Rio Carbon

Rio Carbon

The Rio Carbon is a line of digital audio players formerly produced by the now defunct Rio. They are hard disk-based audio players that can hold either 5 or 6 gigabytes of music, depending on the model. Available colors included silver and pearl. An 8 GB model with a colour screen was planned, but was never produced because of the demise of Rio in August 2005.


The Carbon was announced on August 2, 2004.

Rio officially exited the portable music player market in August 2005 and is no longer providing firmware updates for the players. The last officially released version of the firmware (1.95) supports subscription-based PlaysForSure licenses, and PlayForSure purchased licenses.

A previously unreleased version of Rio Carbon firmware, called "The Developer's Cut", was released in January of 2006 by enthusiasts, and offers several new and updated features. []


The Carbon features a microphone and a bidirectional wheel, which is used for scrolling and adjusting volume, along with a 5-way navigation pad. It is small in size (82 x 61 x 13 millimeters) and weigh 3.2 ounces, and is powered by a non-removable rechargeable lithium ion battery that has up to 20 hours of playback time.

The wheel is notched. Either the 5-way navigation pad or the scroll wheel and the menu button can be used independently to navigate through menus or they can be used together. The two have different behaviors, and are therefore complementary, not redundant. Since the wheel is used for navigation as well as volume control, one must leave the menu to adjust the volume.

The Carbon can play MP3 and WMA audio files as well as audio book files. It is Microsoft Windows, Linux and Macintosh compatible, since it is usable as a USB mass storage device. It is also PlaysForSure compatible.

Other features include:

* 5 or 6 GB of storage on a 1" microdrive
* 5-band equalizer with several presets
* Built-in microphone for voice recording
* USB mass storage device compatible, allowing for simple drag-and-dropping of files
* Built-in rechargeable battery offers up to 20 hours music playback
* Charge from the USB port or the included power adapter
* Windows and Mac compatible (the player itself is Linux compatible as well, but not the included software)
* Includes Rio Music Manager software to manage the digital music library
* Can carry non-audio files like a USB flash drive

Included software

Included with the purchase of the Rio Carbon and Rio Karma is Rio Music Manager, which can be used to transfer music to the Carbon. It only allows transfer of music files that are totally compatible with the player.


The Carbon, at the time of its release, had the unique distinction of costing less than one of its own components, its hard disk drive. This distinction led to an activity known by the slang term "carbonising," whereby customers purchase a Rio Carbon, only to dismantle it and sell the disk drive for a net profit.


The Rio ce2100 is a relative of the Carbon that features a 2.5 GB hard drive. The ce2100, sometimes mistakenly referred to as the ce2500, does not have a microphone, but retains the microphone hole since it shares the same case as the Carbon. It comes in black and green. The ce2100 is also compatible with the "Developer's Cut" firmware update.


*Version 3.04 supports both MTP and MSC connections.

External links

* [ Rio's list of hard drive audio players]
* [ Rio Audio Expands its Award-Winning Lineup of MP3 Players] - press release
* [ Forum thread about unreleased Rio firmware "3.02 and 3.04 The Developer's Cut"] via the Wayback Machine ( [ working download link] )

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