Rio Debutes its New iPod mini Killer

The parent company of Rio, Digital Networks North America, Inc., debuted Monday a new, 5-gigabyte portable music player that company said will be its major competitor to Appleis iPod Mini.

The Rio Carbon, (see image below) is smaller, lighter and has a bigger internal hard drive than an iPod mini, all for US$249 - the same price as the Apple product. The Carbon weighes in at 3.2 ounces using Seagate Technologyis new 1-inch, 5-gigabyte hard drive. In addition, Rio claims the Carbon has 20 hours of playback time on a rechargeable battery, compared to 12 hours for the mini.

The Rio player will not be compatible with Macintosh computers or will it play songs download from the iTunes Music Store. Instead, the player will play songs encoded in the Windows Media Audio or MP3 formats and is only compatible with online services using WMA, such as Napster, Sonyis Connect service and Wal-Martis music service.

The new Rio player will also be among the first to support Microsoftis new anti-piracy technology, dubbed Janus, that allows rented songs from online music subscription services to be used on portable devices.

In May, Rio ranked second to Apple in the MP3 player market, with a 14.6% share compared to Appleis 39.2%, according to The NPD Group, which tracks sales at retail stores in the U.S. only.

The new device will be available in late August.