Recently it was announced the Rio, the makers of some of my favorite MP3 players, will no longer be making MP3 players any more. The actual details are more complicated, but, we are out of luck. I have been using the Rio Carbon for about a year now I still think it is the best thing going in the 4-8GB hard drive based players. My wife uses a Rio Sport 256MB (with an extra 1GB) and she loves it, too.
I probably wrote a while back about my experience with the iPod mini during a point when my Carbon was broken. During that point I did a lot of looking at what Apple, Creative, and the others were offering. Nothing else really compares to the Carbon in terms of features. While the iPods support MP3 and Audible, they don’t support WMA and they requires you to upload via iTunes (or Winamp via a plug-in). The biggest problem with the iPod is that it doesn’t support bookmarking (except for Audible content) — which is vital since I often listen to very long files and/or audio books. What is great about the Rio Carbon is that when you plug it in (USB) it just looks like a hard drive, drag MP3/WMA file to it and when you unplug it they appear in your available music list. No special software needed. The Carbon also supports Audible, which is very nice.
This is all too bad because eventually my Carbon will break and I just don’t see a worthy competitor out there. I like the look of the new iPod Nano, but, without bookmarks it just doesn’t compete, not to mention the other missing features. Oh well.
On a somewhat related note, I found a great free MP3 file splitter, mp3splt. Good for splitting long MP3s into short ones, and it can place the splits during silent points. Cool stuff.