MP3 players (USB devices) -- how compatible?

sp0rkmail sp0rkmail at
Fri Jun 4 23:11:50 GMT 2004

I've got a Rio Karma, and it's quite awesome.  It's USB, but it's dock 
comes with a built in ethernet port.  The firmware on is has a built in 
web server which allows you to download a java application and use that 
to transfer files and manage playlists when the beast is docked.  I've 
been able to transfer files in FreeBSD, linux, windows, and OS X this 
way.  It's also cheaper than an iPod, supports more codecs (MP3, ogg, 
FLAC, and wma), and has a 20 gig capacity.  It's got the ethernet hookup 
as well as USB2.  The dock has RCA out so you can hook it up to your 
home stereo system.  It's just an awesome little monster.  It's served 
me well these last two quarters at school and it's pretty durable: after 
having dropped it twice and had it bounce around in my back pack on a 
regular basis, it still plays perfectly.  There are also tests of audio 
quality done (I've seen several) that rank it at the top of the pack for 
mp3 and ogg quality.

There's only two downsides.  One is that it doesn't show up as a umass 
device due to it's databasing system (i think it's databasing system, at 
least), so if you want to use USB2, you need windows until they come out 
with drivers for linux, bsd, or OS X.  Personally, I've done all my 
transfers over the network.  The second is that you need USB2 and their 
windows software to update the firmware.  However, the software is 
freely available online, and it's fairly small, so it's very possible to 
go over to a friend's house and update your firmware on their box, or 
obviously any other available windows box you can get your hands on.

I've had mine since February and I'm extremely happy with it. 


Conrad Sabatier wrote:

>I am desperately in need of an MP3 player to use at work, in order to preserve
>my sanity.  :-)  Seriously, one of my supervisors insists on having the most
>god-awful radio station playing throughout the building all day long, one which
>repeats the same tired playlist over and over and over at intervals of roughly
>two hours.  It's enough to make one go postal (and I happen to work for the
>Postal Service, too, by the way).  :-)
>Anyway, with the proliferation of USB devices available nowadays, I'm just
>wondering how safe or risky would it be to just go ahead and grab one and hook
>it up to my machine.  Is it a simple matter of configuring it as a umass device
>and just copying files over to the player?  Or are most of them really that
>dependent on the proprietary Windows/Mac software that comes bundled with most
>of the them?
>Thanks for any feedback!

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