MP3 Player Liquidation

I predicted the demise of Rio’s entire line of portable music players when they started selling off the intellectual property rights. I didn’t want to be right. My Rio Karma was my favorite portable player, right up until the day it stopped booting. Rio was just starting to understand the need for creating cool devices that weren’t named after slang terms for controlled substances and I had high hopes for somebody making a player that really stands up to the iPod line. Not because I feel an overwhelming need to hate the iPod, but because I want real alternatives.
Rio was among the first companies to offer MP3 players. As far as I know, they were the only one smart enough to cater to music geeks with support for lossless FLAC files and open source OGG formats. Rather than wax nostalgic about what might have been, I’d rather look at this as an opportunity. An opportunity to pick up some low cost hardware that is. With the company dumping the entire product line, eBay is now the place to score some brand new Rio players at prices that put the hurt to companies still trying to manufacture new players. Many of the units, like the Carbon support the Yahoo subscription music service.
But there’s no support if it breaks, I hear you saying. Of the eight or nine portable players I’ve owned since acquiring my first from Samsung in 2000, none has failed before the warranty was up. It’s either a case of forced obsolesce or a case of strange luck, but the players I own all made it through the warranty period before any glitch appeared. So in my mind, buying cheap makes more sense than buying for the perception of a company’s ability to support the player after the sale. The other reason cheap portables on eBay look attractive is because the prices are cheaper than the cost of purchasing one of the drives inside. Buy the player on eBay, gut the drive, and turn it into a portable hard drive or mass storage device for your digital camera.
There’s no telling when the influx of Rio gear flooding eBay will run out or when the next iPod competitor will be the next victim of liquidation. In the meantime, I’m keeping my eye on the existing deals. This might be the month I test the limits of Prospector Lite.