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Product: RioVolt
Company: SonicBlue
Estimated Street Price: $169.95
Review By: Julien Jay


Table Of Contents
1: Introduction
2: Play & Sound Features
3: Autonomy & Misc
4: Conclusion

   It’s no longer needed to demonstrate the success of the MP3 music file format. Every PC owner knows what MP3 is all about, and hard disks are generally full of MP3 files for our ears' greatest pleasure. Kids don’t exchange marbles anymore in school: they prefer exchanging MP3 CDs. MP3 success can be explained by many reasons: it’s most of the time free (for the greatest despair of music majors), you can create your own compilations easily, ripping a CD-Audio into MP3 takes only a couple of seconds with today's high performance CD drive, and sharing files with friends is easy even through the Internet. Until now bringing your MP3 collection on the road, wasn’t an easy thing. Indeed portable MP3 digital players usually feature a small embedded 64MB memory, where you can store between 30 and 60 minutes of music (depending on the compression rate), not more. The problem is there’s no way you can add, for a reasonable price, more memory to your existing digital audio player. Worse yet those MP3 walkmans are relatively expensive. A few months ago a new generation of MP3 walkmans appeared on the market. A generation everyone has dreamt about…

   Have you ever imagined a portable CD player able to read CD-R or CD-RW full of MP3? With such a device your MP3 CDs are not only readable by computers but you can bring them whereever you go to listen your favorite music! SonicBlue, the company that owns the Rio brand, offers what is actually and there’s no doubt about it, the best MP3 CD player dubbed ‘RioVolt’. For a price approximately two times lower than a portable digital audio player, the RioVolt can carry up to 15 hours of music per CD and is even able to read regular music CDs! Best of all, since CD-Rs are now very cheap the capacity of such a portable MP3 CD player is virtually unlimited.


The RioVolt design is quite simply amazing: it’s all in roundness but best of all it’s one of the smallest and lightest portable MP3 CD players you can find on the market. Its silver like shell is heightened by two circle blue dashes that separate the LCD screen and the most important buttons of the other commands. A small window, designed like a coma, is on top of the player so you can see what CD is inside the device. From the side the RioVolt looks just like an UFO: the top and bottom silver shells are separated by a thick blue plastic material, of the better effect. Opening the player, to put CDs, can be done sliding the small silvered frontal button. This button is a bit fragile but if you don’t handle it like a brut it should be OK. Opened, the top cover unveils a very nice blue tray where you have to lay CDs on the spinning support. The bottom part of the device features four pads to ensure the player is stable on every kind of support.

   The top of the RioVolt cover features a wide 4 lines LCD, backlit screen, where you can read tracks names easily. To remind you the ‘blue’ touch of SonicBlue the LCD screen backlit color is blue: very nice. Next to the main LCD screen are 11 buttons ensuring you have total control over the device. The most useful button is a circle pad that looks like the one of your portable console: it offers play, pause, stop, next/previous functions and let you navigate into menus. Provided with a sleek 8 functions remote on the cord, where you can plug the headphones of your choice, the device is clearly full featured and is the incarnation of the MP3 discman I have always dreamt about.

RioVolt (click to enlarge)



  Play & Sound Features »


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