Diamond to release new Rio

With its legal scrap with the music industry safely behind it, Diamond Multimedia has set a September release date for a new version of its popular Rio MP3 music player.

The company has also announced plans to spin off the division that makes the Rio into a separate unit called RioPort, and has unveiled a new Internet portal, called RioPort.com, where users will be able to download music, novels, newspapers and other content.

Diamond also disclosed a technology development and distribution pact with Microsoft, and introduced software that will allow users to transfer songs from their CD collection to a Rio player or their PC.

The Rio 500, due to go on sale at a price of $499, includes 64MB of storage, or enough to store up to two hours of music or 32 hours of spoken audio content. That's more than twice that of the original Rio PMP300, Diamond said in a statement.

The company has revamped the Rio's user interface with a larger, back-lit display, and has bundled new software with it designed to help users to search, organise and play back their music more easily. Called Rio Audio Manager, the software also allows users to record music from CDs onto their Rio player.

Besides MP3, the Rio 500 supports the MPEG2.5, G.723 (Audible) and ADPMC audio formats.