround (Score:4, Interesting)

      by oscillateur (410978) on Sunday April 20, 2003 @12:56PM (#5769080) Homepage
      There are in fact ways to have a sort of 3D perception of sound using only 2 speakers.

      The room acoustics research team [ircam.fr]at the IRCAM [ircam.fr] works on this. Their spatialisateur [ircam.fr] application allows you to use many different speakers configurations to enhance the spatial perception of a given piece, and using 2 speakers is an option. This is based on lots of psycho-acoustic research etc., and it works.

      It's more intended for concerts and things like that rather than mp3 players, but the technolgy exists.

      Sound & sound perception are far more complicated and full of surprises than one may think first...

      And btw, 16/24 and 24/92 refer to the bitrate and samplerate (in khz) of recorded audio, a completely different subject.
  • Roll your own... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by c_oflynn (649487) on Sunday April 20, 2003 @10:34AM (#5768573)
    Its also possible to make your own if you want support for any format.

    If you just want MP3, well thats easy. There are lots of sites on the web, here is one [myplace.nu].

    For Ogg there is an entire decoder-on-a-chip thingy, see this project [sourceforge.net]. Or you could probably just use a software version if you got some sort of RISC chip or whatnot (need to be fairly fast)
  • You could of course sacrifice some sound quality but I would get a vorbis decoding player. Vorbis sounds nice at 64kbps and at this bitrate it sounds like a LAME mp3 encoded at 128kbps. Just try it if you are septic:

    http://www.xiph.org/ogg/vorbis/listen.html
  • RTFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sh4de (93527) on Sunday April 20, 2003 @10:36AM (#5768584)
    MP3newswire.net also offers an older, but nicely explained
    article [mp3newswire.net] on how this technology works using only two headphones to replace six speakers.

    Um, no. The article doesn't explain how to "replace six speakers" with two. It describes a WinAmp plugin for "virtual speaker placement", whatever that is.

    Personally, I've found that all these "virtual" thingies are market-droid speak, snake oil at their very best. If your recording has two channels (assuming no multichannel encoding), a correctly configured stereo pair is the best option.

    Real multichannel records may give you true 3D sound, if you have the decoder, amp, and speakers to do it. However, the linked article describes an "improvement" to a system that's ill-suited for high fidelity playback in the first place.

    Why anybody would want to distort the sound even further from what it is after MP3/Ogg encoding, since you can get better results with a decent amp (budget models from NAD [nadelectronics.com] are very nice), and a pair of high quality speakers.

    • It's actually not snake oil. 2 years ago I built a demo version of the Iomega HipZip firmware that had SRS running on it. They have a hardware and a software version, i'm *guessing* that all handhelds use the software version for price.

      The software version shifts all the audio down by 6db or so, then performs its adjustments. The result is that audio players that have SRS end up being always quieter, even when SRS is disabled, so when SRS is enabled it sounds like an improvement. For me this was a major di
  • Googie Go? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nickos (91443)
    Check this out. [googiedrives.com] The small Danish company that's designed it needs your input on which product to make next, so if you like the look of it, make sure you vote for it on the site.
  • by adzoox (615327) on Sunday April 20, 2003 @10:37AM (#5768589) Journal
    I really think if you want an FM radio you should buy some that are integrated into the headphones. You can practically pay for a set if you sell the iPod headphones on eBay [ebay.com]. Sony makes these [ebay.com] and Radio Shack makes and sells several as well. (Headphones with built in tuner, some for AM FM TV Weather that also have line out)

    The iPod has yet to be beaten in my opinion, when comparing features the iPod's firewire interface (slower in theory, but not real world tests than USB 2.0), Amazingly simple integration and hard drive DATA capability are excluded. Plus they have great quality and have an INSANE number of support products and now battery [ipodbattery.com] & hard drive replacement services on the cheap.

    I would hold off on any MP# purchase to see if the newest iPods will be compatible with a new Apple Music service possibly later this month.

    I fully expect the new iPods to surpass anything on the market with a twist (as the the current ones do) for another year upon introduction.

  • the only price i could find for the new line of bantam players was the 5gb model for $329 (granted, the product is not for sale yet, so this is probably not set in stone), while a 5gb iPod will only cost you $300. If they introduced this new line of players to compete with the iPod, which was pretty obviously their intent, wouldnt they think that it is a good idea to price their products competitively? They add some new features, and promise some more in future models, but what makes this device a better b
  • by n3k5 (606163) on Sunday April 20, 2003 @10:59AM (#5768636) Journal
    quote from the last link in the article:
    Using a technique similar to that employed in 3D movies - the speakers target each ear individually the way colored 3D glasses target each eye - 3D audio promises to deliver 360 directional sound. It does this by mimicking how the ears distingish sound to create that fore to aft perception.
    This is a superb comparison, I've been looking for years for such an analogy. Technology that simulates surround sound in a stereo setup, like this, works about as good as coloured glasses work for viewing stereoscopic colour footage: you get an idea of the desired effect, but it's way off the real thing.

    Humans (and other animals as well) use several different clues to localise spatial sound, let's have a look at them: Firstly, there's the time difference: signals that are off center arrive earlier at one ear and later at the other. We can't consciously perceive such minimal time intervals, but out brain is hardwired to perceive the difference between the two signals. Electronic circuits can fake this effect, as long as the listener doesn't move eir head. Secondly, the sound is filtered by the head and the auricles, again differently for each ear if the source is off center and differently for sounds that come from different directions in general. Electronic circuits (and also microphones mounted inside artificial heads) can approximate this effect, but each individual has a different head and different ears and would require a recording tailored to em specifically for this to work perfectly. There actually is equipment that tailors spatial sounds to one headphone wearing individual after having measured eir head's characteristics with little microphones places inside eir auditory canals, near the ear drums. This works rather well, but again can't compensate for movements of the head. If you want to use speakers instead of headphones, the situation is much, much worse. And thirdly, that head movement I mentioned twice above: humans actually do that on purpose and unconsciously twist and tilt their heads around a little when localising sounds, thus making use of the slight changes in the filtering that occurs because of the head and the auricles. So far, there's no technique that takes that into account.

    As you can see, that expensive new hardware that Dolby is rolling out now, the Pro Logic II Virtual Speaker [dolby.com] encoder, absolutely cannot produce the same effect as any ordinary 4.1, 5.1 or 6.1 setup. It may spice up a movie you watch on your TV, but you wouldn't even rely on that when you're playing Quake and want to hear enemies coming from behind. And that's expensive, high end stuff. A 'surround sound simulator' in a lowly MP3 player delivers even less. I haven't tried the one mentioned above, but I guess there's no way it could make music sound 'more immersive' or '3d-like'.

    What's even worse, we're talking about music here. The best way to play music back is, without the slightest doubt, exactly the way it is intended to sound, the way it was recorded onto the CD or whatever medium. All those fancy DSP functions you find in all kinds of (mediocre) stereo equipment are nothing but useless features that exist for the sole purpose to have more features than the competition; it's pure dupery. You can alter sound by adding reverb or applying weird equalisation or whatnot, but arguing this alteration would be an improvement to each and every track is very, very stupid; don't fall for that.
  • the ipod

    the only one with a li-polymer battery. a better buffer for HDD players and a cool design.

    everyone wants to be like the iPod and i wonder where they will be in a year. with the iPod you know you are going to get updates and not be left out to dry on it. the others will not sell like the iPod and don't have the pull that apple does to improve them. MP3 encoding on unit is cool, but how useful will that be? i have not recorded a FM radio stream since 1988.

    i see more models and different brands as b
  • In other news iRiver released their newest flash based mp3 player, the iFP-300... The Craft [iriver.com][iRiver.com]. The player is flashable, and probably capable of Ogg Vorbis support (don't ask... Please... It's very strange). It comes in a sleek design too :)
  • Philips is accepting applications for beta testers for their new mp3 jukebox. 50 units will be given free to beta testers. To qualify, all you need is to answer a survey, where you GET TO TELL THEM HOW IMPORTANT OGG SUPPORT IS TO YOU! So let's fill them up with Ogg Vorbis votes. Apply [philips.com] for the beta test now!
  • I want a player I can use while working out, so that elimates most of the hard disk based players.
    But all the flash memory types have such small amounts of memory. 128 or 256mb?
    I rip all my CD's at 256kps, which means most albums are about 120mb.
    Only being able to carry 1 or 2 albums is pitiful; I want more variety and selection.
    Why not a gig of memory instead? Or even half a gig?
    How long will it take until something like this comes out?

    • iPod has a great flash memory buffer (32Mb? check the specs) ... you can shake the hell out of it and it still plays.

      I've heard great things from people using it as a workout player.
    • I rip all my CD's at 256kps, which means most albums are about 120mb.
      Only being able to carry 1 or 2 albums is pitiful; I want more variety and selection.



      Maybe you should learn about VBR. If you're ripping at 256kbps CBR you are wasting huge amounts of space.

  • As devices get smaller, manufacturers have a tendency to start using smaller batteries. The unfortunate side effect of this is...

    a. The batteries last no time at all.
    b. The bud earphones can't be driven with enough current to get the volume you might want.
    c. Switching on anything marked "turbo" bass will eat those batteries even faster.
    d. Leaving the device off for a few weeks may actually drain the battery anyway if the device uses some kind of static memory storage.

    I recently purchased a cheap ordi
    • The money-sucking battery issue led me to buy the MXP100 from E.digital (available from Newegg for 60 bucks).
      http://www.edigital-store.com/mp3-player s -mxp-100. html

      It has a small, user-replaceable Li-ion battery pack that lasts a good long time (~12hrs).

      Note for anyone who has this toy or is considering it:
      The web page & instructions tell you that music *must* be transferred directly to the device via USB using their software. This was unacceptable to me, and after plenty of email harassment, their
  • exclusive agreement? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jchristopher (198929) on Sunday April 20, 2003 @12:34PM (#5769003)
    The iPod is like 18 months old. I'm a little puzzled as to why we haven't seen more devices based on the 1.8" drive (which are now down to about $99 retail for the 5 gig model, so why does an iPod still cost $299?).

    In short, there isn't any competition, and I'm wondering why. Did Apple have some exclusive agreement that says no one else can use the drives? If typical price/performance curve for the PC industry had followed, I should be able to buy an iPod 'clone' for $150 (half the price of the Mac version) by now. Unless something fishy is going on...

  • It's only 2GB or 5GB, and it'll cost a little less than $300? How about a Nomad Zen, which is just a little bigger [yesky.com] than the iPod, but has 20GB, firewire/USB2.0, and runs only about $220.
  • So, this is the Nth time I read there's competition coming up for the iPod.

    While it's nice to know the iPod is being used as a standard everything else is measured against, it still isn't really passed over by any other MP3 player out there. Despite the roaring headlines [google.com] for the last 18 months.

    That's pretty sad for the whole industry isn't it? Or does it say something about Apple being 2 years ahead of everybody else?

    When Apple came out with the iPod I really couldn't see why they would enter an in
  • You only have two ears. It is entirely possible to simulate full surround sound with nothing more than a pair of headphones and a properly mastered track.

    The issue is whether or not a theater wishes to issue headphones to all its patrons. The problem becomes that two speakers cannot accurately reproduce the stereo field, and certainly not for many people listening at once. Same thing with a home theater... are you going to have all your family members don headphones? I think not.

    Plus the fact that DVDs ar
  • The placement of an FM Radio recorder on an MP3 player must be giving the music industry some kind of headache. While it is one thing to call some bootlegged Avril (or artist of choice...) mp3 illegal, if you recorded it and placed it on the player then it most certainly is not. And while it's impossible to tell if an mp3 on a player was ripped from a CD or downloaded, it seems like this radio recorder makes the issue even more complicated. Imagine, for example, having one of those babies in your living
  • by Drakonian (518722) on Sunday April 20, 2003 @03:23PM (#5769669) Homepage
    From the article:

    The BA1000 has dimensions that are almost identical to the iPod's. The unit comes in at a svelt 194 grams vs. the iPod's 185 grams. Dimensions of the unit are 106mm x 66mm x 31mm (4.0" x 2.6" x 1.2") vs. the iPod's 102 x 62 x 20 mm (4.0" x 2.4" x 0.78"). In both cases the iPod is still smaller, but marginally so.

    31 mm thick vs 20 mm? That is a huge difference. Thickness makes all the difference in the world in being able to carry it in your pocket. The iPod is justtt small enough. (I consider Palm Vs/m500s just about perfectly sized). An extra 1.1 cm would make this thing uncomfortable to carry in your pocket.

  • NetMD? (Score:2, Informative)

    by labil (410837)
    Last spring I chose between an MP3-player and a Minidisc player, and the choise fell on Sony MZ-N707 NetMD. It's absolutely wonderful. I transfer about 5 hours of music onto one disc, the transfer speed is definetly ok, never had a skip. All in all, I've got nothing bad to say about it, and people looking for descent portable music players should at least concider the NetMD players.
  • I've got one of those USB-controlled FM radio receivers for my PC. The software it came with was totally lame (the scheduler only knew about 24 hours, not a week, with one event on one station, and needed enough disk space to store the uncompressed .WAV files TWICE before using a separate MP3 coder to compress it), so I haven't actually used it in a couple of years (ran out of disk space, and haven't reinstalled it since I got the new 120GB drive). And my old sound card is really too lame, and the new one
  • I have an older version of the Yepp (The Yepp-NEU) and while the sound quality is good, my experience with it is generally not good. Only a few months after purchasing it, the battery cover came off, requiring jury-rigging with tape to get it to work. The spring inside is too strong and the rest of the material too fragile. Also, it originally required using Real Jukebox to load music on it, and this software just completely sucked at it, often hanging when copying or failing to recognize the player. Ev
  • new ipods soon (Score:2, Informative)

    by tantalus (466821)
    thinksecret [thinksecret.com], which is usually pretty reliable, has an article [thinksecret.com] about upcoming ipods due at the end of the month. I would wait until then if I was currently in the market for an mp3 player.

    Also, for those with ipods now, here's a link [ipodbattery.com] for buying a replacement battery for $49. Useful if your battery is starting to show some wear.
  • So they eventually got around to porting Doom [rockbox.haxx.se] to the Archos, which is nice, and unexpected [google.com]. Oh yeah, and Rockbox 2 [rockbox.haxx.se] was released, with lots of new features [rockbox.haxx.se].
  • There are now a few choices of mp3 players that can record from internal FM, but AFAIK none of them allows a person to schedule a recording at a particular time and channel. This would be a killer feature for me, as there are all kinds of shows on the local jazz station and on NPR that are scheduled at regular times and which I'd love to listen to later. Without scheduling, the FM recording is of only marginal value to me.

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