[Old-school Review] Diamond Rio PMP300 (1998)
I'm pleased to announce you that I found a sealed brand new Diamond Rio PMP300 on ebay UK! This 13 year-old device in new condition is very rare as you can imagine so I'm very happy. All the more as I got it for only £15!
Here is a quick old school review.
As a reminder, the PMP300 from Diamond Multimedia is the world 2nd mass produced mp3 player ("mass produced" is an important detail here because otherwise it would be considered as the 3rd one. Indeed the 1st mp3 player ever is the Audio Highway Listen Up) after the MPMan F10.
Some people wrongly think it is the world 1st mp3 player because it has been more successful than the MPMan (better users feedbacks, more than 200 000 units sold) and has been more mediatized (see the major RIAA lawsuit)
But dates tell the truth: The MPMan has been released in April 1998 while the Rio PMP300 has been announced on September, 15th 1998, so 5 months later.
A big colored box like that was common at that time. "Internet Music in the Palm of Your Hand"
Hehe I can store 1hr of 128kbps songs on mine \o/
It's a pity they don't precise what is the CPU frequency as on the Samsung YP-E32 (10MHz)
The English User Manual, the product registration card, the CD with the Rio software only working with Win 95/98 and another CD containing several free mp3 music samples.
Click to enlarge the picture. So what is your processor? A 486? A Pentium II?
The brand new AA alkaline battery with 2003 as use-by date! And Diamond respected the customers. They provided a good Duracell Ultra! And surprisingly this battery still works. The battery indicator of the Rio shows 4 out of 4 bars!
No USB connector here. There is a proprietary cable with a parallel port adapter like on the very old printers! And Diamond did not forget the printers since it is possible to connect both the Rio and a printer on the parallel adapter!
The stock earbuds here are not the same as those provided on the very first versions of the PMP300 as it is written on a small paper sheet.
That said, both earphones models seem to be very bad
The device with the screen shield still in place!
The build quality is not really good, it looks -and is- very fragile but the design is nice (compared to the MPMan F10..) and the volume, random, repeat and A-B buttons are pleasing to the touch.
On the left side you can see the sliding hold button and the proprietary connector
On the top there is the 3.5mm output and the Menu, EQ & Intro keys.
At the bottom you can see the memory card slot (Smart Media up to 32MB). There is also the battery compartment.
On the back there is the removable clip and the slider to eject the memory card. The Rio is made in Taiwan.
The included software for file transfers only works with Windows 95 and 98. I don't have this OS anymore so I can't try it but here is a screenshot I found on the internet.
Fortunately some users developed alternative softwares working with Windows 2000/ME/XP. The most famous ones are "Dreaming of Brazil" and "RIOsitude". I personally used the latter, it works pretty well, it's almost as easy as with a USB connector. But of course the transfer rate is another story (only a few KB/s, forget MB/s...)
At startup the device proudly displays the total memory capacity, that's to said 32MB
Then music playback starts. The small non-backlight screen only displays a few information: tracknumber and elapsed time (and of course small icons for the volume, battery and the various functions). Unfortunately it doesn't read and display the id3tags.
The Rio managed to play all my up to 320kbps MP3 CBR and VBR files encoded with the latest version of Lame. But there are some display issues with these recent files. Indeed, the seconds change...every 10 seconds and the bitrate doesn't show up even with my 'normal' MP3 CBR 128kbps files.
But using the music samples provided by Rio (probably encoded with a very old encoder) everything displays normally.
You can adjust the play mode (random, repeat, intro only) and there is even the A-B repeat function that is missing on many current players!
However the sound quality is really terrible. Unsurprisingly the stock earphones are very bad but even when using good IEM it's still very bad, I almost cannot listen to it, it's so far from today's standards! Metallic sound, strictly no bass, it sounds like a mobile phone speaker. And the 3 available EQ Classic, Jazz and Rock don't improve the SQ...
The Menu button shows you the total and remaining internal and external memory as well as the firmware version. Yes yes, there is a firmware version! Version 1.2249 on mine. But the firmware is not user upgradeable. I assume the different firmware versions (if there are several ones...) only depend on the production date.
The Big Battle: Rio PMP300 vs Samsung YP-E32
On the right, the famous Rio PMP300 released in September 1998 and on the left, the YP-E32, the very first Samsung DAP announced at the CES 1999 so only a few months after.
It seems that Samsung took advantage of these additional months of development to use a bigger screen that displays id3tags and allows a better navigation on the device. The YP-E32 also features a voice recorder and a phone book. Its sound quality is (a bit) better. Finally it's possible to delete files directly on the device, which is not possible on the Rio.
However, the Rio is more ergonomic. Its buttons are better placed and more pleasant to use.
The Samsung is powered by 2 AAA batteries while the Rio only uses a single AA battery but in both cases the battery life is rather poor (13hrs max for the Rio, about 10hrs for the Samsung)
Unfortunately both players use a parallel connector (a USB adapter does exist for the YP-E32 but it has not been widely sold)
As a conclusion I would say the Samsung DAP is a bit more sophisticated.
In some days the Rio PMP300 will be 13 years old. 13 years in that field is an eternity. Personally I don't have many souvenirs of that time. Except me watching the 1998 FIFA World Cup Final France-Brazil at TV ahaha
Against the background of that time it seems Diamond made quite an entrance on the DAP market. At that time it was mainly reproached for being too expensive ($200 so about $270 nowadays) and having too little memory capacity (32MB), which was a disadvantage compared to the CD and MD players. However it was quite well welcomed for the other innovative aspects.
Actually the Rio PMP300 could be still almost usable today if it had larger memory capacity and a USB connector!
English User Manual (PDF format)
Original Rio PMP300 Product Page
My Samsung YP-E32 Old School Review
I'm French^^ *GenerationMP3 Samsung Moderator*
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