The only sound louder than songs blasting from the Rio Portable Music Player might be the howls of outrage that this nifty device has provoked from the music establishment. Music has moved from LPs to CDs to MP3 — the new digital-compression standard for storing music files — and the Rio PMP300, made by Diamond Multimedia, is the first portable device to bring digital music to the masses. The Rio plays back music files that users download from the Internet. It can store up to 60 minutes of music or up to 16 hours of voice recordings. It's extremely mobile, weighing just 2.4 ounces and running on one AA battery. And unlike portable CD players, it doesn't skip when jostled. Additional flash-memory cards allow users to increase the amount of data that the Rio can hold. Your music may never sound the same again.
The Rio PMP300 sells for $199.95. Extra memory cards cost $49.95 (16 MB) or $89.95 (32 MB). Call Diamond Multimedia Systems Inc. (800-468-5846) or visit the Web (www.diamondmm.com).
A version of this article appeared in the April 1999 issue of Fast Company magazine.