Rio Nitrus MP3 Player 

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When MP3 players first came out 32MB was considered large, Rio were there then, now at last they can be a good size and Rio are still there with the 1.5GB Nitrus.

Lack of size and weight has always been important, recently certain units have arrived that are USB sticks and fulfil the tiny criteria. In capacity 128MB and even 256MB offerings are about but the Rio Nitrus is 1.5GB and this is a totally new class.

Flash memory based players always seemed to stop at 128MB until very recently, now a few 256MB models are available. 1.5GB is a real advance. I got over 300 tracks of 128mbps MP3 files on the unit. The actual storage space – once formatted – is a tad under 1.4GB but that’s considerably more than 20 hours of playback.

The Nitrus is 8.5x6x1.5cm and weights only around 60 grams. It has a 3x1.6cm screen that displays all the information about the track playing and this can be displayed in several ways. There are lots of settings and seven different preset Equalizer settings as well as being able to customise your own. You can sort by artists, tracks, genre etc and make as many playlists as you wish.

Until now the best unit I have seen for battery life was an offering by Creative Labs that approached 11 hours. Here the Nitrus gives 16 hours, yes 16 hours I have used it for that amount of time so the figure is not just a theory. Recharge time is up to four hours, the charger is supplied.

A reasonable set of ear buds from Sennheiser are supplied and give a good response over the whole musical range. To transfer tracks to the unit Rio Music Manager is supplied on a CD. This is easy to use and the supplied getting started sheet should be adequate but there is a fuller manual on the CD.

I liked the unit, sound quality was excellent, the choices and settings on the unit were top notch and easy to select. My only problem was getting the selected choices to become permanent and I needed to consult the manual to find the answer.

This is a USB2 unit (it will work with USB1.1) so transfer of files is rapid. The software told me that .WMA or .MP3 was possible along with a couple of other less known formats.

16 hours of playback from a LiON battery is excellent – and no longer a nirvana – this is long enough for even the longest working day. I got just over 300 tracks on the unit (the blurb states 375) but a lot of my tracks were long. To play everything just once would take over a day and should you use .wma at 64mbps (said to be as good as 128mbps .mp3) then around 50 hours of music should be possible on the unit. have it for £168.49.

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