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HardwareZone's 10th Anniversary: The 1998 - 1999 Era

Portable Media Players in 1998

Portable Media Players in 1998

The truth is, portable audio devices have been in existence since the early 1970s thanks to the introduction of the Walkman series by Sony back then. From cassette tapes, compact discs, mini discs and onward to the digital era, it was a time of change for the portable entertainment scene. Just a year before 1998, the first digital audio player (DAP) was created not by the current major players such as Sony, Apple or Creative, but by a South Korean company by the name of SaeHan Information Systems. Introducing its first DAP as the MPMan (Ok, no points there for the "originality" of its branding), Eiger Labs subsequently acquired the license and by 1998, the Eiger Labs MPMan F10 was commercially available to the consumers.

 Storage capacity wasn't at its best back then, and with 32MB of flash memory, the Eiger Labs MPMan was touted to support 30 minutes to several hours of music. Whether the claim about several hours is through lower bitrates or a repeated loop of the 30 minutes of music, we won't know, but it does have a rated 9 hour battery life.

In that same year, another company took on the DAP approach and introduced another choice for consumers looking for a portable audio player, and once again, it was not from the big boys of today, but from Diamond Multimedia in the form of its Diamond Rio PMP300 . Though just slightly later than the MPMan, the Rio PMP300 was the centre of attention not for its feature, but the legal ramifications due to the action by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in its move to block its production. This was the precedent incident that brought much media attention to the legalities of digital audio during the online sharing boom. Needless to say, RIAA lost the case, and the golden age of digital audio boomed.

 Though released in 1998, the Diamond Rio PMP300 reached our shores by 1999 and was promptly reviewed by www.hardwarezone.com.

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