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Rio Announces Networked Ogg Vorbis Player 356

Alexander writes "Rio has announced several players, among them the Karma 20GB Ogg Vorbis music player, which also sports Ethernet as the preferred connection method. Is Ogg Vorbis finally gaining industry acceptance?" There's more information on the new Rio line-up via an article at The Register.
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Rio Announces Networked Ogg Vorbis Player

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  • 40GB, too! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Arthaed ( 687979 ) < minus threevowels> on Monday August 11, 2003 @03:20PM (#6668258) Homepage
    And don't forget that according to this [] link, there is also going to be a 40GB for around $499!
  • by Thinkit3 ( 671998 ) * on Monday August 11, 2003 @03:21PM (#6668275)
    Cynics are numerous and void of ideas. Ignore them. I hope Rio is giving to Xiph for using Ogg (I hear Xiph takes contracts to develop for a particular hardware), but anyone getting one of these should be donating. If Rio says they are giving a portion of the proceeds to Xiph, I'd be even more likely to buy from them.
    • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Monday August 11, 2003 @03:28PM (#6668371) Homepage
      anyone getting one of these should be donating.
      I can hear those "Flamebait" mods being cocked already, but ... in a word ... why?

      If Xiph wants to make money off Ogg, they should sell it. If I want to donate money, I'll donate it to cancer research or something.

      • ...but someone else may donate twice what your share should have been.
      • why?

        Theoretically: because you care about the outcome and can make a difference. Because giving to Xiph is a way to make the world become more like what you want it to be.

        If I want to donate money, I'll donate it to cancer research or something.

        Hey, fine, whatever is most important to you, back it.

        In my case, I care more about Xiph than cancer research. The reaper must come for us all, and I don't think I'll escape him in the end. But I think I do see a way for programmers and users to avoid ever

        • In my case, I care more about Xiph than cancer research.

          Yeah, royalty free audio codecs are much more important than a cure for a horrible painful disease that kills millions. I'd would gladly give up years of my life (spent with friends and family) to keep programmers from having to pay for use of an audio codec. WHEN YOU ARE BURNING IN HELL, REMEMBER TO REQUEST THAT YOUR SOULS SCREAMS ARE RECORDED IN A PATENT FREE FORMAT.
  • Rio Car (Score:5, Informative)

    by SuperQ ( 431 ) * on Monday August 11, 2003 @03:22PM (#6668282) Homepage
    The software that runs on the thing is based on the software used in the Empeg linux player.. the Karma runs linux, and has a usb2 hub, not a client.. lots of hack potential.
    • And with the possibility of paying $1399 to SCO...
      I'm still worried (not) about SCO making me pay $1399 for my tivo. (yeah.. i know.. it's not a 2.4 kernel)

    • Re:Rio Car (Score:5, Informative)

      by pdh11 ( 227974 ) on Monday August 11, 2003 @03:29PM (#6668379) Homepage
      Unlike some previous Empeg/Rio products, the Karma does not run Linux. It runs Ecos, the popular open-source embedded OS. The firmware isn't designed to be modified like the Rio Central or car-player was.

      (It always used to gall me slightly that the Rio Central and car-player were described as "hackable", with the implication that people customising them were outwitting us in some way, whereas in fact we put a good deal of effort into making them geek-customisable...)


      • (It always used to gall me slightly that the Rio Central and car-player were described as "hackable", with the implication that people customising them were outwitting us in some way, whereas in fact we put a good deal of effort into making them geek-customisable...)

        You shouldn't feel that way. The label of being "hackable" makes the device more desirable for a lot of us. Let us feel like we're doing something dirty and get more sales in the process. Sounds like a good deal to me.


        • The label of being "hackable" makes the device more desirable for a lot of us.


          A definite good thing in this forum, where the difference between a hacker and a cracker is appreciated. And someone who deliberately makes hardware that is flexible is appreciated, not scorned.

          But in the world at large, hackable is regarded as a negative attribute, something that allows vague unknown bad people to do bad things to MyComputer.

          It's sad that there is such a large gap in understanding what "hackable"

      • Re:Rio Car (Score:4, Funny)

        by TrippTDF ( 513419 ) <> on Monday August 11, 2003 @04:07PM (#6668742)

        -This should be a marketing buzzword in a few years.

        However, you will only see it used to cover up a bug:

        Engineer: I still can't get the user interface to work right.
        Marketing person: That's OK, we'll just say it's geek-customisable, for the advanced user.
    • It doesn't actually run linux, unfortunatly. The sofware is based on the Empeg, wich runs linux, but the karma doesn't.
  • Not a dupe! (Score:2, Funny)

    by wfberg ( 24378 )
    We'll have to wait for a dupe until ThinkGeek [] starts selling it..
  • Finally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ttyp0 ( 33384 ) on Monday August 11, 2003 @03:23PM (#6668306) Homepage
    This is exactly what I've been waiting for. There are lots of great MP3 players out there, but most depend on USB. I want something that I can use with my stereo system, and running a 30 ft CAT5 is much easier than 30ft of USB cable. Now only if it were 802.11. I think this device will definately have me looking at Ogg.

    Anti SCO T-Shirt. [] $1 donated to OSI Fund on each shirt.

    • Re:Finally (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anil ( 7001 )
      Maybe someone can hack it so that you could use a wireless USB NIC on the USB2 port. I guess it depends on if the device has a usable USB output port or a crazy one that takes a customized USB converter cable (haven't seen enough pictures to tell).
  • by mao che minh ( 611166 ) * on Monday August 11, 2003 @03:24PM (#6668316) Journal
    The site doesn't jive with Mozilla (all jumbled up and the menus/DHTML is attrocious), therefore the company must suck.

    Oh, it plays Ogg. Well, if't less then $20 I'll buy it!

  • Competition rocks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by squarooticus ( 5092 ) on Monday August 11, 2003 @03:25PM (#6668324) Homepage
    Even though Digital Innovations got my money for being the first out of the gate with Neuros [] support for Ogg Vorbis, competition is always a good thing, and having more players that support Vorbis means lower prices and less potential for lock-in or obsolescence.

    Ogg Vorbis destroys MP3 in terms of quality, and is competitive with all of the newer proprietary codecs (e.g., AAC, MP3Pro, WMA) at high bitrates while providing much better performance than those at low bitrates (e.g., sub-64kbps).

    Don't let the intelligentsia decide whether Vorbis is the right codec for you or not: the free market will decide this question, and as a result of this development, that market just got more interesting.
    • by grazzy ( 56382 ) <grazzy AT quake DOT swe DOT net> on Monday August 11, 2003 @03:32PM (#6668411) Homepage Journal
      who cares about low bitrates, i want my cd-quality.
    • Sadly the Vorbis support in Neuros is very much still in beta, and completely unlistenable on any tunes above quality "5". Unfortunately, this covers nearly all my Vorbis collection and so the wait for a finalized firmware update is frustrating. I hope Neuros will get that firmware finished and add some FLAC support in the process (which should be considerably easier than Vorbis, since FLAC is all integer-ops already).

      If this new Karma player can handle all the Vorbis quality rates and FLAC - out of the

      • Re:Competition rocks (Score:5, Informative)

        by pdh11 ( 227974 ) on Monday August 11, 2003 @03:57PM (#6668656) Homepage
        If this new Karma player can handle all the Vorbis quality rates and FLAC - out of the box - I'll be picking one up.

        We tested Karma with Vorbis bitrates up to 256Kbits/s VBR. Anyone using Vorbis at higher bitrates than that should IMO be using Flac.


    • Ogg may destroy the competition in terms of quality, but it wasn't designed with computing power in mind. You don't see ogg in every portable for the same reason that you don't see divx in every DVD player.
    • The nice thing about the Neuros is the "backpack" system used, which will allow users to upgrade to USB2 and/or a bigger hard drive in the future.
  • by Eric(b0mb)Dennis ( 629047 ) * on Monday August 11, 2003 @03:25PM (#6668329)
    Using ethernet to transfer the data seems like it's a great idea and long overdue in the portable media player market...

    Although with the advent of firewire and usb2.1, it doesn't seem that big anymore
  • by ilsie ( 227381 ) on Monday August 11, 2003 @03:25PM (#6668333)
    They all look like they were designed by Mike Brady.
  • In a pocket-sized box, I'd be looking for Wi-Fi rather than a cabled connection. USB would suffice for music transfers over a cable.

    Of course, if its got Ethernet and runs Linux, it'll be hacked into a server in about ten minutes after it's been released to market.
    • >>In a pocket-sized box, I'd be looking for Wi-Fi rather than a cabled connection.

      And in short order, you'd be looking for an electrical outlet to recharge it. The power demands of wifi considered with the size limitations of the device makes the idea of a pocket-sized wifi mp3 player impractical for all but short durations.

      The idea is interesting, though allow me to shift into Devil's Advocate role for a moment... wouldn't this device, if it transmits music via Wifi, effectively be a low power radi
  • Looks like this one does MP3s as well, so you don't have to worry about MP3s you already have. Of course you could convert them, but you lose more quality (lossy-to-lossy conversion loses more than either original encoding).
  • by scorp1us ( 235526 ) on Monday August 11, 2003 @03:29PM (#6668377) Journal
    I have an old empeg. No longer made, but they still find time to make refinemenats toit. They are a bunch of linux geeks like the rest of us. Since Tremor (the fixed-point Ogg decoder) came out, there's not been any reason to not have Ogg. They've got a tight code base too, and if they can find the time, the old empeg people might get the capability to play Ogg, which is something I've been requesting a while. But these discontunued products are last on the priority list. The 3.0 alpha code plays on the player, and when it goes beta, we (empeg owners) might just get Ogg...
  • ipod size comparison (Score:5, Informative)

    by morcheeba ( 260908 ) on Monday August 11, 2003 @03:29PM (#6668383) Journal
    RioKarma 20:
    20G 2.7 x 3.0 x 0.90 = 7.29 inch^3 5.5oz

    ipod specs []
    10G 4.1 x 2.4 x 0.62 = 6.10 inch^3 5.6oz
    15G 4.1 x 2.4 x 0.62 = 6.10 inch^3 5.6oz
    30G 4.1 x 2.4 x 0.73 = 7.18 inch^3 6.2oz

    So it's pretty comprable size-wise and breaks from the pcmcia 1.8" hard drive mold (0.20" x 2.13" x 3.37") [] that defines the ipod.
  • by __aamkky7574 ( 654183 ) on Monday August 11, 2003 @03:30PM (#6668393)
    This is great, just as long as Rio improve their build quality and service. I've had two Rio Volts; the first started pausing for no apparent reason. The second works, but is plagued by minor tics, a battery case that never stays shut, huge startup times, jumps in sound and skipping even when playing MP3s.

    After the third remote control broke, and I tried to buy a new one from Rio itself (rather than Amazon, where I bought it) it turned out that not only would they not ship items from their e-store, they would even accept a non-US credit card it (when I tried to buy and have it sent to a US friend to send on to me). Needless to say, I'm not impressed by a company quite happy to take foreigner's money while giving them a shoddy service.


    • I also have two Volts (90 and 150), and while they work quite well with MP3 CDs (esp. after flashing with the iRiver f/w), they're very temperamental with Audio CDs. Which I find strange, I would expect a dinky little gadget like that to choke on a file system sooner than on an established CD format that's been around for twenty years. Still, since you can get the 150 for $35 now, they're still worth the money. Of course, the Riot I got for $130 will also hopefully be worth the money :-)
  • From the listed specs, it appears that this device is almost exactly the size, shape, and weight of two boxes of paperclips side-by-side.
  • Drat! (Score:5, Informative)

    by bytesmythe ( 58644 ) <> on Monday August 11, 2003 @03:31PM (#6668403)
    Trying to find a music player that does what I want is annoying. The closest I've seen so far is the Neuros [], actually.

    The problem with the Karma here is it doesn't appear to have a radio tuner, unlike the Neuros. The Neuros also:

    • Broadcasts on a locally unused FM frequency so you can transmit it to a nearby radio.
    • Record and encode MP3s from any source (internal radio tuner or line-in). [I have been told that recording to OGG is a possible future firmware update.]
    • The syncing software is being ported to linux.
    • If they come out with a higher capacity, you just get a new storage "backpack". No need to buy an entirely new unit.

    The main thing the Neuros doesn't have that I would like is a line-out, but oh well. It does nearly everything else I'd want.

  • by jalano ( 309339 ) on Monday August 11, 2003 @03:33PM (#6668423)
    "Powerful tools include cross-fader..."

    Does this mean we *finally* have a portable mp3 player (non-cd based) that can play back gapless recordings? This is one of the few features that has held me back from buying an iPod.

  • The answer to this question is irrelevant. The real question is "Is Ogg Vorbis gaining consumer acceptance?" It doesn't matter if the music industry thinks Ogg Vorbis is good, as long as consumers aren't using it. And the answer to the question is a definite no. How many people talk about ogg sharing, the same way they talk about mp3 sharing? How many casual music downloaders have heard of Ogg Vorbis, let alone know what it is? As long as these numbers are low, products for playing ogg files will fail, and the industries acceptance of Ogg Vorbis won't matter, until consumers play ogg's instead of mp3's, and know that they are using ogg's.
    • by iabervon ( 1971 ) on Monday August 11, 2003 @03:54PM (#6668626) Homepage Journal
      The consumer has already come to think of "mp3" as short for compressed digital music. This doesn't mean that Vorbis doesn't have a chance, though. Once the industry has accepted it, consumers will use it, even if they don't realize that their "mp3"s aren't actually mp3 at all. People will download and play Ogg files without knowing the technical details. People already don't know the difference between avi, wmv, and mpg, and really don't know that there are tons of different sorts of mpegs; there's no reason audio won't be the same, with nobody understanding or caring what format they're using, so long as it works, and always calling it "mp3" regardless of what it is.
      • This makes me remember, in the early days of the internet when the people with internet access were lucky and most geeks used BBS system. The clueless people here in brasil would call any image of gif. There were BBS with a gif download dir, usualy filled with porn jpegs.
    • MP3 is just another word in most people's vocabularies now. It's similar to "Kleenex vs. tissue" or "Q-Tip vs. cotton swab". When people say to go download an MP3, they really mean download some music in miscellanious format.

      I would sooner take an ogg than an mp3 anyday though ;)
    • Products playing for ogg won't "fail", because they can also play mp3 and any other format the designer wants to add.

      The unwashed masses can download low quality mp3's all they want. I prefer to rip ogg's off my cds and won't buy a player that won't play them.

      Successful devices will be any two of: cheap, flexible, or high quality.
    • The answer to this question is irrelevant. The real question is "Is Ogg Vorbis gaining consumer acceptance?" It doesn't matter if the music industry thinks Ogg Vorbis is good, as long as consumers aren't using it.

      You would think that is how it should work but (un?)fortunately it doesn't. If a ogg is going to be accepted by the consumer that means the industry has to support it first because they control the vast majority of the infrastructure used to play music. Consumers other than us geeks aren't goi
    • by zerocool^ ( 112121 ) on Monday August 11, 2003 @06:37PM (#6670311) Homepage Journal
      as long as consumers aren't using it. And the answer to the question is a definite no

      it's being picked up, more so than you'd think.

      Historically, formats like this start out underground (witness mp3 on IRC back in the day, or divx 3 years ago). But, reading places like the Divx forums, people are really starting to take notice of oggs. It's becomming integrated into the current view of compressed music.

      Just give it a little bit. It'll be popular.

  • FLAC Support Too (Score:5, Interesting)

    by asv108 ( 141455 ) <.asv. .at.> on Monday August 11, 2003 @03:41PM (#6668503) Homepage Journal
    From the Rio Homepage

    Powerful tools include cross-fader, 5-band parametric equalizer, Ogg Vorbis and FLAC support, and a huge, backlit display capable of visualizations, animated menus, and 16 shades of gray.

    Now this is a reason to celebrate! I can get rid of my audiotron and my portable for one system that supports OGG and FLAC. FLAC support is huge for the thousands of people who download [] and share [] legal lossless music.

    • Re:FLAC Support Too (Score:3, Interesting)

      by greg_barton ( 5551 ) *
      Now this is a reason to celebrate!

      I totally agree. I discovered FLAC about a month ago.

      I'm now in the process of re-ripping my entire CD collection.

      Even vs. MP3 at 320bps there's a huge difference.

      I can hear harmonics I couldn't hear before. I can hear the singer breathing. I can hear the clicking of loose piano keys.

      It makes the music come alive.

      I ain't never going back. :)
  • But does it play...oh, never mind.
  • But is it 10 or 100 mbps ethernet? Everything USB device I plug in now seems to require more power than my hub can give it. If I could just copy the files over to it with ethernet the world would be a better place.
  • by SandSpider ( 60727 ) on Monday August 11, 2003 @03:44PM (#6668539) Homepage Journal
    Quickly! To the Stores! Or to the Online Merchant of Your Choice!

    Since this is exactly what you've been calling for, I expect this thing to outsell the iPod in a week or two. I mean, Ogg Vorbis is the super format that's been the only thing keeping a legion of geeks from buying an MP3 player, right? Go hang a salami...I mean, hang Interface and Availablity, it's all about the Ogg.

    Mind you, if this doesn't sell like hotcakes, well, Vorbis won't have been quite the driving market force that you'd been preaching, will it? So you might want to by 5, just in case. Don't worry, if the market's there, you'll be able to sell them on ebay, sometimes for more than you'd bought them for. If the iPod is any benchmark, that is.

  • Marketing folks must hate putting "Ogg Vorbis" on things. It could easily be confused with onomatopoeia for vomitting.
  • The player itself looks great, and just might be worthy of my money in the next year or so.

    The site, though, works like crap in mozilla. Can anyone post links to the menu-driven pages that we mozilla users can't access? I'd like to know if they're planning on making it OS-agnostic with the ethernet interface. Maybe a crappy web-based upload thing to be hacked into a little FTP server or something would be terrific.

  • How about we finally get ogg support in digital video players, too?

    More and more video is being encoded as OGM (Ogg Media Stream) which usually involves xvid-encoded video and ogg-encoded audio; I can attest that the quality is superb but there is one clear downfall: at this moment, no DVD player or portable media device can play the format, thus requiring you to watch such encoded video on your computer.

    I look at this development as good progress towards finally getting something that supports both ogg a
  • by steveha ( 103154 ) on Monday August 11, 2003 @03:54PM (#6668623) Homepage
    According to several articles I have read, such as the one on [], the Rio Karma will have USB 2.0 as its native interface; it will also come with a dock that will plug into an Ethernet network.

    If you can just use standard file server protocols (NFS or SMB, I don't care) to put files on the Karma, I will buy one. If you have to run some modified jukebox app to move the files, so it can wrap your files in DRM junk, I won't buy one.

  • Am i mistaking, or wouldn't playing Ogg Vorbis files instead of MP3 files result in decreased battery time since it may take more processor time to decode these files. Is this an issue to anyone?
    • In a word, no.

      I play both regularly on my iPaq (200mhz ARM). Using the libmad decoder for MP3 and Nicholas Pitre's integerized Ogg library (NOT tremor), I see about 10% utilization for MP3, and 8-10% for Ogg. (I say 8-10 as conservative padding. In practice, believe it or no, Vorbis always hangs lower.)

      Keep in mind that the libvorbis libraries most folks use are a reference implementation. Once Vorbis is properly optimized, it's really quite light on the resources. These guys are probably using tremo
  • by heli0 ( 659560 )
    Does this link: tem_main_Rio.asp?model=220&cat=53 [] display properly for anyone usng Mozilla? I am using 1.5A and the menus(which don't work) are displayed on top of the specs which run off the window.
  • by Steev ( 5372 ) <> on Monday August 11, 2003 @04:00PM (#6668684) Homepage
    I have been listening to ogg vorbis files for months now using my Palm Zire 71 [] and Aeroplayer []. I got myself a 256 Meg SD card and I was off to the races.
  • Okay -- admittedly, ethernet support is a very good thing, but IMO that just means it has a useful interconnect system available.

    The more important question IMO is what protocols does it support over the ethernet connection? NetBIOS/NetBEUI? TCP/IP? Some custom protocol? If TCP/IP, does it support NFS? FTP? NetBIOS over TCP/IP? Something else?

    The poorly designed/formatted website doesn't give much information in this regard. I'm assuming it's TCP/IP based, but even then, you need something that will

  • if they're going to put OGG Vorbis reading support in some of their products, I really wish they'd consider their older lines too. My RioVolt SP250 is attractive because it plays MP3 and WMA CD's, but it would be totally killer kick-arse if it also played OGG CD's. They already have the code for playing it on a hard drive-based system--how hard could it be to port that and make one last upgrade to the SP250 firmware? Until I see Rio supporting older hardware (and, in the case of my RioVolt, still among the
  • iRiver too (Score:3, Informative)

    by GarfBond ( 565331 ) on Monday August 11, 2003 @04:14PM (#6668823)
    Visiting the site in Mozilla breaks (firebird nightly and moz1.4), but Opera 7.11 on Win seems to work just fine, for those of you refusing to hit up IE.

    For what it's worth, iRiver (the same people who make the original RioVolt line and the current SlimX and flashplayer things you find at Bestbuy) just made a news release detailing their Ogg efforts. 7 []

    Essentially what they're saying is that Tremor is too big for their embedded devices (read: CD players and flash players). I suppose this can be an excusable claim, depending on the device. However, I'm really disappointed their hard drive doesn't include Ogg support, as a hard drive is a bigger and heaver item, and it shouldn't hurt too much for them to include Ogg support on the ROM.

  • source code? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doppler00 ( 534739 ) on Monday August 11, 2003 @04:38PM (#6669067) Homepage Journal
    I think the least a company who implements the Ogg Vorbis protocol should do is donate some small percentage of profits from each sale to to support continued development. Not that they have to (do to it being patent and royalty free) but it would be a nice gesture.

    Is Rio required by the Ogg Vorbis license agreement to release the microcode they used to implement this protocol? It would be interesting to see what kind of optimizations they used such as special DSP instructions.
    • Re:source code? (Score:5, Informative)

      by pdh11 ( 227974 ) on Monday August 11, 2003 @04:55PM (#6669215) Homepage
      Is Rio required by the Ogg Vorbis license agreement to release the microcode they used to implement this protocol?

      No, it's BSD-licensed.

      It would be interesting to see what kind of optimizations they used such as special DSP instructions.

      Actually we use the Tremor (integerised) Vorbis library almost completely stock -- it already came with optimisations for ARM. The only thing we've really had to take a hitting thing to is its memory allocation.


  • iPod comparison (Score:5, Informative)

    by mnemonic_ ( 164550 ) <> on Monday August 11, 2003 @05:46PM (#6669738) Homepage Journal
    Here's a specification comparison with an equivalently priced (both at $399) iPod... info from dapreview [], an excellent respository of specs of hdd audio players which reported on the Karma aka "Pearl" months ago.

    Capacity: 15GB
    Weight: 5.6 ounces
    Formats: MP3 AAC AIFF WAV
    Interfaces: Firewire 400
    Battery Life: "Over 8 hours"
    Extras: Games, Contacts, Calendar, Alarm, Sleep Timer, Clock, "20 equalizer settings"
    LCD: 160x128 backlit

    Capacity: 20GB
    Weight: 5.5 ounces
    Formats: MP3 WMA OGG FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec making WAV not needed)
    Interfaces: USB 2 and Ethernet
    Battery Life: 15 hours
    Extras: Dynamic playlists, Dual RCA Line-Outs, 5 band equalizer
    LCD: 160x128 backlit

    Seems like if you want purely a music player that is conveniently-sized, supports OGG and has 25% more capacity than the iPod for the same price, the Karma is the way to go. The iPod's perks are tempting though, if you want more than just a music player.

"Conversion, fastidious Goddess, loves blood better than brick, and feasts most subtly on the human will." -- Virginia Woolf, "Mrs. Dalloway"