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The Rome MP3: Portable MP3 playerwith a twist
I've been a fan of MP3s for quite a while now. I've even gone as far as converting our entire CD collection to the format, as well as building a CAJUN system for my Chevy S10 Blazer.
I'm sure you've all seen the various portable digital music devices that have been released over the past year or so. Starting with the Diamond Rio, and continuing through literally dozens of players, all very similar in design to each other.
Well, a while ago while, flipping through an issue of "Portable Computing" magazine, I came across an article detailing several of the portable MP3 playing devices currently on the market, and one of them really caught my eye.
When you first receive your RomeMP3 player, you're supposed to charge the battery for a full 3 hours. I didn't. Like most of us would, I wanted to play with this sucker immediately. Unfortunately I ran into a few snags, so I ended up sticking the battery in the charger. I then tried to forget about my new toy until it was time to go home.
The Rome Manager software is very simple and easy to use. Just browse through your computer using the explorer-style tree on the left side, select a few MP3 files, and download them to the Rome. Because the Rome uses a parallel port cable for transfers, it can take a while to move music to and from the player. This arrangement was only slightly annoying, and isn't much different from most other portable MP3 players on the market.
The player: solo
The UP-301 model player that I received is the first in a line of RomeMP3 players. This model comes standard with 32MB of memory, a small compartment for the slim, 1.2v rechargeable battery, and your standard assortment of control buttons. Along the top edge of the Rome you'll find your most commonly used controls, such as: play, stop, fast forward, rewind, volume controls, and a "hold" button. The "hold" button functions much like the hold feature on a portable CD player; when activated, it keeps you from accidently triggering one of the other player functions. Along one side of the player you'll find the 1/8 inch stereo headphone jack, as well as controls for intro, menu, EQ, A-B, repeat, and random.
I rarely used any of the more advanced controls, mostly because the only display that the UP-301 has is a single LED on the front of the player. This LED communicates the current state of the Rome by blinking in some bizarre, morse-code like way. A small LCD display would have made using some of these more advanced controls much easier. Despite the lack of a traditional display, the Rome was very easy to use.
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