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Compaq Brings Back iPaq Music Center, Drops Price 123

scaramush writes: "After initially pulling it from the market, Compaq has re-released the iPaq Music Center, complete with a $600 price drop (was $999, now $399). The size of a 17" standard component, the music center features a 20 gig HD, or as the copy breathlessly enthuses, "Enough capacity for nearly 400 audio CDs or 5,000 individual songs". Slashdot has covered similar devices like the Rio Central, which (at the moment) costs $1500. Will this price point be enough to lure users?" The site doesn't mention whether there will be any onerous playback-restriction technology included as a free bonus.
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Compaq Brings Back iPaq Music Center, Drops Price

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  • $600 off? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by EggplantMan ( 549708 )
    Sometimes the markup on these devices is ridiculous. No wonder they weren't selling in the first place, the people who would be interested in this device are the type of people that would know if they were getting hosed on it.
  • I wish Sonic Blue would continue making the Rio Receiver. It's a cheap (About $150) device that works well for most computer people that already have their mp3 music on a computer. No need to convert CDs to an internal HD like this. You just stream the music from your computer to the Rio Receiver over HPNA or Ethernet. It works very well and you can have up to 8 of them streaming from one system.

    If Sonic could bring them back for $99 they'd sell a ton. All the ones people find sell very quickly now and the prices on Ebay are going up....
    • I agree that there's a niche market that wants a Rio, but, for the vast majority of computer users (including mahself) they don't compare in portability, utility or price to mp3/CD players. I have another brand of Rio-like device (I never use it anymore so I can't even find it) which was about $200; my mp3/CD player was fifty bucks - and, should the need arise, it also plays CDs.

      I can't see how any of these devices can compete with that in a market large enough for a company like Sony to give a damn, and I certainly wouldn't pay $99 for a Rio. Maybe two years ago, when skip protection on CD/mp3 players didn't work for some inexplicable reason, it would have been a going proposition, but not today.
    • The AudioTron does the same thing and is still being sold commercially, although the best price you can get on it is $269. I understand that it's a great device if you can tolerate using SMB.
    • http://www.myirock.com/players/irock300w.htm

      It's a little FM transmitter that plugs into your device's headphone jack then transmits it to one of four frequencies between 80.1 and 80.7 to any nearby radio.

      The device could be an MP3 Player, a Tape Player, a portable CD player, and of course even a computer.

      The radio could be your car's radio, the radio in the living room, you get the idea.

      And it's only $30 bucks... (but the transmitter is to the radio, the better the quality. The best use of this is to hear MP3 Player music through your car's speakers. Many even have a tape deck so it's an excellent alternative to Car Casette Adapter--which iRock also makes..)

      They sell these at Radio Shack.
      • "IRock" is not really like the Rio Receiver at all.

        What you describe is merely an FM Modulator.

        Rio Receiver's and the like play a file stored at a remote location (usually a hard drive on your local LAN) over ethernet or HPNA at their full quality.

        FM will introduce lots of distortion and loss of audio signal.
  • w/something as powerful as the ipaq, rather than trying to cram as much space as possible into it wouldn't it be cool to have a service to connect to w/it a la mp3.com or roadrunner rhapsody [rr.com]?

    maybe 802.11 could use some more developers?
    • Well actually, it'll connect to something Compaq calls "internet radio" whatever that is.

      I'm listening to Rhapsody radio right now. At the lo-fi setting, it has some sort of weird harmonics going on. At hi-fi, I'd be hogging a significant portion of the bandwidth at work. :]

  • Where or not $399 becomes _the_ pricepoint for people to start rushing in to buy Compaq's (isn't it HP already?) new toy, it all boils down to the utility of that toy.

    Yes, it may be able to hold 400 songs. But if the RIAA has its way, it will make all the owners of the new toys PAY DEARLY for it - perhaps being tagged with labels like "pirates" or even worse, being charged in courts of "stealing intellectual properties".

    It's us who have to be blamed, for we let scumbacks from RIAA and friends to RULE the world. We should have being pro-active, that is, even _before_ RIAA got its way, we should have make it IMPOSSIBLE for them to get their way through that stupid congress and the greedy son-of-the-bitch who lives in the White House.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Bill Clinton supported DMCA and signed this bill into law.

      So before you start your criticism, might as well aim it the right way.
  • Does anyone know if it is relatively easy to put a larger drive into this thing? 20GB is cool, but 60GB would rock!

    • 20GB is cool, but 60GB would rock!

      But remember, it doesn't need to keep a copy of the operating system and applications on the same drive, so you gain 5-10 GB right there vs. a PC solution.

      Anyway, how many CDs do you have? At 192,000 bits per second (which has been shown to be transparent [r3mix.net] for stereo audio, even on good speakers), 20 metric GB equals 160 billion bits equals 833,333 seconds, or 231 hours. Assuming each CD is one hour long, I infer that you must have a huge collection. How big is it?

      • I personally own at least 200 CD's (meaning actual plastic discs) plus gigabytes and gigabytes of downloaded stuff. So 20GB would probably be fine, since I have plenty of stuff that I never want to listen to again. 60GB would leave more "room to grow", however.

  • if you read the article, down at the ^2, theres a statement that 'Home network file transfers, analog recording of LPs, cassettes, etc., and S-Link changer control will be available via a free, automatic upgrade available in the near future.'
    Translation: If it works, you'll get it, and we'll update your software without telling you :)
    • I find a quote that reads:

      Easy to share music from your PCs (available through an automatic future feature update)

      I read this to mean that you can pull mp3s from your PC, but not send your mp3s to your pc. Thus, if you want them in both locations, you have to rip them on the PC and transfer.

      • Okay, that makes more sense, but they need to be clearer on the features. One of the links isn't working, so maybe that woud better explain this.
    • Yeah, repost this article when they get the networking working then it is a product for me... I'm not getting this thing unless I can transfer my mp3s and oggs on my existing wired or better yet, wireless network.

      The price is attractive, maybe by christmas?
    • Not only that, but of their 10 features/benifits, 5 of them are tagged with the ^2 disclaimer....

      Of course, we all know from microsoft that it's much easier to sell systems on features that aren't really there than to actually build them in completely sometimes!
  • What about SliMP3? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by danro ( 544913 ) on Saturday August 17, 2002 @10:52AM (#4088712) Homepage
    Why not use the much cooler (geekier) SliMP3 [slimdevices.com]?

    And get cool stuff and an even cooler open source project to participate in / benefit from.

    And, no, I am not affiliated with Slim Devices in any way.
    I just think it's neat.
    Guess I just can't resist the bright, bright VFD...
    • by hrieke ( 126185 ) on Saturday August 17, 2002 @11:16AM (#4088776) Homepage
      Yes, it is neat, but:

      1 - needs to be plugged into a network

      2 - needs a PC on to stream the music from

      3 - needs a stero reciever in the room to drive the music.

      Not saying the SliMP3 doesn't have a place, but for me, I'd perfer to have my music collection in a single unit that I can carry with me.

      Now on the downside it appears as if (and this is looking at the flash demo) that they can track information about your music listening habits - and I see an ad on the top of a screen shot (buy 1 get 1 half off - on the Create Playlist screen shot).

      I also wonder if I can select which CDDB I get my data from?
      • I have to agree that it's a nice looking device. Not suitable to my current living situation (since the Computer and Stereo are in the same room anyway) but something that might appeal to me should I ever decide to get a place of my own instead of sharing. The following quote from this [slimdevices.com] page surprised me a little bit:

        Welcome to the future of music! The SliMP3 (Slim-'pE-'thrE) is a revolutionary approach to music playback, which frees you from the hassles of fragile, expensive Compact Discs. (emphasis is mine)

        I was still under the impression that you were supposed to buy the music you store in a compressed format. At least thats what vendors of such devices usually claim. Converting my CDs to mp3s has not made them cheaper for me - after all I have to spend the time and harddisk space in adition to the purchase price.
        • The SliMP3 (Slim-'pE-'thrE) is a revolutionary approach to music playback, which frees you from the hassles of fragile, expensive Compact Discs. (emphasis is mine)

          Converting my CDs to mp3s has not made them cheaper for me - after all I have to spend the time and harddisk space in adition to the purchase price.

          Hi. I'm the guy who wrote that sentence.

          I don't know about you, but I have a large collection of CDs that I've amassed over the years. They are fragile, and they are expensive. Converting my music to MP3 (and listening to them on the SliMP3) has certainly saved me money.

          Rather than having to replace a CD when it gets lost, scratched, or "pitted", I now have a permanent archive of all the music I own (mirrored onto a pair of cheap 120G IDE drives FWIW). I no longer need to lug my CDs back and forth between the car and my office, living room, and bed room. Now I just fire up the SliMP3 and listen to whatever I want. If I want to enjoy my music in more than one room (RIAA forfend!) then I can do it without having to duplicate my music or carry storage media around. Just plunk it all on a big HD and access it anywhere on the network.

          I think it's obvious that for anyone with at least a moderately sized music collection, who listens in more than one place, you're going to save a LOT of money and headaches... especially if you have a propensity for losing and scratching things like I do.
          • I don't question the usefulness of your product. I do however still think that, unless you steal your music, that MP3 products vastly improve handling of the music, but don't make CDs any less expensive. I rip every new CD I buy and put it on my portable MP3 player, but unless the rate at which I lose CDs suddenly increases I will never recoup the cost of said player that way. In the ten years I collect CDs I have lost two to bad handling. I dropped a cuppoard on one while moving and the other one got scratched so badly only half the songs will play back without skipping. The rest of CD loss is due to lending them to someone and not getting them back. A simple notepad helped me drastically reduce the number of CDs that vanished that way.

            I am not flaming your product. I think it looks really interesting and is actually something I might get sometime. For your car/office situation it doesn't help though, does it? You'd still need another product for that - another product that increases the total investment in MP3.
      • Yes, it is neat, but:

        1 - needs to be plugged into a network

        2 - needs a PC on to stream the music from

        3 - needs a stero reciever in the room to drive the music.

        1 and 2 are also the main advantage of the slimp3. You can stream music to multiple slimp3's in your home, from one computer. This means you maintain one mp3 collection, and you can listen to it on your computer, out in the living room, upstairs in your bedroom, out in the backyard, or wherever else you put a slimp3. And each device can be listening to a different song, OR you can click a button on the slimp3 server, and sync up all devices to the same playlist, to have the same music playing all through your house.

        As for #3, it doesn't require a stereo system, merely powered speakers. That's also why it costs $150 less than the rio (it's only $249).

        The server is currently written in Perl, which makes it very easy to hack on multiple platforms. I coded in some cool functionality the day before a party so that I could do some custom stuff with the the playlists (allowing people to walk up to my laptop during the party, and request their favorite song to play next).

        I love my slimp3! Now they just need a slightly higher-priced WiFi version, so I don't have to buy a separate ethernet-to-wifi device for each slimp3.
    • I just ordered my SliMP3 last night. Had looked into several such do hickies, but given the ease of use and open source roots, along with a slick enough look, nothing could compare with it for me. I mean how cool would it be to be able to attach a WiFi bridge thingy and stream MP3 from my Linux box!! I can't wait to get mine delivered!!
    • it's 10base T, which as they sort of acknowledge, only works if you use 160 kbps or less encoding. Since I (like many) use 320, this device would not work for me -- I need my full duplex 100 speeds to stream my files. I also don't see why anyone would seriously be marketing a device limited to 10base t these days, but whatever.
      • A 10BaseT line runs at ten million bits per second.
        A 320kbps MP3 datastream requires (only) 320 thousand bits per second.
        You could stream roughly thirty concurrent different music streams at 320kbps each over a 10baseT ethernet line.

        There may be a bitrate limitation in the SliMP3 device itself, but the ethernet wire, even if it's "only" ten megabit line, connecting the SliMP3 to the server is not the bit-rate bottleneck.

        -Mark, a 192Kbps kind of guy
      • it's 10base T, which as they sort of acknowledge, only works if you use 160 kbps or less encoding. Since I (like many) use 320, this device would not work for me

        WHA? 10 base T == 10,000,000 bits per second. MP3 at the highest quality == 320,000 bits per second.

        Where, exactly, is the bottleneck? SliMP3 handles 320kbps, no prob whatsoever.
  • I'm currently working on building my own ethernet based mp3 player. Using minimal hardware, I can get it to fit on a 3" x 5" notecard and have analog, two digital coaxial (both isolated), and one digital optical outputs. Total cost is about $150 (buying each part in single quantities and excluding labor costs). This only means that all of these mp3 players are jacking consumers.....
    • Care to share more information on this? I've also been thinking about putting together an mp3 box, and would be interested to hear what hardware you're planning to use and what kind of setup you're making. Will it just stream mp3s from across your network, or will it include a big HDD to store them locally? Have you considered how noisy it will be? What measures have you taken to reduce this (choice of processor, fans, HDDs and so on)?

      • Re:Mark up (Score:4, Informative)

        by Celvin ( 601177 ) on Saturday August 17, 2002 @11:59AM (#4088949) Journal
        For this I would take a look at the MP3-Box HOWTO [tldp.org]. It describes a setup for a networked mp3 player, with low noise and everything.
      • I was just thinking about this, because I saw the price of the ipaq and thought - at first - "Wow, that's a cheap price." Then, I thought, "Well, actually, couldn't I do everything it can do with my old P233MMX?" Then I thought, "Uhh, wait, my minitower isn't exactly portable."

        So, here's my solution: buy a used laptop [ebay.com] for between $250 and $700, or buy a Multia [ebay.com] for between $50 and $100.

        Neither makes any noise, both support Linux/NT4, and both have minor expansion capabilities. The laptop is more portable, but the Multia is more powerful.

        You know what would be really cool? An old iBook. Those things would be plenty fast enough for any job, plus you could run OS X on it. Then, if you wanted to take your music with you, you could. If you wanted to use it as a workstation, no problem. Or, if you wanted to stream music across the network, that'd work fine, too. You could even do it wireless using AirPort.

        Well, anyways, that was my brainstorm. Lots of people say that you should never buy a used laptop, because they fall apart in several days or are always missing critical parts, like the battery. That's probably true, but everything in life is a chance. I've never gotten screwed too badly on eBay.

        p.s. my definition of portable might be different than yours. Get a Sony DiscMan if you want to go jogging with your music.
    • If you can, i would also like to learn more on this... looking into building either a handheld ogg player or an mp3 player.
  • the price drop should tell u something. if they thought it was worth $600 more before why do they suddenly change their minds? Did they find a huge flaw in it that no one else has realized yet and they want to get rid of as many of them as possible?
    • the price drop should tell u something. if they thought it was worth $600 more before why do they suddenly change their minds? Did they find a huge flaw in it that no one else has realized yet and they want to get rid of as many of them as possible?

      It doesn't necessarily tell us anything more than the price drops that accompany almost any technology out there.
    • Let X be number of persons willing to purchase product at $1000.

      Let Y be the number of persons willing to purchase product at $399. Note that Y >= X.

      From these assumptions and the other assumption that all product sellers wish to maximize profits:

      1000 X + 399 (Y - X) > 399 Y


    • iPod.

      Same price point, same features, but fits in your pocket.

      Who would pay $1000 for a VCR-sized box when a pocket-sized one costs $300/400/500?

      Mine's plugged into the hifi through the Aux input, and plugged inot the car vaiaan FM transmitter. Otherwise, its in my pocket wiht headphones attached.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 17, 2002 @10:56AM (#4088722)
    I was in a focus group a couple of years ago for this thing. They asked us how much we would spend on it, and I said $300-400, so they kicked me off the focus group. Most people said $500-1000.

    My reasoning was that I could put together a cheap linux box for $300-400 (at the time I had done two like this) for playing mp3s on a stereo. $400 is much more reasonable than $1000 for this thing, but the difference in a $400 computer two years ago, and today is pretty significant. Though the form factor and (hopefully good) user interface may make this worth more.

    Finally, I hadn't heard this was pulled from the market, but kicking people off the focus group when they say things that you don't want to hear is a good way of getting a false sense of the product. "Let's get rid of everybody who would pay less than $700, then we can tell the suites the price point is $1000."
  • I'm surprised (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Krapangor ( 533950 )
    that they can openly sell a device which only purpose is to create illegal copies of music.
    Won't the RIAA attack them with legal killer drones ?
    Well there is some "free" music out there, but this stuff is mainly free because noone would be so foolish to buy it.
    • You're pretty funny.

      I've got a Rio Receiver so I can easily play random songs from my 1500-or-so CD collection.

      Strangely enough, it does manage to play music that I bought from a store. The Compaq unit most likely would, too.
      • yes, isn't it funny how most people associate MP3 players with stolen music. As soon as they get over this and realize that digital music storage/playback is way better than physical storage/playback the music industry and it's customers can move on.

        • As soon as you hook an 'MP3 Player' up to a quality playback system (somthing better than your PC speakers) it become obvious that it's 'way worse' not 'way better.'

          lost adjective
          1 syn see DAMNED 1
          rel incorrigible, irreclaimable, irredeemable, irreformable, unconverted, unregenerate; graceless
          2 no longer possessed
          • As soon as you hook an 'MP3 Player' up to a quality playback system (somthing better than your PC speakers)

            What makes you think that my sound card isn't plugged into a medium-high-end receiver and speakers?

            it become obvious that it's 'way worse' not 'way better.'

            NO. Tests performed by r3mix [r3mix.net] show that 192 kbps LAME [sulaco.org] encoded audio is transparent to the human ear. Your concept of "mp3" seems to be stuck at "128 kbps encoded with MusicTrash Jukebox [musicmatch.com]".


            Conversion of the original analog sounds into 44.1 kHz stereo 16-bit linear PCM is itself lossy. Even conversion into 2.8 MHz stereo 1-bit PCM (Sony Super Audio CD) is lossy. It's a matter of how much loss you are willing to accept. For instance, the median *NSYNC fan wouldn't care if her copy of her favorite song was 64 kbps mono MP3.

          • If you can hear the difference then you will use either higher encoding bits or analog recordings but most of the listening public can't hear/notice the difference.

            Like the auto industry where you can buy a porche, ferrari, etc or a toyota, ford, etc depending on your driving needs, the same applies to the audio industry. Heck, BetaMax is still used today because of the quality it presents....

    • Was that a troll?

      What is illegal about making copies of my own CD collection for my own personal use? Is it illegal for me to make cassette copies of my CDs? To make CD copies of my old vinyl records? I guess I should forget about running for congress now, huh?
  • Multiple rooms (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kriegsman ( 55737 ) on Saturday August 17, 2002 @11:00AM (#4088731) Homepage
    Here's what they've gotten right: average folks are starting to embrace the put-all-my-CDs-on-a-hard-drive and listen-to-them-from-there model. And $399 is a much better price -- not just cheaper, but better: it's more in line with what other stereo components cost.

    But for me, there is one big thing missing from this setup: if you want music in the living room, and in the study, and in the bedroom, you have to buy three of these things, and rip your CDs three times each. If one of these boxes could feed a Rio Receiver or a SliMPEG [slimdevices.com] over ethernet (wireless perferred, of course), I'd be much more interested. Central storage, distributed independent playback.

    • Re:Multiple rooms (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This may be what you are looking for: The AudioTron [turtlebeach.com] from Turtle Beach. It plays MP3 files from your network, and MP3 streams from the Internet. The street price is about $270.

      The great thing about the AudioTron is that it can can pull MP3 files from a Linux box running Samba. The Rio Receiver, on the other hand, needed Windows-based server software running on a Windows box in order to work.

      It can also play Shoutcast and Icecast streams, and has a browser-based interface in addition to the front display. (No TV display, however...)

      From their "Features" page:
      • Plays digital audio stored on networked PCs and Network Attached Storage devices.
      • Plays Internet radio streaming audio in MP3 and Windows Media formats.
      • Plays digital music files in MP3, Windows Media (WMA) and WAV formats.
      • Supports music libraries of more than 30,000 songs.
      • Works with Ethernet 10/100 and HPNA 2.0 networks.
      • Analog and digital optical S/PDIF audio outputs for audiophile music quality.
      • Integrated web server for PC control via web browser.
      • Remote Control lets you assign up to 20 preset buttons for instantly accessing your favorite songs and Internet radio stations.
      • Familiar CD-style controls, including random play, repeat play and song grouping.
  • by mahhy ( 10505 )
    if they release one of these in polished aluminum / silver / steel / not black, i'd consider purchasing one.
  • Wait till you see what I am about to release. It will blow your mind. Burn and rip and share. Open Source. Stop me if you think you can. HaHa.
  • Audio formats (Score:2, Insightful)

    by I_am_Rambi ( 536614 )
    Uses MP3 format at compression rates up to 320 kbps. Enough capacity for nearly 400 audio CDs or 5,000 individual songs.

    Does this mean that I can only use mp3 format? How about wav or Ogg Vorbis?

    I would not spend $400 on one of these. I currently have 25 gigs of storage that I can use for whatever, and supports all music formats. Thanks to a Linux file server, and winamp, and free cd ripping software. Why would someone want to spend $400 when I put together a better file server that cost under $100?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      mmmm yeah wav... that makes sense...

      Perhaps people would buy one because it doesn't look like an ugly-ass pc with a nice noisy fan.
      • not to mention a friendlier UI and database storage/retreival system. Like the Anonymous Coward mentioned, there's probably lower/no system noise and a high end audio card. And a remote.

        This is for the masses and not geekdom but geeks can like it too. Maybe it's hackable.... Ogg anyone?

      • WAV doesn't make sense, but FLAC [sf.net] does. FLAC is a lossless audio encoder which typically achieves 2:1 compression on ordinary music files (such as WAV's ripped from CD's). That is roughly 50% more than 320kbps MP3. For the audiophiles, it is an attractive option.

        Phatnoise [phatnoise.com] makes a car MP3 player that plays FLAC files. Of course, the words "car" and "audiophile" usually don't go together, unless we're talking about rich dudes who ride around in limousines, drinking champagne, listening to Beethoven, and ruling the world using a cell phone.

    • Why would someone spend $400 on it when you can put together a better file server for under $100? Because not everyone wants a stereo system that looks like a technology garbage dump. Some of us want good looking products in our home, that we can control with a simple on-off switch and a volume control. Not everything in this world has to feel, look and smell like a Linux box.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    the Archos Jukebox 20. Same storage, 1/10th the size. You get portability with the only sacrifice being the need to hook it up to a PC to manipulate files. Not to mention the fact that the Archos Jukebox is $100 cheaper...
  • All the hardware and software parts to do this yourself are already out there, mostly for free. Fetch an old pentium out of the trash, qet your own 20G HD. You already have a CD player and probably a sound card in the thing. You might want to hack with the power supply/cooling to reduce fan noise. Here is an example of why a slower machine would be better.

    Since you probably don't want a video monitor atop your stereo, add an ehthernet card so you can remote manage it, or read the serial port console HOWTO. Install Linux, install mpg123 and cdparanoia, check out The linux remote control project [lirc.org] to learn how to add infrared remote capabilities, and there you have it. Since it's on a LAN, you can access songs over the network, and vice-versa.

    You could even build this thing diskless and access everything over the LAN, which would make it really quiet. Check out The etherboot page [sourceforge.net] for booting over a LAN, or consider a flash memory drive (more money, but simpler to implement).

    I'd have done it myself by now if there weren't 10^6 more important things to work on.
    • You'd need a simple user interface, like and LCD screen and a few pushbuttons. check out This LCD interface to a linux box [sourceforge.net] for an example. There are surely many other examples out there.
    • I'd have done it myself by now if there weren't 10^6 more important things to work on.

      You've just illustrated why the linux route is patently stupid. It's time consuming and will actually end up being more expensive than just buying someone's $400 box that requires about an hour to buy, install and use.

      Maybe once somebody develops a hi-res colour LCD touchscreen that can be mounted in a double-height drive bay, sells for $50 and can be programmed and driven without X windows the "linux pc as entertainment center" *might* actually be worthwhile.

      Until then its something that's only practical for the 18-24 set who have the free time equivilent to that of a man stranded on a desert island.
      • don't forget that if someone does put such a system together and is willing to share, a bootable CD with all this on it (ala DemoLinux) THEN you'd have something for the masses.

        1) Get that old Pentium 120 out of the trash, add soundcard X or Y, a 50G HD, CD-R drive, NIC, IrDA(ttyS0), and LCD(ttyS1).
        1a) cut power to PS fan and add low RPM/noise fan
        2) insert bootable CDROM of GnuPAS(GNU Personal Audio System) and boot.
        3) remove bootable CDROM and start feeding your own CD's and/or feed it MP3's via NIC.

        You'd still have an ugly box though. If only I had the funding....

  • "Eliminates the need for bulky CDs, tapes and LPs. Frees up CDs and tapes for use in the car or portable players."(2)

    (2) Home network file transfers, analog recording of LPs, cassettes, etc., and S-Link changer control will be available via a free, automatic upgrade available in the near future.

    So in other words it will be connected to the net, from which I think we can realistically infer that it will title all your tracks that you record into it, and send that information to persons unknown. Same Internet connection to be used for 'automatic updates' (and I think you can bet your life the thing will not work without a net connection).

    So in other words, Say Hello to DRM.
  • From the product description:
    Lets you listen to Internet radio stations from around the world.
    Of course the internet radio staions are from "around the world". All the US ones are being shut down!
  • I think it's very important to note that as it ships, all it can do is rip the CDs you already own. Wow, be still my heart... Sure it will support audio in and "home phone line networking" (whatever that is) at some undetermined future date, but on Day 1 it will be a $399 CD player. And if you own CDs then it's safe to assume you already have one of these...
    • Re:Wait a minute (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Actually, it would be closer to a $399 400-CD (more if you can upgrade the HD) changer, since once everything's ripped you can go through and play any album or song on it. Still a bit overpriced (a quick check at circuitcity.com shows a Sony 400-CD changer for $299), but it is definitely NOT the same as a $30 CD player.

      Oh, and some of us actually buy CDs instead of freely and illegally downloading them...
    • Home Phone Networking [webopedia.com]. A boon to people with too many phone lines, and not enough ethernet drops.

  • Because of the recent RIAA sillyness, I'm asking people to be evangelists for local music. Go listen to bands, push the ones you like to your friends. Buy CDs at concerts if they're selling them, rip them and listen to them on your portable instead of ill-gotten corporate junk. Download samples from local artist sites and share them with your friends. Flood Gnutella and its like with music that the artists WANT to share.

    The best defense against the RIAA is to ignore the products of their members!
  • HP bought Compaq and are sorting out which products to keep and which to biff. HP's de100c Digital music cente is clearly a superior product so they're ditching the Compaq product. This will most likely also mean no support, no upgrades and no point in buying it.
  • by asv108 ( 141455 ) <asv@ivoss. c o m> on Saturday August 17, 2002 @12:15PM (#4089002) Homepage Journal
    I've seen quite a few of these devices with storage built in, but for the home you just can't beat a device that plays off of network drives. The fact is most of the music enthusiasts who would be willing to take the plunge on a home MP3 device already have some type of home network set up. There is no advantage to having media files stored locally on the device, its only redundant.

    There are 3 network players that I know of, one which has been highly publicized on /. is the SliMP3 [slimdevices.com]. The other device, which has been around for quite some time is the Turtle Beach Audiotron [audiotron.net]. There is also one made by RIO.

    I recently bought a network player after a few weeks of wrangling I decided to go with the Audiotron since I already had samba set up and I wanted and SPDIF connection which the Slimp3 does not offer. Anyway, you can check out my review [phataudio.org].

    • There is no advantage to having media files stored locally on the device, its only redundant.

      I don't agree. I've been looking into building an mp3-stereo-component and I'm sure I'll include a large HDD in it.

      If it can only play from a network source, you'd always need a machine online to provide the music. I can't afford a separate pc for this, so it would mean the songs are played from my desktop machine. This would mean no music when the desktop-machine is offline (rebooting, installing, turned off because it makes to much moise, etc.). This would defeat the purpose I'm building the mp3 player for, to have a silent device that can play my music any time I want to. The device should at least be able to cache a few hours worth of music from the network. Ofcourse it will be able to read/write to the network too.

  • Now that everyone and their grandpa has a "hi-fi" in their living room the marketers must have been running out of incentives to get people to upgrade their stereos. This product seems to be the perfect opportunity to get people in on the next wave: Lo-fi. Maybe people will be inspired to downgrade their speakers to miniature computer models and ditch those pesky Monster Cables once and for all, once they hear the lo-fi results that you can get from mp3s played over a proper audio system.
  • they canned the entire audio group the day before the merger was official - is this to get stagnant inventory out the door? how can component prices drop enough to drop the price by over %50 and still make money? there's no revenue stream after the sale like with consoles games. i wonder if they were faced with tossing a boat load of now-unsellable components or moving them out at a loss...
  • by 90XDoubleSide ( 522791 ) <ninetyxdoubleside.hailmail@net> on Saturday August 17, 2002 @12:37PM (#4089100)
    is that most people who are interested in making an MP3 library of all their music already own a computer, and it's hard to compete with the $4.99 price tag on this alternate solution [radioshack.com] for playing your MP3 collection on your stereo.
  • Check it out:

    http://www.kenseglerdesigns.com/cgi-bin/UltraBoa rd/UltraBoard.pl?Action=ShowBoard&Board=MSNCompani on&Idle=&Sort=&Order=&Session=
  • They specifically didn't mention being able to bring in mp3s from an external system. I'm fearing that customers will actually have to sit down and have the machine rip each of their CDs.

    This would make it more difficult to pirate music, though it'd never really stop it.
  • "Enough capacity for nearly 400 audio CDs or 5,000 individual songs"

    I like audio books, how many Libraries of Congress does it hold?

  • I note from the spec that this device claims:
    • Hooks up to stereo equipment allowing you to digitally record old LPs, cassettes or 8-tracks.

    The one thing missing though is 802.11b connectivity. I don't have cat5 running to my hifi/video gear. Wireless connectivity would go a long way. Cringley has similar [pbs.org] ideas [pbs.org]

  • "The site doesn't mention whether there will be any onerous playback-restriction technology included as a free bonus."

    Well, as a matter of fact, some of the key ADVERTISED capabilities will be "available via a free, automatic upgrade available in the near future.

    So, whether or not playback-restrictions are currently in force, they could easily be added as a "free, automatic upgrade" in the near future.

    There is precedent for this. For example, owners of the REB1100 eBook device at one point discovered that they could no longer download any commercial eBooks without an easy, automatic firmware upgrade--and the firmware upgrade just happened to disable the REB1100's previous capability of downloading personal content (e.g free Project Gutenberg eTexts, HTML content captured from the Web, etc).
  • Has anyone seen anyone selling stereo component sized computer cases? I've considered rolling my own convergence device, but the last thing I want is to have a tower case sitting beside my TV.
  • The Audiotron is a stereo component styled device from Voyetra/Turtle-Beach. The major advantage it has is that it has no hard drive, it reads data from your windows or linux pc (set up for file sharing). They have a beta/discussion mailing list that has provided fantastic support, and it's come quite a bit since software version 1.

    This thing is absolutely great, works with Windows, Linux, NAS devices, etc. You can rip your music anyway you like (mp3 and microsoft formats only), use shoutcast servers, etc......

    Around $300.....

    Product info: http://www.audiotron.net/audiotron/producthome.asp

    Mailing list archives: http://maillist.voyetra.com/audiotron.html
  • The site doesn't mention whether there will be any onerous playback-restriction technology included as a free bonus.

    The obvious solution to the copying issue is to require the user to insert the original CD into the unit while songs from that CD are played from the hard drive, as verification that the user has the correct rights to play songs from that CD. ;-)

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard