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HolidayBuyer's Guide
MP3 Players

Olive Opus packs music-serving muscle

The iPod is dead, everything's gone all music server. Forget hermetically sealed white boxes and ear buds, the future is hi-fi separates. The future is 400GB of music pumped into living-room speakers

Music servers are invading the consumer electronics landscape with the reckless persistence of ticks burrowing under your skin in the Peruvian rainforest. The more we scratch, the deeper they burrow. The fact is the iPod MP3 player just doesn't cut it for cable-worshipping audiophiles. If you really want digital music that blows your face off like a Daisycutter, you have to get your hands on one of these.

Olive joins the likes of Hermstedt, Yamaha and Denon in providing a high-end music storage device for those of us who dream of gold-plated phonos and oxygen-free speaker wire. If you're like Crave and the bitrate of regular MP3s just doesn't do it for you, then the best alternative is to rip your CDs at full resolution onto a separates unit like the Olive Opus (pictured).

The Olive can stuff 1,100 completely uncompressed CDs on its 400GB hard disk. This utterly puts the iPod to shame. Everything you hated about CDs -- their vulnerability to scratches, irritating loading procedure, ease of loss -- disappears once you've ripped your collection to hard disk. But everything you love about CDs -- their brilliant sound quality and high bitrate -- remains intact.

There's a USB port on the Olive which lets you plug in your iPod (vomit!) and upload songs. There's also built-in Wi-Fi and 10/100Mbps ethernet. We can't imagine anything else the budding music vigilante could need to furnish his or her collection. Expect a full review when the Olive starts shipping later this month -CS