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Music Media Handhelds Hardware

Collectors Snap Up Early MP3 Players 183

An anonymous reader writes "It looks like vintage MP3 portables are the hot new collectible for old radio connoisseurs. On the cover of this month's edition of Antique Radio Magazine is Sony's first DAP, the Vaio Music Clip. The cover article is the second part of a series showcasing the first players by Sony, RCA, I2Go, and Intel (remember the Pocket Concert?). Part one, which was published in the December 2004 edition, covers the first flash unit the Eiger Labs MPMan F10 (the Rio PMP300 was second), and the first hard drive player the Personal Jukebox PJB-100. CNET also wrote about these first players last January, offering more details on the MPMan and the PJB-100"
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Collectors Snap Up Early MP3 Players

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  • These nostalgia cycles are getting shorter and shorter. How much nostalgia can you really have for an outdated piece of hardware that appeared and disappeared 2 years ago?
  • Title is incorrect. (Score:4, Informative)

    by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @12:36PM (#12323128)
    This is about digital music file players, not just MP3 players. The article even mentions that the first item, the Sony, would not play MP3's.
    • by Dogtanian ( 588974 ) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @12:51PM (#12323243) Homepage
      This is about digital music file players, not just MP3 players. The article even mentions that the first item, the Sony, would not play MP3's.

      Nothing much changed there, then.
    • They also make it sound like Sony learned from this first mistake, when in fact they kept putting out ATRAC3 only players until last year IIRC.
      • Their new flash players don't play .mp3 either. They say they do but what they do is everytime you move your .mp3's onto them it encrypts them and converts them to a "Sony only" .mp3 format to prevent you getting them off the player.

        I know that their software is compatable with, and can convert all mp3s, but isn't 100% compatable one of the great computer lies?

        Glad I've got an iPod.

        • by UWC ( 664779 )
          Just for reference, my PSP plays mp3s without changing the format. I know it's not exclusively a digital audio player, but figured I'd throw that out. It plays both MP3 and Atrac3, and I've used it to transfer MP3s between two computers and they came out at the other end with their original format intact. I also have a Sony CD Walkman that plays MP3 and Atrac3 CDs (and has AM/FM/Weather/TV radio tuners). That thing gets some amazing battery life out of two AAs. Instead of my needing to recharge the PSP ever
        • Actually that sounds like a good idea. If you can't get the files off then you can't take copyrighted MP3s from your own computer then put them onto someone else's computer. I'm surprised that more people haven't thought of this, sounds like a good aid in the fight against piracy.
      • Learned from their mistakes? Betamax, DAT, ATRAC3... It doesn't look like they'll ever learn.
    • As I recall, Sony did advertise it as an MP3 player. They just didn't explain you had to convert it to Sony's proprietary format using their special software first. They could have owned the market had they not done this (and continued to do it until very recently).
    • So old CD players as well?
    • mp3 player has become the generic name for all these gadgets. It's must easier than saying "digital media player" or "digital music file player".
  • Damn, that makes me feel old. I guess I should keep my RIO 500 then, which BTW still works great and still has one of the best MP3 player UIs.
    • i replaced my nomad II with a rio500, and even though it had fewer features, it was a good sight better of an MP3 player.

      gave it to a roommate when i got my ipod, and im pretty sure he still uses it when he jogs.
    • I've still got a PMP-300 :P

      It's got a problem with the battery clip, but apart from that is fine :D
      • Mine did the same thing, the case really didnt hold up to the constant use.
        • yep, still have my 300 too, it's been a while since i used it, but i think my battery clip was a bit wonky too. it was useful for a while, but i kind of got sick of the same music repeating ad-infinitum.

          (I got in the habit of loading it with new songs every evening before going to bed so i could pick it up & take it straight on the train.

          I gave up using it after a year, the lack of memory (oh wow, an extra 32 meg in the flash!!) really shitted me off after a while.
          • I have a Rio 300 PMP Special Edition sitting on my desk right now (the green translucent one). It has 64 megs of space. It only works on one of our computers (the software requires Win9x and a parallel port), though. That thing is fucking durable. I've dropped it from great heights and it even got soaked through during a camping trip. As soon as it dried out, it worked just fine. However, it was a pain to transfer songs to it.
            • i have to agree with all of the above, though i haven't tried drowning mine (yet).

              only tip is to make sure you have ECP (or better) enabled on the parallel port in the bios as that speeds it up a helluva lot.

              but nowdays ffs my digital camera has more flash on it than my rio ever did (ok, in a SD card, but still)
    • I love the UI on my rio 600. Unfortunately, the software doesn't work on my mac, so now it's just a plastic box with 11 NOFX songs i can't change.

      But the UI is still nice :)
    • I still use my rio 500 too, though it shows some wear and tear, the silver color has almost worn off and now it is starting to look like ipod with almost white shade.
      I've managed to kill the device twice while transferring files to it when the battery was low.
      Luckily I still managed to find the re-flash prog for the gray checkerscreen problem that was made to fix some bad firmware flash type situation.
      I tried it and it fixed the player both times.
      I haven't had any problems with the battery cover. I keep min
    • by shokk ( 187512 )
      Check the prices on Ebay. Collectors may be snapping them up, but prices aren't that high. Basically they are talking about $20 in your pocket for that old player. It's only going to make a scratch in the price of a new iPod, so you'd better hawk a lot more stuff if you want a shiny new player.
  • heck, it might be worth 10.000 someday.
  • yep (Score:3, Funny)

    by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @12:38PM (#12323142)
    >>> (remember the Pocket Concert?).

    Sure. I have one. Anyone wanna buy it?
  • I once had one of those MP-Men. Interestingly in germany it was labeled as a Schneider MP-Man" []. Y'know, the company that brought you the Schneider CPC [] back in the 80s.

    I sold it for 50 a year ago. It was kinda cool, but honestly I don't regret it. It was too big, had too little Memory and couldn't handle any other files except plain old MP3. It was pretty much an early adopters gadget...
    • Lest I forget, it was a total pita to get songs on it since it connected to the parallell port and used a proprierty protocol. I bet there is a Linux project around somewhere by now, but still, it was slo-o-o-o-w!
  • I'd take that Sony VAIO clip over an iPod shuffle any day ;) It looks miniscule...
    • But an iPod shuffle is a sexy white *and* plays MP3s, what more could you require?
      • But an iPod shuffle is a sexy white *and* plays MP3s, what more could you require?

        You make it sound better than my girlfriend:

        * Sexy
        * Plays MP3's
        * Has volume control
        * Can be spontaneous
        * Can follow orders

        Now lets see - spend the money on an ipod shuffle and have enough music to last all eternity, or spend the money on my girlfriend to possibly ensure that the human race can continue to last for all eternity...

        Tough decision.
    • I'd take that Sony VAIO clip over an iPod shuffle any day

      Just about to write something like this, the article explains why it failed.

      Mostly because Sony players did not play MP3 files at all, but files formatted in Sony's competing ATRAC3 format.

      Now that sucks, but nowadays, they'd have to put in MP3 capability, and converting has become much easier. But overall, I just like the look of the player, I would buy one.
  • by Beautyon ( 214567 ) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @12:44PM (#12323197) Homepage
    Who has ever heard of an original SONY Walkman going for collectors prices?

    There are some on ebay [], for the princely sum of $11, meaning they are just hovering above junk now.

    The same thing will probably happen to these 1st gen digital players.
  • N Sync and Faith Hill on a five year old MP3 player....they deserve each other.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Remember this?
    No wireless. Less space than a Nomad. Lame.

  • Heh (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 23, 2005 @12:50PM (#12323239)

    "Hell! I remember when I listened to Mp3's in 64kb!! They don't encode things like they used to."
  • Dr. Who (Score:3, Funny)

    by sonixtwo ( 878390 ) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @12:52PM (#12323249) Homepage
    Did anyone see the second episode of the new Dr Who series? It was called The End of The World, and the Dr. and his assistant went to the future. WHile there, some future people bring out a jukebox and say "An ancient source of historic IPod!" (or something like that). Kinda funny.
    • Re:Dr. Who (Score:4, Funny)

      by mikael ( 484 ) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @01:10PM (#12323387)
      WHile there, some future people bring out a jukebox and say "An ancient source of historic IPod!" (or something like that). Kinda funny.

      And they'll be playing the Sigue Sigue Sputnik track "21st Century Boy" ... Stereo ... video...
  • by jeffehobbs ( 419930 ) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @12:58PM (#12323295) Homepage

    "It is not necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice. There are two other possibilities: one is paper work, and the other is nostalgia."

    --Frank Zappa
  • Haven't felt the need for one but I wouldn't mind having a PSP when the prices come down to $150 with a game.
  • I got a Rio 300 somewhere around 1999 or 2000, and I still use it fairly regularly. It's only got 64MB of memory, but that's the perfect size for the hour or so trips I normally use it for. It is light, easy to carry, and works great on my Linux machine. If only it displayed song titles like the 500...
  • by Schnapple ( 262314 ) <tomkidd@[ ] ['via' in gap]> on Saturday April 23, 2005 @01:06PM (#12323356) Homepage
    I still have a Diamond Rio PMP300 [] - the one they got sued over and established the precedent on MP3 players being legal. Some dude sold it to me for $10 used - and it wasn't too old at the time (~1999). Of course the 32MB size limit got hit pretty quickly and meant incomplete albums or downsampled ones. And it had this really annoying flaw where the battery door would break and then have to be taped shut.

    I think it still works and it's a cool piece of nostalgia. But what struck me was - it has a digital screen across the top and a large, circular interface across the bottom. So did the iPod draw inspiration from this? Or did Rio just nearly get it right the first time?

    • That's funny - I love it, I was using mine last week. All the rest of mine are CD-based, so for a one-off thing or something quick, I do come back to it.

      After all this time, there are only two major flaws: (besides the fact it can only hold 64 meg total - it won't recognize cards larger than 32mb)
      1. the spring for the battery (lemme get this straight... there's one moving part, and it's for the flipping battery?) would unclip, and you'd have to disassemble the entire thing to get to it, and
      2. The aforementio
  • player ..

    i only wish i could write code for it. it'd be a great synthesis platform.. (or sampler, even..)
  • I think I've got you all beat.

    I bought my MPTrip CD/MP3 Player back in January of 2000... Went well with my Apex AD-600 (1998) and the collection of MP3s I started in 1997 (compressed my 400+ Audio CD collection).

    • Flambait?!??!?

      Would somebody care to explain this? My point was that there is all this mention of "vintage" MP3 Players, and as far as I know, the MPTrip was the first mass market portable MP3 Player.

    • The article talks about the first flash-based and the first hard-drive based portables, but they overlook the glorious cheaply-made first portable CD-Based player, the Genica MPTrip []. At the time I wanted my whole MP3 collection with me. Yeah, a CD binder full of 100 MP3 discs may have looked a little lame, but remember that everyone who wanted their collection with them would need a binder 10x as big for a non-MP3 cd player.

      My library for my portable was an order of magnitude more than the first iPod co

      • Exactly...

        Hard Disc and Memory-based MP3 Players are all fine and dandy, but they weren't affordable in a "mass-market" format until recently.

        The CD MP3 Players should not be overlooked... they were the real break-through devices in this area.

        Affordable and accessable.
        • Be careful. iPod investors (anybody who has sunk all that money into one with it's fixed) get pretty upset when you tell them you can get 7 gigs (ten CDR disks) of removable MP3 storage on YOUR player for a couple bucks. They start rambling about size, etc.

          It's a tradeoff, for certain, but there's no clear 'advantage' to flash, hard drive, or CD-based players that means the other formats aren't good too. But don't tell that to people who've bought into a fashion trend.

  • Still holding onto my white with purple faceplate U.S. Robotics 14.4 external modem till the day it becomes desirable again...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It looks like vintage MP3 portables are the hot new collectible for old radio connoisseurs.

    Uh, are we reading the same articles? Part 1 specifically says antique audio collectors do NOT strive to acquire contemporary audio equipment, "but I could easily see how 30 years from now some of these digital music players could be coveted."

    What a surprise, a misleading Slashdot summary.
  • Is this going to be one of those things where audiophiles insist that old, hard-to-get, inconvenient media sound "warmer", "richer", and "fuller"? Like with the vinyl records and vacuum-tube amplifiers?

    I keep waiting for somebody to insist that you haven't really heard Nelly until you've heard him on wax disc. Yeah, the click when the needle goes past the seam is kind of annoying, but the sound is harmonically vibrant and more natural.
    • I hate to be the one to say this, but it's true. Lots of music that is mixed sounds best for the medium that it was composed, recorded, and mixed for. Vinyl was made and tweaked to sound good recording symphonies, and lots of jazz / early rock recordings were made and tweaked to sound good on vinyl. That's why a lot of the classic recordings just sound better on record. Get one of Thelonious Monk's greatest hits albums on vinyl and CD, and listen to both, alternating every 5 minutes. The vinyl just sou
      • That's a fascinating thesis; I'd love to try it some day.

        But perhaps I have the wrong equipment. When I think of vinyl, my first thought is the scratchy hiss that comes when playing a silent part of the record, especially noticeable when you first put the record on and that hiss is measured against the background noise. One can only assume that it continues under the music as well.

        If that's what "warmer sound" means, perhaps you're exactly right: the music was mixed to sound great with that extra low hi
  • It's pointless to reminisce about the good old days of MP3 players, when you consider that old player all held less and had lower quality audio than modern players.

    Now, old digital cameras, there's something to be nostalgic about! True, they also hold less and take worse pictures, but taking worse pictures is a feature as well as a bug, if you're into artsy-fartsy stuff. Recently, you hear a lot about people using "Lomo" cameras (old Russian camera that produce awesome looking but unrealistic photos) and a
  • Should have kept my old 32mb Rio..

    Damned thing took almost as long to transfer as was the playtime..

  • But does it play OGG?
    • In order to be fully effective this question needs to be superceded by:

      Can you run Linux on it?
      Is the source available? Is the code under the GPL? (see question above)
      Is the firmware open?

      Potential Follow-on questions include:

      Does it play FLAC?
      Does it use DRM? (Note: this is a *negative* question)
      Did MS have *anything* to do with its creation? (Negative question, see above)

  • I am a rich man. :D
  • It used unidirectional wireless networking to play music and voice from storage and news streams at remote locations. (AM and FM.)

    I await any offers.

  • What about the Genica GN803 Tavarua? I picked up one of these in 2000-ish, and I think it was one of (if not the) first commercial mp3 cd player. Of course, it was (and is) also a big steaming pile.
  • by Dogtanian ( 588974 ) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @02:23PM (#12323852) Homepage
    I might have missed it skimming through the comments, but it seems odd that no-one's come to the rather obvious conclusion that this isn't about nostalgia- at least, not for most of the people buying them at present.

    Put simply, it's about investment. These people have seen the boom in interest in "retro" computing and electronics, reckon that they'll be worth something in the future, so they're snapping them up now, and driving the prices up.

    Of course, whether the resultant increase in prices, and people keeping/selling their old players instead of binning them means it is now worth it is debatable. Personally, I think a lot of people are going to be disappointed.

    At one stage a few years ago (96-97) I was convinced that 8-bit computers would grow in value as a result of a "retro" nostalgia boom. Well, that was half true, but the simple fact is that, except for the rarer machines (e.g. Sinclair ZX80 in good condition can easily fetch UKP 200.00), most old computers were so widely-produced that they'll never be worth that much. I've seen Sinclair ZX Spectrums in a games-shop window for UKP 100.00, but that's with high-street chain retail mark-up (for lazy nostalgics who can't be arsed getting them on eBay for 30.00). Unless you have one of the rarer models (e.g. short-lived Timex-Sinclair bastardised Spectrum), you're not going to make tons of money without some effort. Ditto the C64.

    Back to the subject; is anyone *seriously* getting nostalgic for those silly little 32MB devices that were the first widely-available MP3 players 5 or 6 years back?

    Even then, I thought they were rubbish. You'd have been lucky if you could get a whole album at 128Mbps on them, which you had to transfer manually via the (typically?) parallel connection. I was still listening to cassettes back then, and all things considered, they (or portable CD players) were a better bet at the time. The MP3 players were for geeks and "boys toys" gadget freaks.
    • I like significant stuff (might not have been the first, but if I could pick up a Rio cheap, I just might) but I've been finding that as we reach the hockey-stick-shaped part of Moore's Law, "interesting" just isn't enough, especially if you have limited space.

      I've wanted an SGI O2 for a while and recently got one, cheap, but I haven't done much with it--as cool as it is, there's only so much you can do with 200 MHz and 64 MB these days. Use it as a test server? No reason to, my slowest machine--an 800 MHz
  • Actually, my little project [] pre-dates the PJB-100 (ok, mine's not a nicely packaged comsumer toy like that, but it was earlier), and even mine wasn't the first commercially available hard-drive player (that wasn't a PC in a trunk).

    There was another one, whose name I don't quite recall, which was truely the first hard drive player.... became available around the time I was starting my second design (the one you see now). It was an in-dash car player, selling for approx $1100.

  • I have one of them, the 20Gb version. Plays any and all MP3, as nice as you'd expect. As one of my friends once said, it truly looks like a pre-perestroika iPod from the USSR.

    Curiosities: hidden games of mine-sweeper and sobokan. 5v charger, which is difficult to replace. (4.5: yes. 6: yes. 5: no.) The only annoying things are the USB1 interface, which is dog slow, and the inability to get songs off the thing.

    Also the strange lineage. Digital Labs came up with it, and Compaq had it sold to a Korean compan

  • What's that worth? Made before you could get an MP3 CD player everywhere and nowhere for $50 or less. Made when Compaq was actually a company. Oh, about 5-7 years back in ye olden days.

    Can't play MP3s worth a damn, without skipping, if you ummm, look at it funny, or do nothing at all.

    But it's gotta be worth something.
  • I have a Rio Volt (original MP3 CD player) in my car... Can I get $100k for it at auction?

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel