The Good Compact and lightweight; SD expansion slot; FM radio; stopwatch; robust software; playlist support; strong battery life.
The Bad Doesn't feel supersturdy.
The Bottom Line Rio once again delivers one of the spiffier sports-style MP3 players.
Last year, the sports-style Rio S35S was a hit. The 256MB Rio Cali ($199), one of three flash-based MP3 players in the company's 2003-04 line, is also athletically inclined and should appeal to runners and gym goers. Like the street-oriented Rio Chiba, which differs in its accessories but not much else, the Cali is attractive and lightweight. Our only concern is how well it'll hold up over time.
Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.
The Rio Cali measures 2.5 by 2.6 by 0.8 inches. Its elliptical shape makes it look like a fancy stopwatch, a feature that happens to be built into the player. At 2.2 ounces with the battery installed, the Cali is so light that you might doubt its build quality. It survived just fine through two weeks of rigorous testing; we just can't say how well it would hold up over several months. The unit comes in a green 256MB and a yellow 128MB version. Both have black rubber trim.
The Cali comes with an armband and a hip holster. The latter is designed for shorts and running pants; we clipped it to a belt loop to carry the player to the office.