SonicBlue unveils two Rios

SonicBlue Inc. has announced two new flash MP3 players: the Rio S50, with an integrated FM tuner, and the Rio S35S, with a rugged shell for athletic use. SonicBlue unveiled them on Monday and expects to start shipping both models in coming weeks.

The S50 includes 128MB of built-in flash storage for holding up to four hours of music, according to SonicBlue. You can upgrade the flash memory to 256MB.

The US$180 unit also includes an FM tuner, a clock, and a stopwatch. Sonic claims the included rechargeable battery offers about 20 hours of playing time; a single, standard AA battery offers enough juice for 35 hours.

The unit can handle both MP3 and Windows Media Audio (WMA) files out of the box, according to SonicBlue. Future software upgrades are planned to enable SonicBlue to update the unit to accommodate new and upcoming formats, as well.

Music on the Go

SonicBlue targets its US$200 S35S at athletes looking for a durable MP3 player they can use during workouts and other full-motion activities.

Like its bigger sibling the S50, the S35S includes 128MB of flash memory (upgradable to 256MB) and an FM tuner. It also supports both MP3 and WMA formats, and includes clock and stopwatch features.

The S35S's unique feature is its design. It's a small amoeba-shaped device that you can easily strap to your arm using the included armband. The device is designed for long runs or gym workouts, according to the company. SonicBlue promises the S35S will support 15 hours of run time on a single, standard AAA battery.

Both the S50 and S35S include Rio Music Manager for moving music files from the PC to the player. Manager also includes a database that lets users store all their music by artist, album, or genre. The application also lets users create their own playlists and incorporates an ID3 tag editor. (ID3 tags reside in MP3 files and include details such as artist, title, and album information.) For good measure, SonicBlue throws in two third-party MP3 management programs: RealNetworks' RealOne Player for PCs and Apple's ITunes for use with Macintosh systems.