I like to stay cutting edge. It's not always easy, but it's important to me. When the first portable MP3 players hit the market in the late '90s, I had to have one. So, armed with half a paycheck and an unwavering desire to be high-tech (in 2001), I went out and purchased a Rio 500. It was roughly the size of a deck of cards and had a whopping 64MB of storage, enough for about four whole albums if I used lousy compression. For the time, it was something to show off. It even had expansion capabilities!
Back then, I lived in Olympia, Wash., which at the time was still a rock n' roll haven. Thus there were always members of popular underground acts around. I always made sure to have MP3s of whoever was in town loaded up. Musicians always got a kick out of it: "I've never been an MP3 before, cool!"
Then a few months later Apple released the iPod. You've seen one of those, right? It was roughly the same size as my DAP, cost about the same, and had about 80 times the storage. And, you know, it was an iPod. Suddenly my Rio 500 just didn't seem as cool. I was able to sell it about a week later for less than a quarter of what I bought it for.
Everyone was buying iPods.
It was a brief love affair, but I had to trade up. I didn't immediately, though. I waited for the iPod Mini. It was blue, and I loved it very much. I often think of the Rio these days and the geek status it once gave me. But sometimes, man, you've just got to let go.
February 13, 2009 4:00 AM PST
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