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e-Briefing | Gadgets & Gizmos

An MP3 Memory Explosion

March 01, 2001

The latest trend in portable MP3 players is super-sized memory banks that provide two to five times the capacity of last year's top-of-the-line models. One example is the sleek but jaw-droppingly expensive Creative Nomad II MG Limited Edition, which sells for a penny under $800.

Creative touts this 256-megabyte Nomad as a collector's item, with only 800 units produced. It has four times as much memory as the $300 Nomad II MG, which has 64 MB, but otherwise the features are the same. Those include an FM tuner, voice recorder, programmable processor and, regrettably, control buttons that are too easily triggered by rough handling.

The additional memory makes a huge difference in the usability of the player without adding size or weight to the magnesium-clad Nomad II MG, which is smaller and lighter than a deck of cards. More than four hours of near-CD-quality MP3 or Windows Media files can be loaded onto the unit, enabling users to go days without reloading. It's a good thing Creative made only a few of these players, though--Sonicblue's Rio unit just came out with the Rio 800 Extreme, which offers more memory (384 MB) for less money ($600).

For the most storage per dollar, the leader remains Creative's Nomad Jukebox. That model offers a 6-gigabyte hard drive--enough space for about 100 hours of music--for less than $500.

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