Jan 30 2004
Looking for a flash-based low cost alternative to the iPod that still has some style? Enter the Fuse. This 128 MB player looks as cool as it sounds. It runs on a AAA battery that supplies more than a dozen hours of music. Its back-lit LCD display is easy to read, and its controls accessible.
After the slick styling you’ll enjoy the convenience of an onboard USB plug, eliminating the need to cart around a cable. The plug is concealed by a cap, and the overall player is one of the most compact and lightest I’ve seen. It sounds good too, with handy eq presets.
I wasn’t all that impressed with the Sennheiser ear buds. They lack the full range sound you get from other headphones. And although the firmware is upgradeable on your Mac, these upgrades can have dire consequences when they go bad. I’d recommend sticking with the “if it works, don’t mess with it” rule.
While were talking about Mac compatibility, I should point out that contrary to popular belief, this third party player works well with iTunes. Through a plug-in installed in iTunes, the Fuse shows up in iTunes sources drawer, and adding tunes is as simple as drag and drop. For some reason, I never got the “eject” to work from iTunes.
One major drawback: you can’t use the Fuse as a flash drive. The Fuse uses its own file format, and cannot be mounted as a drive. This limits the multipurpose utility of the player, though the 128 MB wouldn’t stretch too far anyway.
This player is for the die-hard music fans that place a premium on style and size, and don’t mind missing the extra functionality. For eBook listeners, you’ll be interested in the bookmark feature, which allows you to keep your place even between power-ups.
A note on compatibility: Music downloaded from the iTunes Music Store isn’t compatible with any player but the iPod. However, music can be converted by burning-then-ripping or with multimedia software.
The Rio Fuse goes for about $100.