- By John Lettice, The Register -
Sonicblue, producer of several interesting Linux-based devices, filed for Chapter 11 earlier this year and sold off its ReplayTV and Rio business units as part of its survival bid. But although hardware supplies are drying up and official support has been largely cut off, a weird side-effect of Sonicblue's difficulties is that there are still a few bargains to be had, often at a fraction of build cost, and there are sufficient enthusiasts out there for there still to be support and development resources available.
In a fit of gadget-hunger last year The Register bought a close-out priced Linux-based tablet PC. Supplies at that source dried up immediately, but progear-repair.com has some stocks of new and refurbished units, the entry-level refurbished model being $499, for a Crusoe-based machine that first went on sale at over $3,000. And there are support sites at progearhacking.com and Yahoo, with useful advice about upgrading hard disks and getting a more functional version of the OS than the one that shipped onto the machine.
The Rio Car, a StrongARM-based player that originally sold with a 10 gigabyte hard drive for $1,299, is now advertised at carplayer.com at $799 for a 40 gigabyte version, although the most recent piece of news on the site, from last month, reports stocks of only ten refurbished units. Some support for the devices (including software and source code downloads) can however be found with the Car Player's originators, Empeg.com, and there's an unofficial messageboard at here.
There are possibly slightly larger stocks available (US only) for the Rio Digital Audio Receiver, which TigerDirect.com currently has listed for $89.99, down from $349. The unofficial message board for this one is here.
Dead, but not quite? There's maybe an argument that Sonicblue's wares were sufficiently ahead of the curve for them to have a few more years in them still - and you clearly stand a good chance of being the last on your block to have one...
Copyright 2003, The Register