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Handhelds Media Music Hardware

Digital Music Player Overview 228

An anonymous reader writes "MP3 Newswire just posted its fifth article of its 'iPod Killers' for the holidays list. Most interesting are a bluetooth unit from Aiwa, Sony's Vaio U, and an Ogg/photo/FM broadcast record, flash unit from SAFA." See also I, II, III, and IV.
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Digital Music Player Overview

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  • by jokumuu ( 831894 ) on Monday November 22, 2004 @05:11AM (#10886327)
    'iPod Killers'

    Seems that ipod has the total "mental" superiority, as every MP3 seems to be compared to it.

    One thing that I wonder about is the digital convergence, will iPod surve with so many the new Mobile phones containing MP3 player functionality. It used to be that MP3 player phones were far between, but seems that all 3rd generation phones will contain it as standard feature.

    • by solowCX ( 796423 ) on Monday November 22, 2004 @05:28AM (#10886396) Homepage
      Apple already has that covered a.html []
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Dude, check out that car, it's a total ipod killer!
      Sweet, I wish I had a convertible, I'd be an ipod killer.
      Yeah man, the chicks dig ipod killers.
      Hey that girl over there's kind of an ipod killer, I'm gonna hit on her
      Sorry, but I already have a boyfriend, and he's such an ipod killer in bed.
      Damn, she hates me, that totally saved ipods.
      Let's go to that new bar, I hear it's an ipod killer.
      Yeah, I'll use my fake id, it's a total ipod killer.
      oh my ipod killer, look out!
      (our heroes were wearing ipod costume
    • Mentality (Score:5, Insightful)

      by zaxios ( 776027 ) <> on Monday November 22, 2004 @05:33AM (#10886412) Journal
      'iPod Killers'

      Inevitably, something that wants to be just a "product A killer" lacks the originality that made "product A" popular to begin with.

      Creativity can't be mimicked. I for one welcome any products that aren't easily defined by other products. The next batch of iPod-mimicking underlords, on the other hand, aren't so well-met.
      • Re:Mentality (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Mornelithe ( 83633 )
        Most of these products probably aren't marketed as 'iPod killers'. They're just marketed as MP3/music players. However, that doesn't make for good headlines/page view tallies on mp3newswire or Slashdot, so people feel compelled to call every mp3 player an iPod killer.

        iPods are currently the most popular mp3 player (by far), so it's easy to characterize any mp3 player in terms of an iPod. I could just as easily characterize everything as a Nomad killer, or an iRiver killer, but less people would know what I
        • Re:Mentality (Score:3, Insightful)

          by zaxios ( 776027 )
          Most of these products probably aren't marketed as 'iPod killers'

          Maybe they're not marketed as iPod killers, but I suspect they are conceived as such. From a business perspective, winning the MP3 player market quite naturally involves killing the iPod, its current holder. However, more vulnerable than the position of the iPod as the most popular "MP3 player" is Apple's position as the manufacturer of the most popular "portable media player." (Or possibly, "most fashionable gadget.") My point is that no "i
          • Re:Mentality (Score:2, Insightful)

            Any product that tries to do what an iPod does but says "hey, but it's got Ogg Vorbis playback" is likely to succeed in nothing but a small market.

            What Apple have grasped and no-one else in the computer field has is what can be called "product love". That is, the complete opposite of product checklists. It's about real design, design orientated around the user, from both a usability pov, but also from it being something that they enjoy holding and keeping. Apple owners are like Morgan, Mini and Beetle own

  • X2 MegaView (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wikinerd ( 809585 ) on Monday November 22, 2004 @05:15AM (#10886338) Journal
    The Linux-based X2 Megaview seems nice, but the site says it costs $4000 $-( Not in my range, but I suspect the competition will drive the prices down. Does anybody here uses this model?
  • by commodoresloat ( 172735 ) on Monday November 22, 2004 @05:16AM (#10886345)
    I can't wait for them to come out with the FPS game in which you kill iPods!!
  • Design, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nicholas. ( 98928 ) on Monday November 22, 2004 @05:18AM (#10886354)
    So looking at the photos of these players it would seem that Apple has hired all the designers and engineers who understand interface, asthetics and functionality.

    C'mon guys, give us something that's at worthy of competing with an iPod. I'll give you the first killer idea for free: make it just like the iPod but without the stupid glossy, scratch-prone plastic and polished metal.
    • It's been done (Score:5, Insightful)

      by commodoresloat ( 172735 ) on Monday November 22, 2004 @05:19AM (#10886358)
      I'll give you the first killer idea for free: make it just like the iPod but without the stupid glossy, scratch-prone plastic and polished metal.

      It's called the iPod mini.

    • Re:Design, (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jokumuu ( 831894 ) on Monday November 22, 2004 @05:27AM (#10886387)
      Digital gadgets seemd to fall into about 3 categories:

      Geek toys - design unimportant, need 100 impossible to use functions that are cool

      Upmarket - Stylish design, ease of use are the important functions.

      Massmarket - Massproduced and designed things that have price as most importnt factor.

      Ofcourse there are other types too, but most designs can be fitted into one of the three.

    • Sometimes I wonder if the editors even read the stuff they pick for the front page. This is one of the most empirically worthless slashdot stories I've seen in a while though.

      This "story," submitted by an "anonymous reader" (ie the author of the review), was a complete waste of time. It's nothing but a collection of PR gibberish copied from the product pages of the players being reviewed. There is nothing of any interest in ANY of the blurbs, no evidence that the author has even seen the players he's "revi
    • Hope to be getting another SD card soon; cheap off ebay and does a lot more than the ipod for a comparable price. Good sound quality with an aftermarket player, plays videos, etc etc etc etc.

      Decided I'd try one before I went all in on an ipod mini, strikes me as a lot of money to spend for something that just does music - and is very likely to be obsoleted in the near future by a 4gb flash-based iPod device.

      It's shiney metal as well.
  • by davidmcg1975 ( 811944 ) on Monday November 22, 2004 @05:23AM (#10886371)
    I think what companies don't realise that it's not really the player they have to's iTunes. When it comes down to it, although the iPod is a great player, it's really it's integration with itunes that makes it work so well.
    • well, yes, but as other companies have now set up music stores, maybe integration with one of them could help?
    • by drgonzo59 ( 747139 ) on Monday November 22, 2004 @05:38AM (#10886428)
      The competitor's iTunes are called Direct Connect, BitTorrent, Kazaa and eMule. Sometimes it is called "my friend from college that has 200GB of music and hasn't been busted by the record companies (yet!)" The usability factor is there, of course, but it is not that bad actually, and such a thing as "my boyfriend's friend who knows computers(tm)" or "my nephew who is into programming(tm)" coupled with $0 /song can make things much easier for the average consumer.
      • Drop 200gb of music into iTunes and it will happily store it into it's library.

        iTunes is merely the interface through which the iPod shines. Nothing about the situation negates the strengths of iTunes->iPod. Or if you want an analogy here, iTunes is to DC, BT, Kazaa, and eMule as a phonebook is to a service directory. iTunes just makes all 200gb of music easily accessible, and the fact that you can synch all this music to the iPod makes the music on an iPod also easily accessible.
    • I think what companies don't realise that it's not really the player they have to's iTunes. When it comes down to it, although the iPod is a great player, it's really it's integration with itunes that makes it work so well.

      According to Apple, 2m iPods have been sold and 20m iTunes tracks.

      This means that for each iPod, there are 10 tracks from iTunes on it.

      Assuming each track is 3 meg big and the average iPod is 30 gig, then you are looking at ((3*10)/(30*1024))*100 = 0.1% of a users iPod t

  • by Alaska Jack ( 679307 ) * on Monday November 22, 2004 @05:30AM (#10886403) Journal
    If I understand correctly, Apple's iTunes' architecture (at least, on a Mac) allows MP3 player manufacturers to write "plug ins" for it, so it works with their players much the same as it works with the iPod. A list of iTunes compatible players can be found here: 48.

    My question is - why is this list so short? Isn't writing a plug-in a fairly simple thing? Why have so few of the MP3 player manufacturers bothered to make their players compatible with this program?

    iTunes for Windows won't work with any player but the iPod. If Apple makes that decision, to encourage people to buy iPods, that I at least understand. But as long as the architecture is there on the Mac, why don't more player manufacturers take advantage of it?

    - Alaska Jack
    • Well, the maC market is quite small, so until the windows version supports other players, I do not see much market. Yes there is market as can be seen from the list, but of the total MP3 player market, the combination of people who use Mac and Itunes and want something else than iPod is Very low.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Well from TFA:

      Apple has refused to the license FairTunes DRM to makers of other digital portables. This way only the iPod can play music purchased on iTunes. Well iPods and any PC using the Mac OS or Windows.

      Apperently the Sony workaround was to create a very small PC but i guess there are some limits on how small you can make a Windos / Mac - compatible Pc...
    • My understanding was that other players could "integrate" with iTunes all they wanted with one exception: your player will never play stuff bought from the iTunes music store. I could be way wrong on this, but I thought Apple was basically holding the DRM keys on that one and not sharing at all. (To be clear: AAC is a standard format anyone can use, but the specific DRM used in the iTMS-bought AAC files is playable only by iPod.)

      Or have I got this wrong?
  • by Alaska Jack ( 679307 ) * on Monday November 22, 2004 @05:38AM (#10886427) Journal
    I mean, is there a technical reason (beyond the space-saving shape) that an iPod needs the kind of battery it has? Would an iPod work with regular ol' AA batteries? Or do they not supply enough juice?

    Being able to use just regular, store-bought batteries would really make an iPod a lot more appealing to me, even if they brought with them a small increase in size & weight.

    - Alaska Jack
    • get the belkin battery pack. it'll make your ipod bigger, but you'll get a lot of play time with it. there's another one on the market that uses a custom laptop battery as an addon, too. but that's even less like you want. personally i HATE changing batteries, it's a huge cash sink and also it's even more bad for the environment
    • Previously, on Slashdot... Build Your Own iPod Battery []
    • I'm replying to my own comment here -- is that bad form? -- but I want to clarify two things in response to some of the other replys.

      1. If an iPod could just take AA batteries, that doesn't mean I couldn't use *rechargeable* AA batteries.

      2. I actually know about the Belkin battery pack and all that. But I just want to know: would it technically be possible to make an iPod that ran on regular batteries, or is there some technical reason it can't be done?

      - Alaska Jack
      • I take it from your nick you're a Jack from Alaska, like me. I grew up on Kodiak. Nice to find another one on Slashdot.
    • Well, the real clincher here would be the fact that Lithium ion battery cells have a much higher energy density than alkaline, nickel cadmium, nickel metal hydride (sp?), or any of the other battery types (I can't think of any right now). So, you couldn't use "regular" AA or AAA batteries (1.5 and 1.2 volts, respectively, iirc) reasonably, without a significant mass of them (considering the ipod needs 11.1V).

      Lithium Ion AAA cells are 3V - 3.6V (I think), or so. You could conceiveably take 4, throw a resist
    • Have you seen the size of the battery in the iPod? I took my first-gen ipod apart, and the battery is a few millimeters high. AAs (and even AAAs) take up CONSIDERABLY more space. If the iPod was to use A{2,3}s, then it would be massive, removing a lot of its appeal.
  • by traffi ( 800888 ) on Monday November 22, 2004 @05:54AM (#10886477) Homepage
    It's all well and good, but it is a shame that competitors are having such a hard time producing a product that looks as cool and slick as the iPod.

    Compared to the iPod and the mini, these products are just plain ugly. (IMHO). Until the competitors manage to steal or match Jonathan Ive [], Apple's chief industrial design talent, the iPod will reign supreme.

    Since I'm financially challenged and these products are aesthetically challenged, I'll go without an mp3 player for now.

  • by Jason1729 ( 561790 ) on Monday November 22, 2004 @05:57AM (#10886486)
    This article takes a very narrow view. What about the Mini Disc players. The new HD-MD format has a 1 gig disc that costs $7. 7 bucks for a 1 gig removable media alone should give this line of players a huge boost over most mp3 players. Add in the battery life (40-50 hours on a single AA), and it becomes a great option. Hardware prices start well below the price iPod mini too.

    ProfQuotes []
    • I'm a huge minidisc fan. They've had their day. I got my first one in '98, and I used it until I got myself an iPod in '01. They've had their day. The problem is, they use removable media. With an iPod, you have 10,000 tracks in your pocket, not in your special-bag-for-your-media-player-as-it-has-no-bu i lt-in-storage. I know it's a seemingly small issue, but when you don't have the music you want to listen to on the MD in your player, you have to change the disk. Being the 21st century, I thought we
      • I look at it from a slightly different direction. With the MD player I have 50 hours of playback time in my pocket as well has 500 tracks. Adding to that 50 hours is easy by carrying a few extra AA batteries. You can also get AA's anywhere when you're travelling.

        What good is 10,000 tracks in your pocket when your 10 hour battery will only let you listen to 200 of them?

        To me the fact that I can change the media with extra discs in my special-bag-for-my-media-player is just icing on the cake. The cake
        • The thing with the iPod is not that you can listen to all your music on one charge, but that you can take your entire collection wherever you go. When I'm on a flight, all I need is my iPod. I don't have to scrabble about collecting which ever minidiscs I want to listen to on my holiday, or pack them all to have my whole collection.

          I take my iPod to parties, and with the mains adaptor/belkin battery pack and a headphone->stereo jack lead, I have (checking itunes...) 3 weeks of music. The beauty is, i

    • by CProgrammer98 ( 240351 ) on Monday November 22, 2004 @07:17AM (#10886744) Homepage
      so to get the equivalent storage of my $300 40gb iRiver I would have to buy 40 minidisks at $7 each = $280.00, I doubt I can get a minidisc player for $20.00
  • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Monday November 22, 2004 @05:59AM (#10886489) Homepage Journal
    I was thinking the other day that I may never get an iPod or similar device. I don't like using the word never, of course, but I recently stumbled across something on eBay. 4 gig CF cards for $300. 2 Gigs on Newegg are in the $200 range. With that kind of storage, I'm seriously considering skipping the whole portable music player device and getting a new PocketPC/Palm that'll use one of these cards. 4 gigs is more than adequate for my music needs, plus I have other reasons for wanting a PDA.

    Though I doubt that's a reasonable alternative for a lot of people out there, I figured it was worth mentioning. I'm really attracted to the idea of having a little 'store all my interesting media' device.

    We gots some cool stuff coming around the corner.
    • The point is, you'll pay $300 for the storage alone and you'll have to take the PDA with you just to listen music, and finally you'll get the battery-life of a PDA with a 4gig CF card attached.

      How about buying a 4Gig MP3-player and a USB host-capable PDA?

      • "How about buying a 4Gig MP3-player and a USB host-capable PDA?"

        The main reason being that I want one unit. I don't have a strong demand for a stand-alone Mp3 player. I'm near a computer most of my waking life. I already have need for a PDA. Problem is, it's not a big enough need to a.) have it right now and b.) carry it around enough for it to be useful. But if one unit both carried all my music and did my PDA related stuff, that'd be enough to dump the money into it.

        Either way, you're right, $300
    • Indeed "having a little 'store all my interesting media' device" not much bigger than just a portable audio player, but much more powerful, that's the way I like it, too. For example, you may use your Linux PDA [] not only to listen to "free" music [], but also to view "free" pocket movies [], to read a "free" eBook []. Or the other way round, even generate your own media: writing a book (actually there is Z4CK a book written on a SHARP Zaurus Linux PDA [] already available), recording voices or music, take a picture, wri
  • x2 megaview? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Monday November 22, 2004 @06:00AM (#10886497) Homepage
    Anyone have a link to anything else relating to the x2 megaview? A google search for "x2 megaview" only seems to turn up the article mentioned, and "x2 megaview mp3" doesn't do any better, with a paltry 126 results. You'd think I could at least find the product company's site, no? Must be quite a new company.

    This device looks like it's got a lot of potential to be an nice portable linux tool. I like the ability to record audio, and the fact that it has a hard disk. This'd alieviate some of the irritation of having to use an SD card for storage, as on a Zaurus. Now, if only it had a host USB hub, or maybe even an infrared port, I'd be set. USB host/client hub would be ideal, though (and, of course, a keyboard that would work with it).

    I wonder if I could run opie (or if it already has opie - doubt it, but that'd be cool) on it. I suspect it's quite capable of the task - and that too would be cool.
  • by DarkEdgeX ( 212110 ) on Monday November 22, 2004 @06:02AM (#10886503) Journal just put a table together with the product names, their suggested retail price, the type of media they use and/or built-in storage size, connectivity (Firewire/USB/etc) and their supported formats?

    And actually, I'm having my doubts that that's a comprehensive comparison/listing they've got on there in the first place.
  • Rio Carbon (Score:2, Insightful)

    That's a fifth installment and we yet to see Rio Carbon - the best player in the iPod mini market segment. I wonder how much Apple hands over so the authors don't mention the player that beats mini in pretty much everything beginning with style, size (both 3d and hdd-wise) and battery life.

    And, yes, I know there is a rebranded Carbon in the list, but it doesn't have the original's style and battery life.

    • What the fuck is up with you guys and conspiracy theories? When someone doesn't mention your favourite player, you think the company being praised has somehow paid off the writer. What the fuck?

      No. The Rio Carbon is a shitty player. It looks like someone took a Nokia phone and some tinfoil, and put them in the oven for a few hours. Read: curvy lines and selective plagiarism don't always make good design. Of course you're going to dispute this, just get back to me when someone mentions "rio carbon" i

  • sigmatek dx740 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Keruo ( 771880 )
    if that sigmatek device could use external dvd drive for dvd playback, it would make perfect device for long bus trips
    it mentions support for mpeg-2, and if the device has enough power to unpack divx, it should have enough power to run dvds smoothly aswell, and with 40gb drive, you could even play the dvds from the hard drive instead carrying the disks with you
  • I'm saving my money for a 40+ GB solid state mp3 player that is small, robust, has 20+ hours of battery life and costs less than $100. Until then my trusty old CD player will do just fine.
    • by dave420 ( 699308 )
      Were you trying to equate your CD player with more modern portable devices? If you were, good point, except that your CD player doesn't have 40gigs of storage :)
    • Uh, 4gb hd with 8hr is $250 TODAY. In a year it will be 8gb for $200 with 12hr battery life. In two years it will be 20gb for $150 with 20hr battery life. In 3 years it will be 30gb for $125 with 25hr. In four years it will be 30gb for $100 with 30hr battery life.

      But it will still be a hard drive. The 'flash' version will be, if 1gb cf is $100 today, it will be $400 for 4gb, sans mp3 player. So if it were in a mp3 player it might cost $600 today. So by the time you get a 40gb solid state mp3 player for $10
  • The problem I find with all these players is that it seems you get to choose between somewhat bulky, fragile hard drive units with a lot of storage but poor battery life, or small flash based players with at most 1gig of space. My own player, a Panasonic SV-SD80 [], is about the size of US quarter, but squared off. It weighs about an ounce and a half and I never go anywhere without it, as it is so small you can drop it in your pocket and almost mistake it for loose change. I've dropped it several feet onto hard pavement at least 10 times with no ill effects. Plus, running on its internal battery it gets 16-20 hours of run time, and with the water resistant case it comes with (which has an extra AAA battery inside) you get around 50 hours. Try that with an iPod... That being said, even with a 1Gb SD card installed (sidenote: why would anyone buy a non expandable flash player??) I only get perhaps 200-250 songs on it, which means I'm bored of the rotation in about a week.

    What I would like to buy is a player that comes packaged something like an ipod, but where the top 1/4 of it is a micro size flash based player (with an SD slot!) that contains a 1 or 2 line display, basic controls, and a small battery, and would afford the ultra-portable benefits of the SV-SD80 or similar player. For those times when you want access to your whole library, you would attach the bottom 3/4 would as 'dumb' modular add-on that simply holds a 20-60gb hard drive and a bigger battery to support it all, and the ability to shuttle songs to the flash unit as needed. Maybe even a larger (color?) display. It wouldnt need the player circuitry or controls, headphone jack etc, as that would all be contained in the flash head unit.
  • crap (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fitteschleiker ( 742917 ) on Monday November 22, 2004 @07:30AM (#10886799)
    these pieces of crap are not ipod killers. 256kb? wtf is that scheisse. now try the iriver H320 or H340 perfect for the open source warrior, plays ogg vorbis , and now with the latest firmware, Xvid video!
  • SPAM (Score:2, Insightful)

    by scum-e-bag ( 211846 )
    Sorry, but that article looks like SPAM. Especially with christmas closing in on us all. Advertising on slashdot? Who'd have thought it? I don't need junk mail in my slashdot news articles.
  • Killers.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by WhatAmIDoingHere ( 742870 ) * <> on Monday November 22, 2004 @07:51AM (#10886866) Homepage
    I used to say "I will never have an iPod."

    I used to hate the iPod.

    After going through 4 or 5 other hard drive based mp3 players in two years, I finally broke down when Best Buy said I could trade my 6mo old 20GB Archos Jukebox in for a new 4g 40GB iPod, if I pay another $150.

    I have now had an iPod for about 3 months and love it. The battery time is nothing to write home about, but it lasts from when I plug it into the stereo in my car to drive to work, my whole eight hour shift, and the drive back home. I have dropped it on a hard tile floor, and nothing was damaged, chipped or not working.

    It's a wonderful little thing, and while I may never get a non-iPod apple product, I do love my iPod.

    The only problem I've ever had with it, is how easy the case picks up little scratches while in my pocket, but that's not a huge problem.
  • It seems the name of the industry tagging game is still "iPod Killer", to me it should be tagged "iPod competitor". When you hold as much control over the market as the white devil does, toppling it in 1 swoop is unlikely. Even if your product hit it off, it would still take a while for it to reach the point of "killer".
  • What about iRiver? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Paul Slocum ( 598127 ) on Monday November 22, 2004 @08:56AM (#10887147) Homepage Journal
    I'm really surprised iRiver [] wasn't mentioned. I've got the 40GB HP-140 and it's a nice player with FM and the ability to record high quality compressed or uncompressed audio. The interface isn't as nice as the iPod, but with the open source Rockbox [] firmware being ported to several iRiver models, seems like a pretty serious competitor (especially for the Slashdot crowd).
  • by zmcnulty ( 548454 ) on Monday November 22, 2004 @10:17AM (#10887597) Homepage
    Many of the players in the articles haven't been announced for domestic (the USA for me) release.

    Just glancing over, these two m:robe players from Olympus, the Aiwa S710BT, and the Toshiba gigabeat haven't been announced for release anywhere outside of Japan. As far as I know, anyway.
  • where can i get a digital music player overview overview?
  • by Holi ( 250190 ) on Monday November 22, 2004 @12:56PM (#10889017)

Beware of Programmers who carry screwdrivers. -- Leonard Brandwein