The Wall Street Journal's Walter Mossberg starts his side-by-side comparison of the iPod and Rio Riot by saying, "If I had never seen Apple Computer's revolutionary iPod portable music player, I would think the new Rio Riot music player from Sonicblue was pretty cool. But I have seen the iPod, and so the Riot looks and works like a larger, slower, predecessor product, when in fact it has just gone on sale this week, nearly four months after the iPod."
Much like Cupertino's iPod, which is rumored to be produced by Taiwan's Inventec, the Riot carries a US$399 price tag but that's where the similarities end. Sonic Blue's player does indeed have a few plusses on its side, like a bigger screen and hard disk -- the Riot can hold over 4,000 songs, compared to the iPod 1,000+ tunes.
Whereas the iPod uses FireWire to connect to your Mac, the Riot uses much slower USB. This is both a blessing and a curse, according Mossberg because, though slower, the Riot is compatible with a broader range of computers. This is mostly due to the fact that few PCs ship with FireWire pre-installed.
Because of this difference approach, Mossberg reports that the Riot was only able to transfer 526 songs in three hours. This compared to the iPod's ability to transfer 1,000+ songs in just minutes.
Another equally damning Riot flaw is its interface, which the Wall Street journal correspondent called, in a manner of speaking, inadequate. The iPod is easy to control via its multifunction wheel, whereas the Riot's 10 buttons are clunky at best.
The best is yet to come
This come to us from the dish meisters at MacOS Rumors: "Several hints by third-party hardware product developers suggest that Apple will be releasing a significant update to iTunes in April. Many on the grapevine have speculated that this might be an indication of when Apple will be updating its iPod."
A second post on MOSR is a reproduction of an e-mail from a reader in Denmark who recently attended the presentation of Apple's new iMac. Besides saying that iPhoto will allow users to selectively import images from their digital cameras, Mikkel Hemmingsen also said that the Apple representative said the iPod will be updated by its five-month anniversary in the March/April time frame.
Perhaps iTunes 3.0 and an iPod with a 10GB or larger HDD is in the works? Perhaps this is simply latest example of groundless spin posted at MOSR?
Whatever the case, we still have the best MP3 player in the form of the iPod and, given Apple's history of updating its products every five months, it's likely we will see a refreshed iPod soon.
For in depth look at the iPod, read the IGM review by Michael Flaminio here.
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