Review When Rio launched the CE2100 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, the internet was awash with excitement. As a 2.5GB hard drive-based player in a small casing and with 20 hours of playback, what was not to like? Despite that buzz, five months in the world of the gadget industry is a long, long time, writes Stuart Miles.
In that time we've had the iPod Shuffle, the Sony NW-E507, plus a slew of other players from Creative and iRiver. Amazing as it sounds, the Rio has become over-sized, over-priced and just not as exciting as it was on announcement day.
Based on the chassis of the Rio Carbon, the controls - the D-pad and central button on the front - are identical. This makes the navigation very simple, and the D-pad offers fast-forward, rewind, stop, play and pause. The central button as been designed as an action button and is used to select songs, menu options or to reveal information about the songs themselves.
On the side of the player is the switch that accesses the menu system and that's it as far as buttons on the player go. Just like the Carbon, the CE2100 uses a standard USB 2.0 connector.
Songs can be dragged and dropped on the player and this means that not only will it work on both Macs and PCs, it also means that it's the first Rio to do so. You don't have to rely on dedicated software, although Rio has bundled Rio Music Manager if you really must.
Listening to the player, it all sounds good. The sound was equivalent to the Karma and the Carbon, with plenty of bass. Although the bundled earphones feel cheap, that's par for the course for most personal music players released in the past decade.
While Rio got it right with the Carbon, simply putting in a smaller hard drive and re-badging it as the CE2100 doesn't really wash with us. Had we been playing with this model back in January when it was announced, without knowing what we now know about the rest of the market and the releases that followed, we're sure that the review would have been very different. As it is, any ground gained by the Carbon has been lost with the CE2100. It might sound good, but as we said at the beginning, it's overly large for the size of the drive - the shuffle might be half the capacity, but it's the size of a pack of chewing gum - and over priced - Rio is quoting £149. More to the point, it just doesn't offer the wow factor the competition does. Disappointing.
|Pros||Easy to use; good sound quality.|
|Cons||Its size and styling when compared to competition.|
|More info||The RIo site|
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