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Handhelds Media Music Hardware

Neuros Review 179

Posted by michael
from the looking-good dept.
An anonymous reader writes "MP3newswire.net has just posted a lengthy review of the Neuros digital music portable. Just recently the company announced native Linux support for synchronizing the Neuros and we all know that Ogg Vorbis support is promised in the near future, so the unit is drawing a lot of interest. For the most part they liked the player, though they found the unit to be relatively big and heavy for a new generation portable. They also found the file transfer interface to be both impressive and glitchy."
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Neuros Review

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 29, 2003 @12:44PM (#6068950)
    Much like Slashdot!
  • promises promises. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ishin (671694) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @12:45PM (#6068955) Journal
    Ogg support? I wouldn't buy one UNTIL they actually have the support up and running.
    • Well, Vorbis support is already under way. It'll be announced when Monty is done porting Vorbis to the device.
      • While it would be a breath of fresh air to have a player that supports the best truely open sound compression standard, I've always wanted to see the money, so to speak. It's not so much that I don't believe the company won't have vorbis support in some form, but the last thing I want to see is support for it a la the support of mpeg4 in stand alone dvd player machines (simple profile only, no divx3.11 [supposedly remedied now on some players]).

        However, mainstream standalone player support helps add some l
    • On the other hand, the Rio Pearl (though it's not shipping yet) does OGG, MP3, WMA, FLAC and WAV. And crossfading. And parametric EQ. And the battery lasts much longer. And it's very small and light. And it has 100Mbit ethernet (as well as USB2.0) with a built in webserver and Java music management apps for linux users.

      What would you prefer?

      See http://www.dapreview.com for more info.

      Note: I'm biased. I'm working on it.
      • Sounds great. The proprietary, non-removable battery does put me off a bit, though, but I guess that's a compromise you have to make when you want a small device. The Ethernet feature is interesting ... does it have any sort of access control or can anyone on the same net do nasty stuff with the files? FLAC support is an important factor for me. I don't care about the lack of a recording feature, but a lot of other people probably do. I suppose this baby uses an embedded CPU (ARM?) for everything, so it'll
  • Ogg Vorbis Support (Score:2, Interesting)

    by emptybody (12341)
    If they can comeout with a timeline for ogg support and the price is competitive I will buy one.
  • Let apple know you want this on your iPod too! [apple.com]

    This is slightly off-topic, but slashdot apple while we're at it requesting ogg-vorbis support! Do so nicely, but be firm. Let them know you have music that can't be played without hacking iTunes, and you can't play it back at all on your iPod.

    Let them know your future business depends on it!

    • by PhoenixFlare (319467) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @12:52PM (#6069045) Journal
      Let them know your future business depends on it!

      Not to try and flame you, but isn't that a bit of an empty threat at the moment, considering ogg-vorbis mindshare in the general public?

      It'd be a nice "geek" feature, i'm sure, but I don't think it's really at the level where Apple will take lost business because of it very seriously.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Hmm. Let's see. If we want to support Ogg, we'll have to pay six guys for a year to add it to the iPod, QuickTime and iTunes. At which point, every nerd in the world will rush out and buy our stuff, right? Uh... wrong. Because they'll demand that it work with this "Leenux" thing they keep nagging us about. So then we'll port iTunes to "Leenux" and then they'll buy our stuff, right? Uh... wrong. Because they'll complain that our software isn't "free," even though we give it away on the web site. Yeah, I know
      • .. they'll complain that our software isn't "free,"...

        Absolutely true. Everybody knows that Windows users ALWAYS pay for software. It's a well known fact that there hasn't been a pirated copy of Windows, Office, or any other Windows Warez since 1992 at the latest, around the time Linux came about. Coincidence? I don't think so. In fact, all those Linux Warez sites are proof positive that those thieving Linux users will never pay for software. The same goes for P2P software. Look at all those Kazaa for Li
    • Here's another petition on Apple's own boards [apple.com].

      Giving it a bump certainly couldn't hurt. The people are there...and where there's people, there's money to be made.
    • Forget them... CompactFlash cards, and hard drives are far to expensive for their capacity. Not to mention that they are both power-draining monsters.

      What I want more than anything else is an Ogg player that will play files from a MiniCD. I would go for a regular-sized Ogg/CD player, but I think they would be too big for my taste, and I bet spinning a MiniCD would be far less power-consuming.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 29, 2003 @12:50PM (#6069017)
    I hope it doesn't contain any unlicensed Unix code like linux has.
  • by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79 @ g m ail.com> on Thursday May 29, 2003 @12:51PM (#6069031) Homepage
    "They also found the file transfer interface to be both impressive and glitchy."

    I always based my buying habits on the premise that the two were mutually exclusive, but I guess I'm just a picky customer.

    • Don't you know that more features makes a better product, even if the features aren't usable?!
  • Linux Support (Score:3, Informative)

    by toaster13 (36774) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @12:54PM (#6069055)
    Umm why on earth does a linux based mp3 player not have a way to sync or simply download music from linux itself? Or did I miss that while crawling all over their site?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Impressively glitchy? :)
  • Just make it work (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @12:55PM (#6069072)
    I am willing to make some sacrifices to support a linux-friendly platform. I am willing to spend a bit more. I am willing to deal with some product design issues (size, etc).

    Just make it work. I want a 100% certainty that I will be able to migrate music from my linux box to the player. No message board lurking, no sifting through google groups.

    If this product cannot reliably transfer music without copious under the hood tweaking, I am not interested.

    USB 2.0 would be a nice addition too but even on that I will make accomodation.

    • by Enry (630) <enry&wayga,net> on Thursday May 29, 2003 @01:01PM (#6069129) Journal
      If this product cannot reliably transfer music without copious under the hood tweaking, I am not interested.

      Not to be a troll (this is a serious question), but how did you ever get started in Linux with *that* attitude?
      • Ya know, there are people who can take a Linux distro out of the box, install it and be good to go. I actually know people like that.
      • I understand your serious (if funny) question to the grandparent poster, but I also identify with his opinion. There is a bit of a difference between needing to learn WTF "/dev/hda0" means when installing, say, RedHat for the first time (much less why "/dev/hda" is different, aside from one less character) and needing to pour through any google link you can find to understand why your particular sub-configuration doesn't seem to work in spite of your best attempt to read the howto / man page / limited docs
    • If this product cannot reliably transfer music without copious under the hood tweaking, I am not interested.

      Well, let's wait and see. I think it's being coded up by Monty of Vorbis fame, so it should be a quality piece of code.

      USB 2.0 would be a nice addition too but even on that I will make accomodation.

      The review said it supported USB 2?

    • Re:Just make it work (Score:3, Informative)

      by tuffy (10202)

      If this product cannot reliably transfer music without copious under the hood tweaking, I am not interested.

      The Positron synch software is requiring less and less tweaking over time. Having music be automatically detected would be nice, but Ogg's consistent handling of metadata, mp3s support only a variety of hackish id3 tags which are probably best handled outside the device.

      USB 2.0 would be a nice addition too but even on that I will make accomodation.

      USB2.0 will be a free upgrade for those who b

    • Re:Just make it work (Score:4, Interesting)

      by 2nd Post! (213333) <gundbear@pacbe l l .net> on Thursday May 29, 2003 @01:25PM (#6069316) Homepage
      So... why not get an iPod?

      You're willing to spend a bit more, and you don't have to deal with any product design issues...

      And it just works. FAT32 iPod.

      DIY [duke.edu]
      GTKPod [sourceforge.net]
  • by blamanj (253811) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @12:57PM (#6069087)
    ...is from USA today [yahoo.com]. Bottom line, Neuros doesn't match up to the iPod, at least not yet.
  • Expensive (Score:3, Interesting)

    by daserver (524964) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @12:59PM (#6069104) Homepage
    It's pretty expensive on amazon. 128mb for 240$ and 20gb for $380. You can get an Apple Ipod 10gb for 280$
    • Re:Expensive (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Actually, you can get a 10GB iPod for $199. Check Apple's web store. Look for "Special Deals". It'll be refurbished, sure, but I've had good experiences with refurbished Apple gear.
  • by gosand (234100) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @01:00PM (#6069119)
    I found today's PA comic [penny-arcade.com] kind of funny and rather fitting. I love my MP3 player, but it is a Rio500 w/128 MB of storage. I haven't seen the need to plunk down the cash for one of these big dogs yet.
    • I have a Nomad IIc with 192mb of memory. It easily holds 3 or 4 full albums. That's more than enough for my commute, I just have then swap out songs when I get home for the next day. with the extra memory card I got it for less than $100. I'd call that a steal.
  • Getting there (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dspyder (563303)
    Honestly, I'm impressed that companies are starting to get the idea that they can offer something for everyone. I think you'll start to see more devices with multiple storage options, multiple formats, etc. The next step I'd like to see (since most companies won't open source their code) is built-in "modules" so additional features (and/or hardware) can be added by third party companies. --Darren p.s. I still like my Archos Multimedia, especially for the price.
  • OOS MP3 Player (Score:5, Informative)

    by jdh-22 (636684) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @01:02PM (#6069133)
    The best part about the Neuros [neurosaudio.com] is that it based on an open architecture. Basiclly gives you the option of making it into whatever you want.

    My good friend has one, and he loves it. It is a really nice portable mp3 player. He was able to develop a program so that it automaticly sends his voice mail (in mp3 format) to his Neuros. The only thing that I didn't like about it is that it is bigger than most mp3 players. Especially when you add on the 20 gig backpack to it. Awsome features! Fm transmitter, ogg mp3 wma support, and good battery life.
    • Umm... if your friend can get his voicemail into MP3 format, then an Apple iPod has been able to play it for nearly two years...

      Likely, if you can get it into text, mp3, or aac, the Apple iPod will be able to play, display, or present the data to you. For example, using text to speech [macworld.com] the iPod can grab newsfeed headlines. Using QuickSpeech [webnation.com] you can similarly turn any text into an MP3 the iPod can play... unread emails from prospective employees? Messages from your dad? Intrusion alerts from your web server
  • by BFaucet (635036) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @01:03PM (#6069145) Homepage
    What advantages does this have over the Archos player? It's cheaper, has the same amount of drive space, and plays video.

    http://www.thinkgeek.com/computing/mp3/5b44/deta il /
  • by Arc04 (601196) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @01:03PM (#6069146)
    Just for the lazy people who can't be bothered to check, on Amazon.com right now, the 20gb Neuros is the same price as the 15gb iPod - $380.

    This means 5gb more for your money with the Neuros - you decide.
  • by Emmettfish (573105) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @01:04PM (#6069149) Homepage
    Hey, folks. If you like what you see in the Neuros, drop me a line at emmett (at) neurosaudio.com, I'll give you a discount that you can use on the website should you want to buy one.

    Also, drop me your mailing address, too; I might be able to send you extra goodies. Don't worry, I'll make sure your E-mail address and mailing address are kept private. Thanks!

    Emmett Plant
    Community Outreach
    Neuros Audio [neurosaudio.com]

    • by akb (39826)
      I'm a geeky person that supports a bunch of no budget audio reporters that use mini disc recorders. I'd love to get them to use a product like this but a mic input is a requirement for field audio reporting. Any chance of that happening soon?

      The feature of not having to capture the audio in realtime from the MD to begin editing alone would make the switch worth it.
  • lot of interest? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SuperBanana (662181) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @01:05PM (#6069156)
    we all know that Ogg Vorbis support is promised in the near future, so the unit is drawing a lot of interest

    "drawing a lot of interest"? From who? Most of the world hasn't even heard of Ogg Vorbis, people. Most who have heard of Ogg Vorbis realize it may sound better at lower bitrates, but nobody wants to re-encode all their CDs and stuff. So let's can the editorializing, okay?

    Oh, and to all the people who are rabidly trying to convince Apple via silly little petitions(I bet half a week's iPod sales are bigger than the # of people who have signed any such petition)- give it up. They've got AAC, they could give a crap about Ogg, and they've said as much. Stop trying to force your stuff on the world- if there's a genuine market for Ogg, companies will recognize the need to support it.

    • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Thursday May 29, 2003 @01:23PM (#6069302) Homepage
      "drawing a lot of interest"? From who?

      Me? I have a brand new 80gig disk and an urge to fill it. Unlike most, I didn't rip all my CDs ages ago, because I didn't have the room. Now I do. So I'm going to have lots of Oggs soon, because that is the default under Linux.

      Most of the world hasn't even heard of Ogg Vorbis, people.

      Most of the world don't buy MP3 players, natch. Considering the huge amount of support DI are getting from Xiph, it becomes a simple numbers game. How hard is it to support Linux and Ogg? How much will we get in return for it?

      There are quite a lot of Linux users around now, big enough that it can make a difference for a small company.

      • So I'm going to have lots of Oggs soon, because that is the default under Linux.
        Since when has Linux had a default audio codec?
    • by that_guy (33618) *
      "if there's a genuine market for Ogg, companies will recognize the need to support it."

      That is like saying the superior technology will win, when the truth is that the best marketed tech usually wins out. The only way to get Ogg on more devices is for consumers to show their interest. (By signing petitions, emailing, or otherwise pestering the company)
    • Re:lot of interest? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Lifewolf (41986)
      ...but nobody wants to re-encode all their CDs and stuff.

      Exactly!

      Some time ago I ripped my CDs to Ogg on an external, 40GB USB drive that I've been using at home and at work. Now I'd like to replace that USB drive with a portable player so I can also listen to my files in my car and when I'm mowing the lawn.

      I'm not interested in re-ripping my 650+ CDs into a format I don't like as much, so I'm waiting for a decent, Ogg-supporting device.

    • Ahh, /. without editorializing. That's like football without cheerleaders. What's the point?
    • If you don't believe the geek market is a big and important one, ask videogame/console makers, ask MP3 player manufacturers, and (most of all) ask George Lucas...

      I'd bet the numbers from The Matrix 2, taught Warner Bros not to let down their loyal geeks...
    • "drawing a lot of interest"? From who?

      What do you want, a show of hands?

      but nobody wants to re-encode all their CDs and stuff

      Exactly, which is why any player that can't handle Vorbis, is useless to me. I've oggenc -q 7'ed my CDs into 70 Gigabytes of Vorbis files and once is enough.

      (The only thing keeping me from buying a Neuros is that I had my share of promises and vaporware in the '90s. When Vorbis support is available in the present-tense, someone's getting my money. If that someone turns out

  • Well I've got an IPOD. The firewire transfer rocks!
    And it works with my MacOSX box and my Linux Box
    without a problem.

    I'm working on some management tools for the IPOD on Linux now.
  • I'll buy one when... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Demanche (587815)
    They let you replace the damn batterys ;)

    Until then I have my trusty AM/FM radio.
  • MyFi (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Midajo (654520)
    MyFi is Neuros' name for the novel FM broadcast feature on the player. Using this feature, one can set the unit to transmit music files remotely through an empty FM frequency on any radio. The advantages are self-evident for anyone who has ever user a cassette adapter to connect their CD player to a car radio, and it is one of the most innovative and convenient features of the Neuros.

    Wow. And wow. This is an amazingly cool idea, and not confined to the car.
    • Re:MyFi (Score:2, Informative)

      by Demanche (587815)
      The ipod has a 3rd party add-on that does something similar - but having it built in would be a plus.

      Check out an article about it here [macworld.com]

      The again - I'm still ranting about the battery issue ;)
    • Um, you can buy FM transmitters for about $30, they work with any portable stereo (or anything that has a headphone jack, really). All Neuros did was build it into their player. It's cool, but certainly no reason to buy a Neuros.

      http://www.thinkgeek.com/electronics/audio/5dab/
      https://www.myirock.com/players/300W%20-%20FM%20 Tr ansmitter.htm

      • by Xibby (232218)
        Yes, it is. It's built in. No wires to tangled around my cellphone headset and car charger, seatbelt, parking break, and whatever else happens to be between the drivers seat and the passenger door.
  • I noticed that at least twice they claim the thing has features to beat the iPod:

    "...the Neuros offers features not only unavailable in the iPod..."

    "The Neuros has features that could make it an iPod killer..."

    It turns out that the only "killer" feature I could come across was "HiSi"(records 30 seconds of radio, then tries to fingerprint it and match the fingerprint to a central database), and the reviewers found it thought random noise was "Benditos Malditos". It thought a rap song was Van Halen.

    • How about MyFi as a killer feature? Broadcast your music to an available fm station. No more car radio adapters. Easily share your mixes with your friends. Sit in class and have a few friends listening on the same station that you're broadcasting on.

      As far as the other features go, all the reviewer's experiments showed was that the hisi has problems when not used properly. The random noise test was a joke and they said that they purposely used a bad version of the rap song as a test of how well hisi d
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Why would anyone want to pay a buck a piece for a song when the radio broadcasts them for free?


        1) I can play it when I want
        2) I don't need to sit and wait through insultingly stupid DJs (the second lowest form of life)
        3) Most music isn't played on the radio
        4) Clear Channel - a big reason for #2 and #3.

      • How about MyFi as a killer feature? Broadcast your music to an available fm station.

        Well, having it built in is nice, but separate devices that connect to any headphone jack and broadcast FM have been available for a while. So simply building it into the device is nice, but isn't really a killer feature. Here's a review [the-gadgeteer.com] of one of them.
    • The feature that would make me choose a Nueros over other players is the ability to transmit FM radio. My car has no options, and only has an AM/FM radio. It also has this stupid rounded cover so I'd have to do some cutting to get a standard size cd player in there, and pay for installation. I don't even have a tape player, so I can't use a minijack to tape converter with an mp3 player. With the nueros I can just have it next to my radio, have it transmit, and I'm happy.

      PS, I'm big on Xiph, don't trust me
    • It turns out that the only "killer" feature I could come across was "HiSi"

      You are kidding, right? If you want a killer feature, being able to transmit a shortrange radio broadcast is definitely it. "MyFi" iirc, would be so useful. In the car, I have a built in radio/CD player, but no 'in jack' to the amp. So short of ripping the dash apart or replacing the stereo, I wasn't able to connect anything external to it. By broadcasting on a spare FM frequency, I can easily play my stored music back through my i

    • The iPod is elegant, small, lightweight, and has a simple, good UI(not to mention, read-only address book/calendar stuff).
      Yes, iPods are smaller than many other disk-based MP3 players, but they achieve this compactness by sacrificing features and expandability. They cost around 50% more than equivalently featured MP3 hard drive players. They have no digital line-in recording, no mic facility, no FM radio, and no easy way for users to replace or expand the device's batteries or hard drive. Unlike most of the new generation media players they also feature no MPEG 4 video playback or recording. They have a weird, all-or-nothing metadata approach to storing music that forces you to use the moderately featured iTunes freeware to utilise the iPod to its fullest instead of being able to use some other full-featured, non-freeware media jukebox software. Their battery life is shorter than (AFAIK) all other disk-based HD MP3 players. I gather from the iPod usergroups that the new-gen iPods are getting between 5-8 hours of playtime, and this is with new, fully conditioned batteries.

      On the plus side, they do look cute, and fit in most pockets easily. Well done to Apple for figuring that a large proportion of potential MP3 player buyers are not interested in advanced features, and will pay a significant premium for compactness and a simple, constrained interface.

      In the 90s, AOL similarly spotted that they could capture a large proportion of online users by offering a simple, integrated system. I think iPods are "training wheel" MP3 players for many people. It remains to be seen whether Apple can manage their new users' experience growth and release more compelling iPods using latest technologies so that these maturing users graduate to more fully-featured iPods and do not desert to other manufacturer's media player offerings.
      • Yes, iPods are smaller than many other disk-based MP3 players, but they achieve this compactness by sacrificing features and expandability. They cost around 50% more than equivalently featured MP3 hard drive players.

        Um equivalently featured? One of the major features of the iPod is the size. Beyond that, I have yet to see any mp3 player that has as elegant a solution to navigation.

        They have no digital line-in recording, no mic facility, no FM radio, and no easy way for users to replace or expand the dev

    • It's not just a receiver, it's also a transmitter. It will search for an 'open' frequency and then begin transmitting on it. It can record from radio as well, so that makes it somewhat like a Tivo for the radio.

      Most of the world doesn't even KNOW what Ogg-Vorbis is.

      I'd suspect that the same can be said of AAC. Outside of the Apple world it's not known. Most people know and use mp3 and/or wma. Not because either of them is better but because that's what they know about and that's what the tools they're w
  • by bratmobile (550334) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @02:33PM (#6069963)
    Aside from the radio features, this player looks way over-priced. I just bought a Mambo X [mambox.com] for my girlfriend, and so far she and I have been really happy with it. In a nutshell, $200 gets you 20G, USB mass-storage interface (no need to use a sync manager -- you just have direct access to the drive), MP3 and WMA support (and yes, the vendor has committed to supporting Ogg Vorbis), audio record, and Li ion battery.

    It isn't glorious or beautiful (iPods certainly are cute), but it works really well, is fast, CHEAP, high-capacity, and really light.

    And, no, I'm not associated with the company in any way. But if you are already looking at the Neuros, you should be aware that there are products that cost half as much, and have 95% of the features. (The radio thing is neat, but we don't care -- headphones are the only thing that will be plugged into it.)
  • how do these people expect to sell these products when at one point they say it plays mp3's and is a tuner. then in another seprate review it transmits music over radio.

    the description on amazon (which the article links directly to) is abhorent.

  • Does anyone know if the Neuros can be used as a regular USB hard drive as well? That is, I plug it in and it appears to my OS as just another drive that I can copy any file to (or from).

    Or can I only put music files on it using the proprietary interface/sync program?

    This is one of my requirements for any portable device. If I just bought a 20GB portable hard drive, I want to be able to put any damn file I want on it and not have to use a particular program to do it.
  • Pah! When is someone going to develop a Vorbis based music player? Where's that project to por tLinux to the ipod going?

    OK, I'm just grouchy because every indication is that all the useful software updates in the new ipods are not going to be ported back to the old versions (i.e. mine!).
    • "OK, I'm just grouchy because every indication is that all the useful software updates in the new ipods are not going to be ported back to the old versions (i.e. mine!)."
      Err, MPEG-4 AAC support was just added to your iPod.

      Sure, the new On-The-Fly playlists and the new games weren't, but I'm much happier with the new codec. The fact than even the original 5GB iPod that was released in 2001 now supports the new codec is awesome.
  • First off, this player has features that I don't want. It's impressive, I grant you, but I have no desire nor need for a built in FM broadcaster, nor for song recognition, nor for recording capabilities.

    I will buy a portable MP3 player when the following requirements are met:
    -The device must have at least 20 gig storage.
    -The device must be portable and reasonably small. I'm not talking iPod small, I could care less about that size. This one is a fine size.
    -The device must support a FireWire connection. Fsc

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