RioPort, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Diamond Multimedia Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: DIMD), today announced that it has licensed Diamond Multimedia to begin shipping a new 64MB digital audio player, the Rio 500, beginning in August. The company also plans to offer several new Rio designs that support Microsoft's Windows Media Player and IBM's new high-capacity MicroDrives later this year. Diamond Multimedia will be the exclusive retail partner for the Rio 500, which is expected to have an estimated retail price (ERP) of $269. Additional OEM and private label partners are also expected.
Following on the heels of the company's ground-breaking Rio PMP300, the Rio 500 will feature several design and functionality improvements over its popular predecessor. Consumers can pre-order their Rio 500 through Babbages, Electronics Boutique and Comp USA now. Pre-orders will also be accepted at www.rioport.com and www.diamondmm.com beginning on July 12, 1999.
Next Generation Features
The Rio 500 is compatible with both PC and Macintosh (iMac and G3) platforms and uses a USB connection for blazing fast download speeds (significantly faster than with a parallel port connection). The new Rio design provides support for digital rights management through InterTrust, ensuring copyright protection for digital content owners.
The next generation Rio also features RioPort's new integrated Rio Audio Manager software for complete management of digital music. Through the new software, Rio users have direct access to RioPort.com, a site for digital audio content aggregation.
The new Rio players will sport an improved user interface with a larger, back-lit LCD display and new teal, purple, or silver casings. Playback formats including MP3, MPEG2.5, G.723 (Audible) and ADPCM are supported.
New ergonomic design features make the Rio 500 the fastest and easiest way to load and listen to hours of digital audio content. Among these new features are well-positioned buttons, a multi-function jog key and intuitive playback controls to recall the artist name, song title and playback time. The enhanced back-lit LCD display allows for easy viewing and supports graphics and other unique characters. Customizable EQ settings allow for personalized presets of bass and treble and control over various playlist options. The new RioPort compatible devices also feature special bookmark and control functions for playing back spoken audio content, including books, news stories, on-demand radio and other customized digital audio content found at RioPort.com
The 64MB Rio 500 can store and play back up to two hours of digital quality music and up to 32 hours of spoken audio content (more than twice that of the original Rio PMP300). Optional 16MB ($59) and 32MB ($99) Smart Media flash memory cards allow for additional hours of playback. The Rio 500 runs off a single AA battery for 13 hours of continuous playback. A direct-connect USB cable (included) negates the need for a dedicated docking station for data transport. The Rio 500 package includes the Rio player, earphones, a USB cable, carrying case, battery, Rio Audio Manager software and sample content (see below).
"With the plethora of new digital audio programming now available on the Internet, we have recognized that there are consumers who want different feature sets in their portable playback devices," said David Watkins, president of RioPort, Inc. "Our engineers have developed several new Rio designs that will appeal to everyone from the beginner to the advanced user who wants very high capacity storage and playback for both entertainment and business uses."
Spoken Audio Programming
One of the most compelling new uses emerging for the Rio is spoken audio playback, allowing people to listen to books, learn languages, receive news and more from their PC or portable player. The new Rio players are the only devices to offer feature sets specifically designed for this use, including a special bookmark control, giving users the ability to stop playback and then and resume where they left off. Rio Windows 95/98 users can playback more than 16,000 hours of spoken word content from Audible, Inc., including selections from novels by best-selling authors, audio newspapers, speeches, lectures and more. People interested in new spoken word content can go to RioPort.com to browse a vast selection of digital audio offerings available for purchase.
New Integrated Rio Audio Manager Software
The new Rio 500 will come bundled with RioPort's exclusive Rio Audio Manager software, which allows consumers to search, locate, create and playback digital audio content in one simple application. Rio Audio Manager's powerful integrated database allows users to store and categorize audio tracks and related information into a personal "jukebox" that they can easily sort through to find the songs and audio content they want to hear. The database supports CDDB digital tracks embedded with ID3 tags to provide information such as song titles, lyrics, CD art, and more. With Rio Audio Manager, Rio users can convert their CDs to the MP3 format or, in the future, to Microsoft's WMA format and store them on their PC; organize all their digital audio tracks into personalized playlists and albums that they can playback from their PC or portable music device; and even transfer MP3 and Audible data files back and forth between their Rio and PC. Moreover, Rio Audio Manager provides an integrated Web browser to search RioPort or other sites on the Internet without ever leaving the application.
The Rio 500 is also the first portable digital audio player to support the Macintosh platform (iMac/G3 systems) and ships with Casady & Greene's SoundJam MP digital audio system. SoundJam MP provides a powerful suite of digital audio tools for iMac users, including MP3 encoding, playback and downloading to the Rio 500.
In-Box Music and Audio Content CD Sampler
On the Rio 500 in-box CD, users can access the Rio Audio Manager software, AudibleManager 2.0 software (see separate announcement made today) and a variety of digital audio tracks that can be downloaded from the disc to the Rio or desktop. The disc features MP3-formatted music tracks from two multi-platinum-selling artists, the Cowboy Junkies and Julian Lennon, and selections from the leading music sources on the Web, including CDuctive (indie label distributor), E-music (formerly Goodnoise), Epitonic.com (indie rock label), Fandom Records (Korean artists), JazzPromo.com (Juno Award-winning artists), MP3.com (tracks from a variety of genres), Riffage.com (cutting-edge music from new bands) and Songs.com (folk, rock and R&B). A sample of spoken word programs from Audible, including The New York Times, lectures from top college and poetry readings, are also included.
The Windows versions of the new Rio models are designed to be MetaTrust(TM)
ready and will be compatible with InterTrust's digital rights management (DRM) technology. InterTrust's sophisticated DRM system enables music labels, artists and other providers to deliver content with persistent protection against piracy during both online and offline transactions. RioPort is committed to providing robust support for multiple copyright protection schemes with upgradeable firmware solutions as new security systems emerge.
Future Rio Designs to Feature Microsoft Windows Media Support, Digital Voice Recording and High Capacity Storage
RioPort, Inc. is also working on a line of new high capacity Rio devices that will feature, among other things, support for Microsoft's Windows Media format, voice recording capability and a USB docking station for fast charging. Two models will be bundled with IBM's ultra-high capacity MicroDrives for up to 340MB of digital audio storage. Additional details of the future Rio designs will be available closer to the next-generation product line's expected release in the Fall of 1999.
Consumers can purchase the new Rio 500 beginning in August through RioPort.com
with the option of making three monthly payments of $89.95; through Diamond Multimedia's online store, and at select retailers worldwide.
There are also a number of Rio accessories available, including a leather carrying case, car cassette adapter, travel kit, USB-to-parallel port converter and Smart Media flash memory upgrade cards.