One of our favorite MP3 players is getting an upgrade. Cowon announced the iAudio 7 today in Korea, updating their micro-drive iAudio 6 player to a lighter, leaner flash-based player. The update includes a significant jump in battery life, from 20 hours to a remarkable 60 hours. The iAudio 6 supports standard audio formats such as MP3, AAC, WMA, ASF, WAV, and even beloved (yet rarely supported) formats such as OGG and FLAC. It looks as though many of the great features of its predecessor have been maintained, including line-in recording, voice recording, video playback, BBE sound enhancer, and its … Read more
Just to let you know a little bit more about me, here's the obligatory "hit random shuffle and tell me the first ten songs that come up" post. Only instead of using an iPod like most bloggers, I'm using my Zune.
(Full disclosure: this Zune is a review unit I received from Microsoft. I use it as my main music player for two reasons. First, my iPod's hard drive died out of warranty, and my wife is devoted to hers and won't let me steal it. Second, I convert a lot of vinyl using … Read more
The conventional wisdom: Microsoft's effort to compete against the iPod juggernaut has failed. Early reviews of the Zune were scathing. Sales have been slow, coming in at less than 10% of hard-drive-based players, and less than 3% of the overall portable music player market. The executive who oversaw the launch of the product has left the company. What's to argue about?
The conventional wisdom is wrong.
To understand why, look at the Xbox business. From any normal company's perspective, the Xbox has been a resounding failure, costing Microsoft somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 billion.
But consider … Read more
In the early 18th century, the discovery (or rediscovery) of well-temperament spurred composers such as J.S. Bach to tune their instruments in new ways, making it possible to play music in all keys and essentially paving the way for what we now think of as Western classical music.
After the U.S. Civil War, cast-off martial instruments from the conflict were appropriated, combined with traditional African instruments (such as the banjo) and musical idioms, and used to create a new form of semi-improvised ensemble music with syncopated rhythms: Dixieland. Which in … Read more
Asia gets all the cool stuff. Case in point: the iRiver X20, a flash MP3 player with tons of features and good sound quality. Why iRiver decided to keep this lovely device from the Americans is beyond me, but luckily I've tracked down a site that sells the player in the States. (And by "I", I mean one astute CNET reader.) The player pretty much lives up to iRiver standards, aside from a slightly cheap-feeling design. Still, a nice-looking screen, good audio playback, and plenty of features easily make up for that fact. Check out our review … Read more
As one might expect, I get a lot of press e-mails, and most of them fail to amuse me. That's not to say they're bad--many are quite useful and even interesting. Most of them are just not particularly funny. However, I'd be lying if I said I didn't get a chuckle out of one that I received this morning with the subject "Sprint's Pop 10 playlist." At first glance, it seemed innocuous enough, but then I got to the meat of the thing: the actual playlist. The title? Paris Hilton Goes to Jail...… Read more
If keyboards and USB drives can be built to survive everything from Mack Trucks to nuclear blasts, why can't earphones get a little reinforcement too? After all, unlike a lot of these other devices, it's actually understandable if they're dropped or otherwise put in harm's way by accident.
Denmark-based Kilo Design understands this well and has come up with a pair of $75 buds designed to withstand a good measure of abuse, with a thick coiled cord that looks like it should be attached to a phone, not your head. Our favorite thing about them, however, … Read more
I guess you could say that SpongeBob Squarepants is about as close as the U.S. gets to having the equivalent of Japan's Hello Kitty, in the sense that you can plaster its frighteningly cute face onto anything and it's more or less a guaranteed hit. (Full disclosure: I used to keep my pet goldfish in a SpongeBob aquarium. And that was, um, in college.)
The U.K.-based EMI Group continues its campaign to provide its digital music library free of DRM restrictions: it just announced that it has licensed the entire catalog to PassAlong Networks, which operates the StoreBlocks music retail technology used in online stores like F.Y.E. and BreakthruRadio.
The songs will be sold in MP3 format at a 320 kilobit rate--more than typical digital music bitrates of 128 to 192kb, and more than the 256kb premium songs offered by Apple's iTunes Store--but pricing has not yet been determined.
The Financial Times reported Tuesday that Apple is poised to announce a deal in which it will sell iTunes store tracks through social-networking site Bebo. At first, it appears that this applies only to Bebo's 8.8 million users in the U.K. and Ireland, where the service is most popular, but the story hinted that it may expand to the rest of Bebo's 33 million-strong user base if successful.
According to the Financial Times article, any band or artist with a Bebo profile--there are approximately 500,000 of them--that's already part of the iTunes catalog will … Read more