Al Brandt took some time off from his jet-set, world roaming lifestyle
and wrote this:
A while back I told you all about the Diamond RIO PMP 300
player. I've had the chance to learn some new stuff and try out some new
things, so I thought I'd share it with the PS/2 music lovers amongst us.
The RIO PMP 300 is a handheld mini-walkman that plays
mp3 files. It is very small and lightweight, perfect for joggers. At first
I had real bad luck with this player, but now everything seems to be squared
away, since Diamond replaced my defective player and I've been able to
try out more things with it.
I'd like to cover several subjects:
1. The physical player itself
2. The software
3. How this all applies to the IBM PS/2
The physical player itself
1. The physical player itself is pretty cool. It has a slot for a 32
MB upgrade card and comes with 32MB stock. With 32 MB you get about 20
minutes (more or less) playing time. You can download mp3 tracks onto the
player from your PS/2 parallel port. It has a pass-through adapter
so you can put it between the printer cable and the parallel port.
The major problem with the player is with the design of the battery compartment,
which ultimately led to the demise of my first player. The battery case
is hinged on one end and you slide the battery in and cover the one of
the battery with the cover. The hinge is made out of metal and connects
to one of the battery contacts on the end. When this hinge gets loose (or
comes from the manufacturer loose) a slight jarring
causes the battery to lose contact and reset the player. This is very
annoying. During my latest long distance trip, the player got a little
dirty and so did the hinge. I tried to clean off the dirt and was able
to get the player to play (the internal electronics were not damaged),
but the contact to the battery could not be maintained, causing it to become
useless. I got an RMA from RIO and they sent me a new player. This player
is obviously not brand new, but rather a serviced unit, and shows signs
of wear. But: it has a much tighter hinge and even though I don't think
the problem with the design has been solved, it is much more stable and
resistant to jarring. Had they designed the RIO with a normal battery case,
the lid of which would not have any metal or electic contacts, there would
be no problem with the player at all.
2. The software that comes with the RIO is very good. You get a player
interface and can download songs onto the player. You can make play lists,
etc, so that you can change the content of the player at will. Another
thing it comes with is a song recorder so that you can record songs from
your CDs and then download them onto the player. You also get several free
mp3 tracks, no biggie, but some of the songs are actually decent.
How this all applies
to the IBM PS/2
3. The most important thing is how this all applies to our beloved
PS/2s. First of all, the software says that it requires something in the
order of a Pentium 100. But I run the Rio software on a P60 9595 and never
had any performance problems of any kind. I imagine that it could
run just fine with a 486 too. Since it works with a parallel port and not
a USB port, we are in the clear. The greatest thing I have found about
the whole package is the recorder. In contrast to other recorders, namely
the one from Real Networks, "Real Jukebox," the RIO will work with a PS/2
SCSI controller (Adaptec AHA-1640 of course - at least that is the one
I tried), an old Toshiba/IBM 4x CDROM and even the IBM ACPA soundcard under
Windows 95. Not only will it record CDROMs, but it will do so directly
through the SCSI BUS, these are not analog recordings, but full digital
ones. Therefore the software is *very* PS/2 friendly.
A long time ago I installed Real Networks "Real Jukebox"
and "Real Player." This software also allows you to record digitally from
your soundcard as well. BUT it will NOT WORK with some SCSI cards (i.e.
PS/2 SCSI cards) and only with some sound cards (I imagine "sound blaster"
compatible sound cards). The Real mp3 recording software will at best make
analog recordings from the SCSI CDROM through the internal CDROM/Soundcard
player cable hooked to one of the more expensive and impossible to find
Sound Blaster-compatible sound cards. When I found this out, I figured
we were doomed due to the usual M$-PS/2 driver hell, but alas, with the
RIO software this is not the case. It is simply superior, a surprise to
me, since I assumed that the Real software would be the best.