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Rio Carbon

5GB portable MP3/WMA player

5 Reviews

Item # 048CARBON5

This item is no longer available.

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Our take on the Rio Carbon

Just slightly larger than a business card, the Rio Carbon MP3 player can go anywhere with you — just slip it into your pocket to bring along the fun! The 5GB hard drive can hold up to 80 hours of music (recorded at 128 Kbps). With a built-in rechargeable battery that's good for about 20 hours per charge, you'll never run out of tunes!

Just slightly larger than a business card, the Rio Carbon MP3 player can go anywhere with you — just slip it into your pocket to bring along the fun! The 5GB hard drive can hold up to 80 hours of music (recorded at 128 Kbps). With a built-in rechargeable battery that's good for about 20 hours per charge, you'll never run out of tunes!

The Carbon has a built-in microphone as well — perfect for making audio notes to yourself, or recording that college lecture. In addition to being an amazingly compact music player, the Carbon also features a stopwatch and lap timer — handy for working out with music.

With the supplied Rio Music Manager software, sorting and selecting songs to transfer is as easy as drag and drop. The USB 2.0 interface and supplied cable let lets you load songs quickly. The Carbon lets you organize your music your way — set up playlists of only songs in a certain genre, artist, year, or just your latest additions!

Product Highlights:

  • plays MP3, WMA, and Audible (#2 and #3) formats
  • 5GB hard drive holds approximately:
    • 160 hours of music at 64 Kbps
    • 80 hours of music at 128 Kbps
    • other bitrates also supported
  • backlit LCD displays MP3 ID3 info
  • built-in stopwatch and lap timer
  • repeat and shuffle play
  • adjustable EQ with 1 custom and 5 preset settings
  • built-in microphone
  • USB 2.0 interface (cable included)
  • earbud headphones
  • AC adapter
  • Rio Music Manager software CD-ROM
  • weight: 3.2 oz.
  • auto-syncs with Windows Media® Player 10
  • up to 20 hours playback with rechargeable lithium ion battery
  • 2-1/2"W x 3-5/16"H x 5/8"D
  • warranty: 90 days
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
Computer Requirements:
    • Windows® 98SE, Me, 2000, or XP
    • 64MB RAM
    • 35MB available space on hard drive
    • USB port
    • Macintosh OS X v10.2
    • iTunes® 4.2 or greater
    • 64MB RAM
    • 35MB available space on hard drive
    • USB port

    What's in the Box:

    • 5GB Digital Media Player
    • Leather carrying case
    • Power adapter
    • Stereo earbuds with 41" cord (terminated by a right angle 3.5mm stereo miniplug)
    • 5' USB cable (with USB-A connector on one end and a Mini-B USB Version 2.0 connector on the other end)
    • CD-ROM software for PC and Mac
    • Quick Start Guide
    • Promotional sheet for
    • "Stop--need help?" sheet (with Rio Customer Care number)

    Rio Carbon Reviews

    Average Customer Review(s):

    (5 Reviews)

    Great Player

    Richard from California on 7/11/2005

    This is truly the best portable player on the market. The only drawback is that it isn't yet compatible with Napster2Go, and the firmware update for that is taking a long time (Note that despite repeated attempts, Napster has been unable to get Apple to consider compatibility with Napster2Go). Other than that, I can't fault anything about this unit. It is simply the best that the current technology can manage, and a major step ahead of Apple. Granted it isn't bullet proof, and will break if you drop it, but then what won't? It is a shame that IPod fans have to constantly add bad reviews to evey forum (knowing they have never used the product) just in order to lower the rating. The best price, and best technology will determine what company does well, and what company fumbles its market share. Bad reviews of other products by Apple fans won't change the market. Try each product and decide for yourself. I personally can't justify the price difference and lack of compatibility, not to mention weak battery on the IPod. In short, if you are an Apple fanboy/fangirl, then you will want the IPod, if you are unbiased, then try each and I think you will agree this MP3 player is far better.



    Great player

    David from Pittsford, NY on 3/22/2005

    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    I bought this player primarily for my son. Now I don't want to give it up. I read all the reviews before I purchased. I was concerned about the durablility based on some of the reviews and therefore purchased the 2 year protection plan just in case. So far I am more than pleased with the Carbon. No problems whatsoever. The softwear is very simple. I have not had any problems loading files. I use the player mostly for audio books and therefore wanted the bookmarking capability, that iPod does not have. Sound is great. It works well both with the supplied earbuds and may higher end Sony Fontopia without any static. I can't imagine needing more than 5 gigs. After a couple of hours of trying to deal with Amazon on the Audible $100 dicount I gave up. Should have gone to Crutchfield in the first place. Order was placed and the e-coupon processed for me within minutes. With the Audile discount, the Crutchfield price and a rebate the Carbon was $79. Pretty hard to beat that.



    looks good but definetly hardware issues

    Julie from carmel on 3/6/2005

    I bought this rio in high hopes that i was surpassing the "ipod craze" but how could you not? 5 gigs, plenty of battery life, whats wrong with this thing? well the first week i had this, the volume wheel (located in the top right) collapsed inward. It would still turn on but i just so happened to have left it on a quiet volume i couldnt listen to it. The wheel broke with little use i wasn't beating on it or anything. I send it back and get another one hoping that this problem would only happen once. 3 weeks later the same thing happens again only this time the rio wont even turn on. I came pretty close to throwing the defective garbage through the wall. I'm finally decided that I am going to swallow my pride and go buy an ipod.. at least they are durable.



    Road warrior delight...

    Jim from On the road a lot... on 2/27/2005

    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    Nice player, easy to use.<BR>I loaded over 800 songs from scratch in just a few hours. The included software makes ripping a breeze... especially the online links to CD information.<BR><BR>Good size, easily fits in pocket or travel bag side pouches.<BR><BR>Reasonable sound for the format... just enough volume level (I'm in airplanes all the time), but probably not enough for serious hard-rockers or head-bangers. EQ is limited, but again, overall sound is as good as the medium allows.<BR>I'd recommend ripping WMA files at 192kbit... very good quality with very few defects, then.<BR>Battery lasts a long time... easily recharges from USB port on computer.<BR><BR>Does NOT support the newest Napster deal (subscription playback) so beware.<BR><BR>Highly recommended.



    Not bad

    andrew from Philly on 2/22/2005

    This is a really great mp3 player in almost every way. It's only down fall is that the volume control is easily broken. A friend of mine dropped it onto a table from about 1 foot and the volume control wheel seemed to break off and is now not controling the volume anymore. I don't know how to fix it so i guess ill just have to leave it at 1 volume for now.




    Hands-on research

    Product Research

    Supplied Software


    5GB Hard Disk Drive: The Rio Carbon 5 digital music player's 5GB Hard Disk Drive has the capacity to store up to 80 hours of MP3 music files (recorded at 128 kbps) or up to 160 hours of WMA music files (recorded at 64 kbps). The unit can also be used to store data files if desired.

    Compatible Music Formats: The Carbon 5 can record music in MP3, WMA, and Audible #2 and #3 formats. It works with most online music services, allowing you to purchase and download files in those formats.

    Voice Recording: In addition to downloading files, you can also make your own voice recordings. The recordings are made in the ADCPM WAV format.

    Power Options: The Carbon 5 is equipped with a built-in rechargeable Lithium Ion battery. When fully charged, the battery has a playback life of approximately 20 hours. It can be charged in about 2.5 hours using the supplied AC adapter. You can also charge the battery when the unit is connected to the computer via the supplied USB cable. Note: the unit charges via USB very slowly and should only be charged in this manner if charging overnight.

    Earbuds: The unit comes with a pair of stereo earbud headphones with a 41" cord and a right angle stereo 3.5mm mini-plug.

    USB 2.0: The unit is compatible with USB 2.0 making downloads faster. A 5' USB cable (USB-A connector to USB Mini-B Version 2.0 connector) is included in the package.

    Playback Options: You can playback the loaded files on the Carbon 5 from the following categories: Play All, Album, Artist, Genre, Track, Year, New Music, Playlist, Spoken Word, or Recordings. Selected tracks can be played in standard or random order. Repeat playback can be performed on all tracks, one track, or Repeat off.

    Bookmarks: You can store specific player settings, including the current running order, the current track, the current time position of the track, and playback settings in a bookmark. Bookmarks can be used to place a digital bookmark in a digital audio book or extended length track, maintain a position in long term running orders, or save and restore your personal settings when you share the player.

    Equalizer: The Carbon 5 is equipped with a 5-band equalizer. Each of the 5 bands (80Hz, 250Hz, 1kHz, 4kHz, 12kHz) can be boosted or cut up to +/-14dB. In addition, you can select one of five preset EQ options: Rock, Jazz, Classical, Pop, or Trance.

    Power Save: The Power Save option can conserve energy and extend the amount of playback time during each battery charge. You can select a length of time that the unit will automatically shut off after being idle. Settings include 1 minute, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or Never.

    Display Adjustments: You can set the duration of the display backlight to Off, 2 seconds, 5 seconds (default), 10 seconds, 20 seconds or On (constantly backlit). The contrast of the display from 0 to 16 (default value is 6).

    Resume Feature: You can set the Carbon 5 to begin playback of the last track played before shut down or the first track in the running order when the unit is powered on. If the current track option is selected, you can set playback to begin at the point the track had progressed when the unit was shut down or the start of the track.

    Stopwatch: The Carbon 5 has a built-in stopwatch. You can set and display multiple lap times, average lap times, and difference between lap times. The stopwatch continues to operate even when you navigate through the menu. It only stops and starts when Play/Pause is pressed in the stopwatch mode.

    Locks: You can independently lock the volume setting, center button, and the control pad, to avoid accidental operation.

    Supplied Software

    Rio Music Manager: The supplied CD-ROM contains the Rio Music Manager software, which allows you to perform the following:

    • Save: Audio CDs can be ripped and encoded into compressed digital audio formats. Rio Music Manager encodes files into WMA format by default. To encode as MP3 requires an optional upgrade pack.
    • Synchronize: You can automatically synchronize the music collection on your computer with your Rio Carbon 5.
    • Edit Tags: ID3 Tags and WMA tags on digital audio tracks can be created, deleted, and edited.
    • Organize: You can organize and manage digital audio tracks on your computer and your Rio Carbon 5. Music files can be dragged and dropped to and from the digital music player.
    • Search: You can search for tracks on your computer and your Rio Carbon 5.
    • Create Playlists: You can group your audio tracks into a custom playlist and save for later use. The unit supports .asx, .m3u, and .pls formatted playlists. (The track referenced in the playlist must be present in the player.)
    • Transfer: Once you have managed your music files on your computer, you can transfer the desired tracks onto the Carbon 5 player.

    Rio Music Manager and iTunes: The Rio Carbon 5 is compatible with Macintosh OS X v10.2 systems using Apple's iTunes 4.2 or greater. The supplied CD-ROM contains a Rio iTunes plug-in that allow the unit to be used with a Mac operating system.

    Software Updates: With an Internet connection, the Rio Music Manager can automatically detect the most recent version of the software, and allow you to download the latest version with one click.

    Minimum System Requirements:

    • Windows 98SE, 2000, ME, XP or Macintosh OS X v10.2 or later
    • Intel Pentium II 233 MHz or equivalent
    • 64MB RAM
    • 35MB available hard drive space
    • USB port
    • CD-ROM drive

    Firmware Updates: The About menu gives you the unit's current firmware version. Occasionally, firmware updates are made available and can be downloaded from the manufacturer's website.

    Our Product Research Team

    At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team. They verify what’s in the box, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.