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Portables Media Music Hardware

Olympus Preps MP3 Player With Cam & Color Display 146

igrp writes "Japan-based electronics manufacturer Olympus just announced their plans to enter the HD-based MP3 player market currenly dominated by Apple's iPod. What makes this stand out from all the other 'iPod killers' are their players' specs. Their top-of-the-line 'MR-500i' model sports a 1,22 MP camera, a 3.7" color touch screen VGA display with a slick-looking red backlight, JPEG support and according to this German newssite weighs in with a battery life of 8 hours. No word on prices and availability in the U.S. yet."
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Olympus Preps MP3 Player With Cam & Color Display

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  • Redlight (Score:2, Insightful)

    by goatpunch ( 668594 )
    Useful for listening to tunes in the darkroom...
    • Re:Redlight (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dr Reducto ( 665121 )
      Except that the light still needs to be kept a certain distance from the paper until it is fixed.
    • This has to be the least funny "Score:5, Funny" comment I've seen.
    • Re:Redlight (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Also does not interrupt when taking pictures at Red Light District, though i would be little bit afraid about touch screen...
    • I realize you were talking about a developing darkroom, but I really don't like red displays. I have a sony CD player that has a red display with black text on it, and in the dark it has to be the toughest thing ever on the eyes to read. And when I need to glance down quickly while driving to see what track I'm on, my eyes are aching enough to make me just wish I liked what was on the radio.

      Why not look into other color schemes that cause less eye strain?

  • by Megaweapon ( 25185 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @05:23PM (#10529104) Homepage
    So you can take a picture of yourself listening to music? I've never looked at my digital camera and thought "gee, I wish I could plug my headphones into that!".
  • Hit or Miss (Score:2, Insightful)

    This product is going to be either hit or miss. The camera is only 1.2 mp, which isn't exactly fantastic. Let's hope that the music quality and features don't suck.
    • Re:Hit or Miss (Score:3, Insightful)

      by skiflyer ( 716312 )
      Yeah, if the camera is an freebie tossed onto the MP3 player, it may be ok.... though I'd guess most people would rather swap the camera out for some space savings. Then again I think the same way about cell phones, so who knows.

      However, if they actually charge extra for the camera portion they'll price themselves right out of the market.
    • Seriously. 1.2 megapixels, what's the point? They don't even need much space. Why no one has come up with still cameras of regular size that can plug in and download to an iPod is beyond me. There are cameras with built in hard drives though. OTOH video cameras are better off sticking with miniDV tapes, which hold about 11gb each. I suppose a camera specifically designed to hook onto the iPod might be a good idea too.
    • Neither wil stay there long and once cell phones (and mp3 players if this convergence takes off) hit the 3-5 Mp range (~2 years), the need for a dedicated digital camera is eliminated for all the point-n-shooters out there.

      It will be interesting to see how they will be marketed once this happens. Is it a camera with an mp3 player or vice versa?

  • by PIPBoy3000 ( 619296 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @05:25PM (#10529131)
    For the most part, I've found that separate devices for separate functions tend to be cheaper, smaller, and more effective. Imagine if you had to haul along your laptop, camera, and electric toothbrush if all you wanted to do was listen to some music.
    • If they were the size of a magic marker, it wouldn't bother me at all.

      . [slashdot.org]
    • Imagine if you had to haul along your laptop, camera, and electric toothbrush if all you wanted to do was listen to some music.

      That's the innovation game for ya, though. Devices get better, smaller, etc with each version. Check out the camera phone picture at the bottom of this article: Camera phone [theonion.com] Someday these things will be awesome.

    • That's why I have a printer and a scanner, the all-in-one units are quite good but I wanted a really good scanner and a printer that could do a great job printing photo's. That's not to say there are not features that can be combined. I think music and video could go together well, especially with the larger hard drives in the players these days.
      • Yes and no.

        If you translate this over to powered speakers (which contain an amplifier and speakers) you quite often get a better result. The reason for this is that the amp is specifically designed to drive the speakers.

        Another analogy (sp?), Apple Macs. They supply all the hardware you need and consequently their operating system is more stable (i.e. they have a know list of hardware to work with).

        As integration progresses we will probably see devices interracting with each other more. One would assu
    • by The-Bus ( 138060 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @05:46PM (#10529355)
      This is completely correct, of course. And the reason for this is that with all of these devices you need to make them as small as possible. Besides the obvious engineering feat of putting in laptop circuitry, camera circuitry, and electric toothbrush circuitry all inside one cellphome, the fact is, it just doesn't make sense.

      This is why, I think, there will never be a wildly popular laptop/pda combo. The PDA is supposed to be small. The laptop is supposed to be large enough to be functional. Then idiots like QOQOQOQQOO (or whatever that's called) make something in between that doesn't really do everything. I'd rather have a kickass music player instead of it having the ability to take crappy pictures as well.
      • by bill_kress ( 99356 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:52PM (#10529933)
        Actually, you brought up the biggest point to do this kind of thing. Most of these items have a certian minim usable size. Suppose you take a digital camera, to hold it steady it should be fairly large and have a little weight to it.

        So if you can take the same package and drop in a HD, all of a sudden you can reuse the controls, battery and display for an MP3 player.

        Same with a cell phone. Although the form is different, you can already have a phone that is way too small to use, so what are you going to do? stuff extra plastic in there?

        The reason for the complaints here is probably that they haven't found the right form factor yet, hard drives don't fit into a good cell phone form, and the cameras they choose are usually low-res "bonus" items, but these things will change.
      • Besides the obvious engineering feat of putting in laptop circuitry, camera circuitry, and electric toothbrush circuitry all inside one cellphome, the fact is, it just doesn't make sense.

        Besides the obvious engineering feat of putting in processing circuitry, mass storage circuitry, and 3D display circuitry all inside one computer, the fact is, it just doesn't make sense.

        PS. OK, the electric toothbrush doesn't make sense, but I'd still be willing to bet that integration makes a lot of sense. Dedicated ha
    • On the other hand, maybe they're going about this backwards. I think it would be pretty cool to have a digital camera that had some basic audio playback functions. Would that be more or less expensive to produce than an audio device with a cheapo camera built in?
  • I mean really, I was always waiting for the iPod photo, I probably would have bought one instead of my mini. Are you telling me you never had your iPod with you and said, wish I could get that on film? if Apple could get a 2MP camera onto the end of an iPod, throw in a colour display, and keep it simple they would sell very well. We all know it... least... we assume they would. Keeping in mind I said if Apple could do it, not if they just stuck one on the end, we have to keep in mind the fact that Apple
    • There are a lot of things Apple probably should do with the iPod. It's overpriced (as compared to the rest of the market), won't play formats it could (Ogg is the obvious one), is missing optical ports and any inputs (thought it was for audiophiles...), lacks the basic feature of an FM reciever/transmitter, no longer/doesn't come in the largest and smallest sizes, etc. They even block the transfer of music with iTunes... They've left these simple additions that most other players sport to third party add
      • that there are cheaper (possible) alternatives doesn't mean it's overpriced. the fact you (personally) don't see the benefits of some of the features (including things like designs) doesn't mean it's overpriced. i think the fact that the masses are buying iPods in bunches cast serious doubt on your (and many others) almost cliche-ish assertion that iPod/Macs are overpriced.

        if apple was once the dominating mp3 player but now on the decline, then your claim that apple is being stupidly stagnant holds water.

        • As I said, Apple isn't making poor business decisions, it's just unfortunate for the consumer that they leave out features. I also said the the iPod was overpriced *as compared to the rest of the market*... The average price of a player is much lower than that of the iPod. It's not a personal feeling that $300 (for the smallest model) is quite high, there are only a few other players that expensive. Most of the 20GB models from Creative, Archos, DI, Rio, Dell, Phillips, etc. are closer to $200. Just lo
          • You get what you pay for. Using an ipod is simplicity itself. You find the one song you are looking for using only one hand. You get synchronisation of your music with itunes, the best music cataloguing program there is. You get pretty good quality, pretty good service and a machine that does exactly what it says it does very well, no more, no less. You might be interested in ogg playing, fm radio stations and all that, but 95% of the market is not.

            I looked at everything in the market trying to avoid buyi

    • The problem with sticking a digital camera on another consumer device (like a cell-phone or PDA or, in this case, a digital music player) is that you have to make the optics very small and fixed focus. Which means you'll never be able to get very good pictures out of it.
    • I must genuinely be the only person on the planet who doesn't wander around going "Hey, wish I could get a photo of that". I carry a digital camera (a very small digital camera, I might add) to parties and events, and even then don't take that many photos, and it's not unusual for me not to take any.
  • by wvitXpert ( 769356 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @05:29PM (#10529168)
    1. Find hot girl

    2. Ask hot girl to listen to song

    3. Take picture of hot girl's boobies while she listens to music

    4. Profit!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    that would be this [symbian.com]

    i don't see frontpage posts about it though, perhaps they didnt pay the right people

  • by BaldGhoti ( 265981 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @05:31PM (#10529188) Homepage
    Ah, the greatest electrical engineering principle of them all:

    Low on features? Install a shitty camera.


  • by xmas2003 ( 739875 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @05:33PM (#10529212) Homepage
    www.robe-gate.com [robe-gate.com]

    Now how is your Japanese?!?

  • Why do I want a camera in my walkman? Or in my phone, for that matter?

    It makes less sense than a coffee mill [floridaree...online.com] in your gun stock.

    Oh, well, I suppose it doesn't hurt the battery life much, if they can still claim 8 hours.

    • Re:I don't get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Oliver Wendell Jones ( 158103 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @05:41PM (#10529297)
      Because, if you're like most people, you carry your phone with you everywhere you go, and leave your digital camera behind - unless you know in advance that you'll need it.

      I use the camera in my phone all the time for those times when I didn't know I'd need my camera with me (i.e., a co-worker falls asleep at his desk and starts drooling).

      You need to shift paradigms and stop thinking of it as a full-feature camera being shoe-horned into a product and start thinking of it as the equivalent of those disposable cameras you can buy (because you forgot to bring your nice camera), only without having to buy anything...
      • ... stop thinking of it as a full-feature camera being shoe-horned into a product and start thinking of it as the equivalent of those disposable cameras ... only without having to buy anything ...

        Well, if the camera adds one ounce to the weight (could be low) and adds a measly $2.00 to the manufacturer's cost (I'm sure that's low) and sucks half an hour from the battery life, then I pay about $8 extra for a heavier, fatter box with shorter battery life. That's not free.

        I guess there must be something w

      • I agree, but this difference with this MP3 player is that most people who might have been interested in a mp3 player/camera combo probably already have a camera phone.
    • Hey, us troubled loners need our coffee, too!
  • This is on cnet.. has a bit of info about availability, etc. http://reviews.cnet.com/Olympus_M_robe_MR_500i__20 GB_/4505-6490_7-31149052-2.html?tag=tab
  • by keepper ( 24317 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @05:36PM (#10529249) Homepage
    249 for the 100i
    499 for the 500i

    http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1097689832. ht ml
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Comsidering this is from Olympus, I see this more as adding an MP3 player and hard drive to a digital camera...
  • Amazing! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Noehre ( 16438 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @05:37PM (#10529254)
    Now I can have a digital camera in my cell phone, PDA, digital music player, underwear, toast, milk carton, and pencil.

    We get the point, CCDs are cheap and small now. Isn't technology grand. Now stop shoving shit into places they shouldn't be.
    • Now when they can make a 5.1 megapixel camera for under $150 maybe I will be happy when I get a DIGITAL CAMERA in my digital camera.
    • If only they could make a volks-level digicam usable in a room light without bloody tons of noise! Nah, a cam in a music player.
      • I bought a digital camera yesterday which can play mp3s. It was the best value-for-money camera in my budget range without the mp3 player.
  • So pretty soon I will have a PDA, a cellphone, and an mp3-player, all with built in cameras. To what end? Why should I walk around with all those cameras in my pocket?

    Sure, you don't have to buy them all, and you can go for a model without a camera, but it seems that every 'high-end' gizmo that comes out has to have a camera onboard to sell, while at least for me, in none of these cases the camera is a reason to buy one.


  • by eddy ( 18759 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @05:38PM (#10529264) Homepage Journal

    MP3 player + camera + color display. I think iRiver already did that [tbreak.com].

  • I'd say this is the closest to an iPod killer I've seen so far. It's not locked into WMA but can play them if you have DRMed WMAs.

    Style is the killer part here... this thing just looks great. It easily competes with iPod on style... as llong as the UI is as easy to use as it looks...

    my 0.02
  • This is good write up from PC world dealing with the Olympus MP3 Player

    http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,53123,00 .asp

  • Did anyone else have their brain spontaneously go into Christopher Lowell [christopherlowell.com] mode when reading that press release?

    With phrases like "The m:robe brand derives its name from the fact that m:robe products can be carried anywhere, anytime, allowing users to 'robe' themselves in their favorite music wherever they go." and "Their white signature color reflects the timeless beauty of white porcelainware, which, rather than making a strong style statement of its own, tends to draw attention to the beauty of the flowe
  • From press release: The information contained in this news release applies only to the Japanese market. /me packs his bags and heads for the airport...
  • Small disclaimer on the Olympus website:

    The information contained in this news release applies only to the Japanese market.

    This will probably go over big in Japan. CNET [com.com] has an article about how gadget-hungry they are there.
  • forget the shitty camera, what's the point of this? I don't buy the "cool looking" coment; I want my color displays to have white backlighting, not red. Why have a color display if the backlight is red?
  • Smaller, cheaper

    a 1.22 mp camera and a VGA screen don't kill the iPod, that is not what the iPod is for.
  • All is in vain (Score:2, Insightful)

    Until someone can come up with something equivalent of Click Wheel... Ipod has the best UI and it shows. When I'm running around with an MP3 player, I don't have time to use stylus to tap on the touchscreen nor do I have the patience to marvel at the color VGA screen in its full glory... just let me play music quickly and easily...
  • ..that mp3 players are also about style. Frankly this is the first mp3 player that I think has some level neatness, coolness and style to it to compete with ipod. Hope the usage is not clumsy.
  • Since every piece of electronic equipment i own is soon to have a shitty digital camera on it, can I combine them all and get like, one good digital camera somehow?
  • doesn't olympus use xD card?

    considering how xD hasn't seen the popularity increase as the CF or the SD cards, shouldn't olympus make an conscious effort in trying to include that capability in their products? (sort of like sony putting in memorystick slots in everything they make - laptop, tv, camera, pda...)

    i realize it's not that important to have an xD expansion slot when you got a large HD, but still...

    • Acutally, this would could be quite useful considering that you can get xD chips of 1GB (maybe larger) that would be great to use if you maybe wanted to save a little on the battery life. However, that could get a bit pricey for most users. I might like to try something like that if I wasn't using my 1GB xD card for my camera that day and could then use it for an MP3 device. That could definitely be quite useful for a small nitch market.
  • Not gonna do it... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ID000001 ( 753578 )
    Adding additional feature to a good product would be a good idea, which is what Apple is doing to the iPod now. Making it great at one thing, then slowly improve it.. Trying to stuff a camera, mp3 player and digital picture viewer together isn't going to threaten the stronghold iPod have. Unless it does both of them better then the iPod does. And with a 1.3mp camera.. don't think it will do much.
  • On the features page it says it has a high-capacity 20 Gb hard drive. Is this like Intel when they changed the name of their processors no non-techy people can tell the performance? If it had a 40 Gb hard drive would it be super high capacity?
  • More like a digital camera that can play MP3s.
    A device that has more features that are unrelated to MP3 playing than the playing itself should exclude the device from the MP3-player group.
    They should call it a multimedia device or some other buzzword so it isn't confused with an actual MP3 player.
  • by erik_fredricks ( 446470 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:16PM (#10529638)
    My Rio Karma still trounces everything else, if for no other reason than the fact that it plays tracks back without the annoying gaps that every other player out there puts in. It's even smart enough to eliminate the tiny gaps that the mp3 format includes by default.

    Show me any other player that can do gapless playback, and I'm there. Until then, I won't consider any DAP that doesn't play back music the way it was recorded.
  • Slashdot bias (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by kamapuaa ( 555446 )
    For the sake of fairness, every time Slashdot has an article about Linux or OS X, the article brief should be forced to include either the line "in a field currently dominated by Microsoft Windows XP," a desciption as a "Windows Killer," or preferably both.
  • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:22PM (#10529689)
    What is the maximum data rate it supports for JPEG playback, since most of my JPEGs are recorded at 320 kp/s (kilopixels/second.) I know that some JPEG players can't play back images that are recorded that quickly.
  • convergence? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by StateOfTheUnion ( 762194 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:41PM (#10529846) Homepage
    Why does convergence in the small device world so often seem to mean slap to vintage 5 year old technology camera on the device? 1.2Mp?

    What am I supposed to do with these images? 1.2Mp today is like including 8 track functionality or minidisc digital input on a stereo system . . .

    I think I'd rather pay less and have a smaller device that didn't have substandard features included . . .

  • Moder mobile phones. Really most of the newer models have a camera and some do music..

    So is there that much of an advantage to using this for you shitty integrated needs?

  • Okay, I nominate the phrase "iPod Killer" for the most overused tech cliche of 2004. Any seconds?
  • I still sortof swear with my Archos ; using it now for over a year, every week I record my mixing session(s) on it and it works perfectly. Sometimes I can rip a part of my mixes and works great.

    There are currently not a lot of players on the market and easy to buy in Europe. Bought the FMR20 for 310euro and my soulmate bought one 2 months later a JBR20 for 299euro. They both work like a charm.

    One had some probs in the beginning; I needed to revive it before it could be turned on. After a week it didn't sh
  • If you take a look at the GUI [m-robe.com] you'll see that it's going to be challenging. Just like your typical VCR or digital camera...

    The thing that makes the iPod so unique (and popular) is the simplicity. It's about having less, not more.


  • This isn't an iPod killer. Every day, there is a new link on /. with information about a, usually nonexistent, mp3/media player and the word "iPod Killer" is thrown out there.

    These whiz-bang multi-feature devices are not going to kill the iPod. People bought into the iPod because it does one thing really well and has a good interface. Simplicity is key.

    None of these flimsy plastic, rubber buttoned media players are going to create much of a following.

  • My phone takes useless pictures. My camcorder takes horrible stills. My digital camera takes low-res video (but 5 MP pictures).

    Isn't this why iPod (and Palm before them) did well? They concentrated on doing one thing well.
  • Without an address book or the ability to make phone calls.

    Or GPRS.

    Seems to me the difference between an MP3 player and a mobile phone is: Storage or phone gubbins.

"It takes all sorts of in & out-door schooling to get adapted to my kind of fooling" - R. Frost