Mossberg: Dell, Rio, Creative ‘iPod mini killers’ lag badly behind Apple iPod mini

“Multiple competitors, having failed to dent sales of the main iPod, are taking aim at the Mini. In fact, some manufacturers believe the majority of the market for portable hard-disk based music players will shift during the next few years to lower-capacity, mini-size players,” Walt Mossberg reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“The theory is that most people don’t need to carry more than 1,000 songs or so, and will flock to lower-price, smaller devices. Some speculate that the higher-capacity iPods, and similar full-size players, will be left to hard-core music lovers. So the new battle over the Mini is a big deal,” Mossberg reports. “My assistant Katie Boehret and I have been testing three of the challengers: Dell’s $199 Pocket DJ and the Rio Carbon and Creative Zen Micro, which are both $249. The Rio Carbon hit shelves about a month ago, and the Dell and Creative players will be available in November.”

Mossberg reports, “But these companies all have offered supposed iPod killers in the past with similar advantages, only to see them fail to achieve big sales. Especially in the Mini category, where simplicity and fashion seem paramount, the question we posed was: Are the new challengers as simple to use and as stylish as the Mini? In our judgment, the three players are closer in style to competing with Apple’s Mini than competitors have been in the past. But all three still lag behind badly in simplicity and ease of use — so badly, in fact, that we can’t recommend them over the Apple.”

Full article, in which Mossberg details his reasons why the iPod mini also-rans don’t measure up, here.


  1. That was predictable.

    I have seen the Rio Carbon and Creative Zen Micro. Functionally, I don’t see what the big deal is. The UI and controls are no where near as good as on the iPod, and if you have big hands, the Carbon should shouldn’t even be considered.

    I haven’t seen the new Dell mini-wannabe, but have seen the old full-sized version. The Controls aren’t as the iPod’s either.

    As far as these three products are concerned, Apple has nothing to worry about.

  2. Hardcore music lovers mean ‘most people.’

    Yup, most people LOVE music… all kinds… now the idea of carrying around all your picts to show Grandma when you visit and have your library of songs… hey, that’s the iPod Photo…


  3. Rio Carbon : Wouldn’t accept some protected WMA files.

    Dell DJ and Zen Micro I couldn’t find PlaysForSure info on… but they both had serious compatibility problems with various computers…

    I think “PlaysForSure” is going to be a complete disaster with cavets and gotchas for every single device and store… eventually the device makers will take the logo off their products because of the stigma attached to it. Hey it’s been over a week, where is Microsoft bragging about all the songs they sold at their store? I wanna see those numbers! ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  4. It’s easy to “see into the future” regarding people wanting smaller players when Apple has already proven that to be the case. Once again, Apple is ahead of the curve, and has released it’s first incarnation of a product that will only get better. A product that Walt predicts will be desired by consumers is already available, in the form of the iPod Mini. Now, I know Walt is a respected guy in the tech world, but does it take alot of brains to figure out that the product already exists and to mention Dell and Creative etc is moot since they are, once again, (un)fashionably late?

  5. Carbon. An ugly, dull metal. What a sexy name for a music player. (Great name for an API, though. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” /> )

  6. “But all three still lag behind badly in simplicity and ease of use — so badly, in fact, that we can’t recommend them over the Apple.”

    So they could actually be worse products and they’d recommend them over Apple, but these are sooo much worse that they can’t.


  7. Don:

    Thurrott is buy as fast as his wife will let him, but the MS check got held up in the mail. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

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