By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
MP3 players: hardware
But who wants to listen to music on a computer?
Interesting question. The answer is: You don’t have to. In late 1998, the Santa Clara–based Diamond corporation introduced the Rio, a portable MP3 player smaller than a Walkman and “holding” about an hour of music. The catch is, you must transfer your MP3 files from your computer to the Rio, or to whatever device you choose. Since the debut of the Rio, a number of imitators have followed. Among the most intriguing is the Sony VAIO Music Clip. It’s a cylindrical device about the size of a pen. It holds MP3s that you have translated into Sony format, as well as songs that you transfer straight from CDs.
The Apex Digital 600A DVD player comes with the capacity to play MP3 files on CD. You’ll need a CD “burner” that lets you create homemade CDs from files on your computer. A single CD, however, holds up to 12 hours of MP3 music, obviating the need for a multi-CD changer and allowing for a marathon mix.
A lengthy list of MP3 hardware devices can be seen at http://hardware.mp3.com/hardware.
Internet music in your car
A technological innovation hasn’t really arrived until you can use it while driving. The AIWA CDC-MP3, which will be released next month, plays CDs “burned” with MP3 songs — for those really long drives where you just don’t feel like changing discs.
Another automotive MP3 player comes from a Canadian company called 6-Net (www.gnetcanada.com) that specializes in “car computing.” Its Web site entices you with such hype as “Imagine going around the bend at 60 mph while video conferencing with your business partner.” Uh, yeah — imagine perishing in a fiery wreck.
Fortunately, listening to MP3 music is somewhat more compatible with driving than “video conferencing.” GNet’s “Reality” is probably the most powerful car player out there. Retailing for as much as $849 and as little as $699, the box comes with a 10-gigabyte hard drive. In MP3 terms, that’s about 200 hours of music — more than 3,000 songs. And if that’s not enough, then you can install a drive holding up to 37.5 gigabytes — about 15,000 songs. The Reality is great if you’re planning a little drive from, say, Nome, Alaska, to Cabo Tres Puntas, Argentina, and you really don’t want to listen to the radio.
On the other hand, if you do enjoy pushing radio buttons, the next generation of in-car devices will play not only MP3s but also “streaming” audio (in other words, radio that’s broadcast over the Net). Sitting at your computer, using either RealPlayer or Windows Media Player software, you can listen in on hundreds of stations worldwide, as well as Internet-only broadcasts from sites like Netradio.com and Spinner.com. Within a year, reportedly, several companies will begin marketing devices that pick up the Internet via satellite. So if you’re driving from Bakersfield to Barstow and you can’t shake the urge to tune in BBC One, or Tokyo’s Shibuya-FM, you will have that choice.
And after all, isn’t choice what the Internet is really all about?