January 28, 2004

Rio S35S

I've wanted a portable mp3 player ever since mp3's first came out, but didn't for one reason or another.

The Rio S35S caught my eye when it first premiered a number of years ago. It represented what I wanted out of an mp3 player. Small, rugged, good for running, and a decent capacity.

Make: Rio Audio
Model: S35S

I wanted one of the more sporty models that wasn't HD-based, had a decent display, and could be strapped or clipped onto my person without any trouble. The S35S did all that easily and has more to offer, such as FM tuner, stopwatch, Itunes capatability, and a SD memory port to upgrade the memory.

The tuner works remarkably well for such a small device. Doesn't look like the reception changes with the orientation of the headphones, either. You can store what seems to be an almost infinite amount of presets(all the stations I could pick up in my area, easily) for the FM band. Accessing the FM tuner is relatively simple.

The stopwatch is probably the hardest to access(which isn't saying much). You can start it running while it's playing, so you don't have to forgo songs or the FM dial in order to time your event. Nice.

The menu is pretty straightforward. The only thing that trips me up is mistaking the enter for the menu button and vice versa. settings are easy to get to, and the equalizer is functional, but not as fine as the one on, say, Winamp. Aside from the stopwatch, everything else seems to be in it's place.

The interface is fine. my only complaint is that I've either haven't figured out resume on the system, or the control dial is too sensitive to outside bumps. one brush up against something and you'll lose your song or station. The menu button almost seems out of place on the side of the unit, but it's nothing to gripe about.

Playback is nice and clean. The included earplugs are functional, but the over-the-ear piece can never keep the buds in my ear. Drives me nuts when I'm running. The strap and rubber grip for the player feels very secure, but makes the outer controls a little difficult to access. The headphone jack is blocked a little by the grip, but a little tug on it and a push on the jack snaps it into place. Last thing that concerns me is that the usb port is only accessible when the headphones are out and there is no rubber cover for it when not in use. suck...

The unit comes with 128MB of memory(4mb used by system). I'm averaging about 26 songs or so per playlist, although if all the files were of consistent bitrates, it would probably be more. Enough for when I use it for exercising, but I might get a disk for it for long trips or marathons.

This unit rocks for it's intended purpose: solid mp3 playback during rigorous physical activity. While it lacks the capacity and some of the playlist options of other players, you will be hard pressed to find a sturdier player.

Final Review
Design: 4.65/5.00
Capacity: 3.75/5.00
Build Quality: 4.5/5.0
fun factor: 4.75

Overall: 4.35/5.00

Very cool little unit, even if the memory is a little skant compared to it's HD brethren.

Posted by Jeffrey at January 28, 2004 5:23 PM
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