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Diamond Rio PMP300 Review

Date: 13th January 98
by Jereme Wong

- The Good
- The Bad
- Test System Configuration
- Conclusion
- Rating

- Other   reviews

For many years, Diamond Multimedia has been acknowledged by many, as the big brother of graphics cards in the PC arena. When I first assembled my own 486, the very first PCI graphics display card I used was the Diamond Stealth 64. That was about six years back.

Today, Diamond Multimedia has expanded so rapidly that its sole business is not only to deal with graphics cards, but, to provide advanced solutions for home, business and professional desktop computer users, a complete range of multimedia peripherals.

Diamond accelerates multimedia from the Internet to the user with products that include the reknown Viper series of media accelerators, the Monster series of entertainment 3D and sound accelerators, the Fire series of professional 3D and SCSI accelerators, the popular Supra series of modems and more recently, a whole new range of Micronics motherboards.

With such a wide range of multimedia products to offer,  the company is still unrelentless, in its pursuit of new multimedia products. The Diamond Rio PMP300 MP3 Player is Diamond's latest hit.

After a few months of debating with the RIAA regarding the violation of the 1992 Audio Home Recording Act, the portable MP3 player is finally shipping off to the rest of the world just a few weeks before Christmas last year.

 

Rio PMP300 Specifications

Size 3.5" x 2.5" x 0.625"
Weight 70 grams
Signal to Noise Ratio >90dB
Harmonic Distortion <0.1%
Maximum Output >50mW (32 Ohms)
Frequency Range 20 - 20kHz
Built-In Base Memory 32MB
Power Single 1.5V standard AA alkaline battery
Add-On Memory Options Removable 16Mb or 32Mb flash cards (not included)

 

These are the contents of the box:

The box design is of a bright attentive red colour with this beautiful Latin American model holding the compact PMP300. Here's a snapshot of the contents of the box.

rio.jpg (11059 bytes)connector.jpg (12322 bytes)

With a black plastic housing and a LED on its front panel, the Rio looks exactly like a smaller size Walkman. Featuring a circular pushable button which contains the controls for play/pause, rewind, fast forward and stop, the Rio seems to be designed to cater for somebody with thick, broad fingers. At the outer edges, there are controls for the volume, repeat song, random song setting and an option for playing repeatedly, a certain portion of a song.

The left side of the player has a switch known as the "hold" function. When the switch is on, the LED display will show a "Hold" icon in the upper left portion of the display. This will then disable every button on the Rio. The top panel has the headphone jack, which fits the standard RCA 2-Ring adapter. The EQ function allows you to change the style of playback. It features Normal, Classic, Jazz, and Rock output.  



Take a look at top of the Rio panel

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The Good

The Portable MP3 Player

I spent a couple of days testing and playing with the Rio. Initially, I found the uploading of the MP3 files from my PC into the Rio's flash ROM a hassle since it has a maximum memory of 32Mb, which is about 8 complete songs. However, as I got used to the transfer process, I realised that I actually preferred the Rio to my portable discman. Reason being, the Rio does not have any movable parts and hence, offer skip-free durability along with CD-quality sound.

Besides being completely resistant to skipping, flutter or audio dropout, the Rio is really portable and compact in design. Weighing so much lesser than my portable discman, and measuring about the size of a pager, the Rio PMP300 promises to let you take music wherever you want to go!!

Uploading to the RIO PMP300

After fixing up the parallel pass through connector adapter to my parallel port and hooking up the Rio connection cord to the portable player, I loaded the software provided by the installation CD. Named as Rio Manager, the software was divided into three main parts: the MP3 software player, the playlist and the internal memory editor. Designed with a sleek and clean user interface, you wouldn't need the help file or manual to tell you what to do in order to play your favourite MP3 files.

To begin uploading your favourite MP3 files into the flash ROM of the portable Rio, you have to activate the internal memory editor and click on the "Initialize" button to erase any data stored in the 32Mb memory. Note that it only takes about 2 seconds at most to initialise 32Mb of memory!!

RIO_Initialise.jpg (18553 bytes)

After that, it is only a matter of dragging your favourite list of MP3 files into the Internal Memory window before the uploading process begins. One worthy point to note is that for 32MB of MP3 files to be uploaded into the flash ROM of the Rio player, it only takes about 2 minutes of transfer time on my PII-450Mhz!!!

uploading.jpg (28523 bytes)

Above is a screenshot of the uploading process into the Rio player.

list.jpg (24257 bytes)


The screenshot above depicts the uploaded MP3 songs residing in the Rio player after uploading.

After the uploading process, you are basically ready to rock. With MP3 songs encoded at 128kbps, I am already enjoying close to CD quality sound, and in this case, the Rio allows me the option of consolidating all my favourite songs into its tiny 32MB ROM for portable listening.

In addition, the amazing thing about the Rio is that it supports up to 12 hours of continuous playback with just a standard AA alkaline battery!

battery.jpg (12863 bytes)

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The Bad

One main complain of this Rio player is the insufficient amount of base memory. With 32MB built-in ROM on board, the Rio can only contains up to 8 to 9 songs ripped off a CD. If Diamond could increase the base memory to 64MB, a complete albulm of CD songs will be able to reside comfortably in the Rio's memory for portable listening.

The earphone that comes packaged with the Rio is definitely not suitable for serious listeners. It is not able to reproduce any bass signal at all. In addition, I find that the built-in graphic equaliser on the Rio could have been preset better so as to bring out a greater difference between each settings.

One last point is that somehow or rather, I feel that the black plastic casing that houses the Rio player does not give it a sophisticated or sleek design. Comparing it with most of the walkmans manufactured by Japanese companies, these portable players usually endorse a metallic casing so as to give them a really sleek design.

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Test System Configuration

Processor(s) INTEL P2-300 OC 450
Ram 128MB 100MHz SAMSUNG PC-100 RAM
Motherboard ABIT BH-6
HardDrive(s) IBM Deskstar- 6.4Gb
Operating System MS Windows 98 Build 4.10.1998
DirectX Version MS DirectX Version 6
Video Card(s) Canopus Total 3D 128V PCI

 

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Conclusion

Smaller than an audio cassette player or a portable discman, with shock resistant features, yet at the same time bringing portable CD quality music to your ears, the Rio PMP300 is definitely the hippiest thing to own at this point of time. However, with a hefty price tag of $349, I guess this baby is only affordable if you have the extra cash in your pocket.


PERIPHERAL RATING

Overall Rating (Out of a maximum of 5 Star)

Installation *****
Performance ****
Price **
Software Bundle ***
Material Quality ***
Overall Rating ***1/2

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Copyright 1998, Singapore Hardware Zone. All rights reserved.
Last updated January 14, 1999.

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