updated 11:10 am EDT, Sat September 30, 2006
Mpio FL500 Player
The scroll wheel on the iPod is known for the fine-grained control it gives. All the same, many veteran audiophiles will point out the lack of tactile response from an ultra-modern, touch-sensitive pad. For those listeners, Mpio's FL500 MP3 player hearkens back to portable radios and stereos with its analog dials. Changing the volume, playback mode, and FM radio frequency are handled by click-free metal knobs that give subtle levels of control. The only concessions to the digital technology inside are a menu button and a switch to skip tracks. As a music player, the FL500 is noteworthy mainly for being platform-agnostic: it works with both MacOS X and Windows PCs. While initially available only in Korea, the 1GB ($102 US) and 2GB ($126) variants of the player may well arrive in North America as Mpio has a regular presence on our shores.
The company is also shipping the FY800, a jukebox in the style of the more modern iPod nano. It uses a circular control pad and a larger screen in the familiar shape of an ultra-thin (0.4-inch) bar. The player also gains an SD card slot that can expand the built-in flash storage as its owner's music collection grows. Without the presence of analog dials, the price of the FY800 drops to $83 US for 1GB and $102 for 2GB. Click through for a photo.