RipGO! Mini CD-R Burner and Digital Audio Player
(Reviewed with Mac OS 9.2.2)
Price: $299 MSRP (check the Imation web site for rebate offers)
This phase one review was conducted in OS 9.2.2. Our OS X comments will follow as soon as RipGO hardware and software are compatible with X.
EXCITEMENT AND MIXED REVIEWS
RipGO! was the most intriguing new product concept introduced at January’s Macworld Expo. Is it an MP3 player? Yes. Is it a CD-R burner? Also yes. Is it small, light, and affordable? Definitely. Does it have any competition? Not really, because it is one-of-a-kind, at least for now.
Our demo unit arrived on March 22, but not until April 16 was I able to resolve some minor technical matters, and burn my own MP3 discs with confidence. MyMac.com thanks our contacts at Imation for thorough tech support. New owners of RipGO can expect the company to explain whatever details are necessary to use this product as designed.
WHY AND WHAT
My experience with RipGO was mixed, yet I maintain an optimistic outlook on this unusual item, especially with a few minor improvements suggested below. The first question informed Macintoshers will ask is WHO NEEDS THIS THING WHEN IPOD DOES THE JOB MUCH BETTER? The answer is simple: RipGO is cross-platform, with infinitely scalable and versatile custom disc burns available stretching out to infinity. Let’s take a closer look.
RipGO ships with a comfortable, lightweight set of headphones, a couple of MiniCD-R blanks, long-life battery, power adapter with extra long cord, custom USB cable, Quick Setup printed guide, and an installation disk containing burning software and a longer 37 page manual in PDF format.
The physical RipGO unit is contoured to fit comfortably into my mid-sized adult male hand. Its weight is modest, and its exterior material finish is high quality and sturdy. A hole lower front left accommodates stereo headphones, and a small light flashes different colors depending on what RipGO is doing at the time. Red is my favorite, meaning a burn is underway.
Charging the battery is a breeze, as is connection to a USB port on your computer. My iMac DV ran RipGO better when attached directly to the computer than when routed through my powered USB hub, but your mileage may vary in this regard.
Burning software is called NeroMAX (F&U), whatever that means. Imation’s FAQ states Toast Titanium will work, but I chose to use Nero for this review because that’s what ships with the product. We’ll have a report on RipGO with Toast in the future, so please be patient.
Both RipGO and NeroMAX feel like they were developed for the Windows community first, then reworked for the Mac crowd. This observation doesn’t raise my blood pressure like it used to, but two aspects concern me:
I had to fiddle with Nero to get it to burn, but thanks to George on Imation’s tech team, when NeroMAX worked it performed beautifully. RipGO is USB, meaning it’s S – L – O – W in every way imaginable, especially when you’re used to working with FireWire accessories.
Whatever you do, DO NOT use Nero’s Wizard to burn your MiniCDs, because it doesn’t work as well (if at all) as clicking on Record in the Menu Bar. Dragging MP3 files “CLICK-HOLD-DRAG-RELEASE” into Nero’s top window is similar to doing the same thing in Toast, as are the progress screens that follow. Working with NeroMAX at length, it soon becomes nearly as automatic a procedure as does Toast, fortunately for Imation.
Nero names each completed disk “ROOT,” and I can’t figure out how to rename them. At the end of each recording session you’ll be asked if you want to delete an image file. Get rid of it, and don’t ask me why.
SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL
MiniCD-R is a delightful format, but don’t let your dog swallow them. Each one has roughly 200MB capacity, meaning you can record over THREE HOURS of MP3 music on each blank. Your completed music discs can then be played on every computer that has a CD tray or drawer, as well as slot-loading iMac DV’s, according to this Apple Knowledge Base document. My wife’s tray-loading iMac 266 handles RipGO QuickTime music playback without a burp or complaint.
Imation sells blank MiniCD-R in a five-pack for under $7.00, meaning the disks are both smaller and more expensive than their full-sized CD-R siblings. Don’t let price scare you, because convenience and MP3 playback are the major factors here.
TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER
When I think of Imation, the company, I think of “imagination” and “innovation.” These think-different Minnesotans must eat a lot of powdermilk biscuits, because they are certainly not shy about being “out standing in the field” of computer accessories.
Imation became famous for their SuperDrive, sold to umpteen thousands of original iMac owners (plus bazillions of PC users). Their go-it-alone business model (does this remind anybody of Apple, perhaps?) involves creating unique products for developing technology markets, and RipGO is no exception.
NeroMAX is the weak link in the admirable RipGO product realization, and not until Imation gets cozy with Apple and Roxio will Mac persons adopt RipGO in any quantity. Apple may not be in a hurry to compete with iPod, albeit in a different format and mode of operation, but MyMac.com urges Imation to embrace the Mac-way of software-hardware consistency.
Meanwhile, we want RipGO to succeed. The more the merrier is the trend with exciting peripherals in the CD-R family of gadgets. Our wish list includes:
MyMac.com will remain focused on RipGO as its story unfolds. Watch this space for future developments and product evaluations. Thanks, Imation, for getting us to first base with RipGO v.1. Our in-progress rating is:
MacMice Rating: 3 out of 5
Shows promise! Could be better, but a product worth watching.
Nemo’s MyMac.com “Q/D/S/V Standard” for all product reviews:
Q = QUALITY, including ease of installation, performance, stability, and general happy relationship with everything on my system;
D = DOCUMENTATION, both printed and electronic, plus appropriate website material;
S = SUPPORT, in the form of email, phone, and web updates;
V = VALUE, which includes both original cost and subsequent expenses