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Rock-a-droid

Oct 18, 2010, 17:34 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jonathan Corbet)

"Your editor's iRiver H340 music player attracts stares in the crowded confines of the economy class cabin; it is rather larger than many newer, more capable devices, contains a rotating disk drive, and looks like it should have a smokestack as well. But your editor has continued to nurse this gadget for a simple reason: it is no longer possible to buy anything else like it. The device is open, has a reasonable storage capacity, and is able to run Rockbox. It is, thus, not just running free software; it is far more functional and usable than any other music player your editor has ever encountered. These are not advantages to be given up lightly.

"Why can't the H340 be replaced? Flash storage is one of the reasons. A solid state disk makes obvious sense in a portable music player, but an immediate result of their adoption was a reduction in the storage capacity of the players. Your editor, who has had a lot of time to accumulate a music collection, does not want to select the music he will hear prior to leaving the house. Some time recently spent in Akihabara shows that capacities are slowly growing, but there was only one non-iPod device on offer which matches the H340: a pretty Sony player which does not support useful formats (e.g. Ogg) and which is certainly difficult to put new firmware onto. Needless to say, there is no Rockbox port for that Sony player. In conclusion: there is still nothing out there as good as the H340, at least for your editor's strange value of "good."

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