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USAToday's Review of the Pioneer Inno

Look out iPod: Inno marries satellite radio, portable music

On April 26th, 2006, USA Today's technology reviewer Edward C. Baig reviewed the Pioneer Inno in an article titled "Look out iPod: Inno marries satellite radio, portable music." Here are some highlights:

    The Inno's main benefit hit home the other day as I walked around New York's Upper West Side. I'd been listening to live XM radio when I entered the depths of the subway, where XM reception is beyond the reach of the satellites, or for that matter the 'terrestrial repeaters' that help boost a signal in large cities.

    By pressing the 'mode' button on the front of the Inno, I instantly switched from live radio to prerecorded tracks: XM broadcasts, plus a mix of Windows Media files and MP3s I'd either ripped from CDs or purchased and downloaded via XM's online music partner Napster.

    You can easily record songs or channels off XM on the fly, or schedule recordings in advance. Nice touch: Songs you record off XM are broken out into individual tracks when you play them back. What's more, as long as you're already tuned to a channel, you can capture an entire song, even if you press record up to 10 minutes after the song has begun. The recording automatically stops when a song does, unless you arranged to keep recording a channel.

    By default, Inno 'partitions' or splits the 1 gigabyte hard drive 50-50, to store up to 25 hours of XM content and about eight hours of MP3s and WMA tracks. You can devote the entire hard drive to XM material, but then you cannot store any of your own tracks on the device. I wish there were more partitioning options. On future models, I'd like to see a bigger hard drive, and perhaps removable memory.

    A few annoyances: Each time I connected Inno to my PC, I got a message inside Napster asking me to upgrade the 'firmware' on the device, even though I had already done so. Because of the way you must plug in the AC adapter, it takes up the space of two outlets on my power strip.

    I'm not ready to swap an iPod for an Inno. But Inno is a winner. Here's hoping Apple takes a hint.

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