Music in the free world

So far, we've kept you chained to the PC - probably not the top spot on your list of easy listening locations. In the real world, you listen to tunes in the car, while you work out at the gym, as you kick back at the beach, and so forth.

To go mobile, you need to buy a portable MP3 player.

Diamond's Rio (see the January 2000 edition of PC World for a review of the Rio 500) is the original. This device, about the size of a deck of cards, contains no moving parts, only memory to store MP3 files. Once you've jacked it into your PC's Universal Serial Bus port, you move tunes from the PC to the Rio's memory. From that point, the gizmo behaves like a portable tape or CD player, with forward, reverse, play, and stop buttons. The difference, of course, is that it's tiny and you can change the music it plays without hauling around CDs or cassettes.

Along with everything else it does, RealJukebox also handles several portable MP3 players, including the Rio 500 and 300 and Creative Labs' Nomad. To transfer tunes using RealJukebox:

1. Choose Options-Preferences and click the Portable Players/Storage tab. Click the Add button. If you see your portable player listed, select it, and click OK here and in the next dialogue box. If nothing is displayed, connect to the Internet and click the Update List. Find and choose your player and click OK. The necessary component downloads and installs.

2. Plug the player's USB cable into the PC and turn on the player, and Windows will install the necessary drivers. Now double-click the Portable Players/Storage item in the list at the left of the RealJukebox display.

Select your player. (We clicked Diamond Rio 500 and then highlighted Rio Internal.) Three new buttons appear at the bottom of RealJukebox's display: Configure, Add Tracks, and Begin Transfer.

3. Click Add Tracks. In the dialogue box that appears, simply select tracks to transfer to your player and click Add (use -click and -click to select multiple files). Click Begin Transfer and RealJukebox sends the tracks to the player. That's it.

4. To delete tracks from the player, simply establish communication (see step 2), select the tracks you want to erase, and press the Delete key, or right-click the track and choose Delete. That's it. Talk about a breeze.

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