It doesn’t matter if you spend your time under the boardwalk, up on the roof, or around the way, girl, summer is a three-month excuse to kick back and relax. And what better way to do this than with your favorite songs on MP3? Okay, that’s a stretch, but bear with us. Herewith, a look at some of the hottest audio gadgets of the season:
SONICblue RioRiot ($399) Up to 400 albums can be stored on the RioRiot’s 20GB drive. Enough music for those occasional trips to, you know…the moon. Still, those who can really find that much to listen to will appreciate the built-in FM tuner, large LCD screen, and terrific, easy-to-navigate interface.
Apple iPod ($499) The original iPod packed 5GB of memory into a svelte body — and became an instant hit with the digerati. This is the latest iteration, with twice the memory and a new equalization feature. Think of the new iPod as a sleek sports car: It may not have the beefy memory of 20GB models, but you gotta love its lines.
Nike psa play 120 ($249) A nifty collision of hardware and athletic wear: With an expanded 128MB of memory (optional), runners can strap the 2.6-ounce Nike around an arm and hear up to two hours of their favorite music. A remote control attached to the headphones will let you pick your favorite tracks — without ever breaking stride.
Audiovox MP-1164 ($149) Call it little audio dynamite: The diminutive MP-1164 has something of an attitude problem, carrying a 64MB chip on its shoulder. But hey, with a large LCD display and expandable memory (SmartMedia Card), we’ll take the attitude.
Creative Labs NOMAD Jukebox 3 ($399.99) Sometimes less is more. And sometimes more is more. The Jukebox is a case of the latter: Its 20GB of memory is enough to store 340 hours of tunes. It has a big sound, too. The proprietary EAX technology offers a variety of effects and 3-D spatialization. We call this livin’ large.
Sony Net MD MZ-N707 ($229.95) The MZ-N707 is what Sony came up with when it fused MP3 technology with a MiniDisc (MD) player. With this odd little hybrid, users can store and retrieve up to five hours of MP3 files on a MiniDisc — and create several good-size libraries of their favorite tunes.
Samsung YP-90S Sports Yepp ($189) Yepp, it’s an MP3 player. Samsung’s oddly named audio player comes with 64MB of embedded memory (about an hour’s worth of music) and a built-in FM tuner. For type A’s on the go, the YP-90S even doubles as a voice recorder — ”Note to self: Why are people suddenly staring at me?”
AKG K 240 Studio ($179) Yes, it’s true — these 8.5-ounce headphones boast a ”low-impedance XXL transducer” and (hold on to your hats, gents) ”patented Varimotion technology.” And yes, this is our snarky way of saying that these ‘phones sound ”pretty freakin’ good.”
Koss PortaPro ($49.99) With its collapsible headband and padded carrying case, the Koss is the road warrior among high-performance headphones: Unless you have the hearing of a mild-mannered reporter at the Daily Planet, you won’t even begin to appreciate the 15-25,000 Hz frequency range. You might even call these headphones super.