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If you have been playing around with mp3s for a while you will know the need, the empty hole of want, for a sturdy CD based mp3 player. Over the last few years there have been tons of vaporware, teaser ads, half baked DIY projects and a few good home brew methods, but in the end the need was for a cheap commercial device that would cut you free from the gimmicky hassles of past offerings.

It seems the wait is over. Sonicblue, the company who owns the Rio brand, has put out a solid low cost CD based mp3 player with enough of what everyone been clamoring for to make the masses happy.

My main reason for listening to MP3s is slightly different than most peoples. I still listen to music but I am more into it for listening to old time radio shows, audio books, and other spoken word gems. The big hang up with many of the previous options was the lack of solid support for the lower bit rates these mp3s are made in. The Rio Volt takes care of them pretty damn well. From all reports virtually every old time radio show in mp3 format tested on it plays with out skips or chirps.

One big plus for this product is its firmware. Yes these folks have done a little research into what didn’t work with others offerings and why. The addition to upgradeable firmware allows them to fix and upgrade over time advances in the decoding methods, file handling, and interface workings. Rather than being stuck with what you buy this product will have some degree of growth. Another venue opened by upgradeable firmware is hackablility. What wonders will come out of the minds of its more creative users, who knows, But the possibilities are there for some interesting unthought of tweaks.

So what is the scoop on this products basics?

To add to tomwhore's comments about the possibilities of hacking the rio volt firmware - I don't know if it's been done yet but I know it would open up the opportunity to do some pretty interesting stuff.

AFAIK support for a new version of WMA was included in a firmware upgrade released a few months after the launch. If, memory-permitting, this could be done with other audio file formats such as Ogg Vorbis, the lifetime of this player could be significantly enhanced (and I'd guess the longevity issue was one of the reasons upgradable firmware was included in the first place).

Unfortunately, I'd say the chances of this free format being included alongside WMA are slim to none. On the other hand, although figuring out the player's flashing specifications could be time-consuming, there's unlikely to be any serious encryption done during the flashing stage... or is there?

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