The end of my karma

Published on 28 June 2008 in ,

After three and a bit glorious years of usage, it looks like my beloved Rio Karma MP3 player is on its way out.

Rio Karma

Whilst still playing, the scroll-wheel on the side of it (a glorious old fashioned dial which allowed fantastic speed) on it seems to have now stopped working – I guess three years of near constant usage have taken their toll, and whilst there is an alternative method (the red “RioStick”) of moving through menus, it’s a lot slower and designed more for precision than speed.

Hoping that a fix would be simple, I whipped off the Karma’s case and took a look, but to no avail – indeed I made the situation worse by managing to disable the Lock button! Having had a look on the t’internet, it may be that a simple application of plastic glue may solve it, but then, knowing my repairing skills, it may not.

So it’s replacement time. Alas. Cos actually I always liked my Rio Karma. Scrolling through a list of artists was very zippy compared to, say, the iPod.

But perhaps the one thing I’ll miss isn’t even that important – it’s a matter of principle and nothing else. For my Rio Karma supported my favoured music format – the open source and patent free Ogg Vorbis.

Ogg Vorbis has been my music format of choice due to its open nature for years, and the fact that I could buy a Rio Karma and have the same benefits was a huge boon.

Unfortunately Ogg support is rather sketchy in most other players – in the cheaper end you’ll find many cheap ones do support it, but not in the upper end. Given Ogg Vorbis is free to implement, it does seem rather surprising – but then with most people probably using WMA, MP3 or AAC, then probably not. Secretly I always knew it would be an issue – which is why I’ve been ripping CDs in both MP3 and Ogg Vorbis format for the last few years.

Now you could argue that’s a complete waste of time, effort and hard drive space. And you’d be right. It is. Completely and utterly. I now have every album duplicated in two formats, simply so I can say to anyone who cares (which, and lets be brutally honest here, is actually next to no one!) that I’m using Ogg! It will be a rather redundant choice in the end – and with a heavy heart, I’ll probably just delete the directory of Oggs…

There were other things I liked about the Rio Karma. You could sync it via Ethernet – very useful when I first got it, as my old PC didn’t have USB2 support. Plus it had Linux support, in the form of a Java applet which allowed you to upload files (this was before most MP3 players started just appearing as removable storage devices) – although truth be said, I often ran into problems with recent versions of Java, and ended up doing it via the Windows client instead.

Still, all good things must come to an end. It’s 20Gb hard drive was getting a bit on the full side so replacement was kind of inevitable. However sometimes you have to mourn first…