A Quest – Network enabled cheap MP3 player

28 07 2008

I’m looking for something, maybe folks can help me out.
I want a small MP3 player that will stream audio over the network. The commercial version is the Roku Soundbridge. I wouldn’t mind building my own, hacking together parts, whatever, but I really haven’t found something that fits the bill.
Here’s the requirements:
* Must stream MP3 from a remote (network) source
* Can be wireless or fixed wire
* Should be small enough to mount on a wall
* Laptop running Linux is POSSIBLE, but only something that could mount / sit in Tablet orientation
* Total cost should be less than $50
* Should have at least a minimal display showing volume, source, and current track
* Line level output (RCA or headphone jack)
* Prefer opensource / linux based, but a commercial solution would work also.
* Should have local controls for pause, next track, volume, but not a requirement
The best configuration I can come up with is a handheld device running Angstrom or the like, but the most baseline iPaq or similar is still $50-$60, and I dont’ have a lot of experience with the current generation of iPaqs.
I’ve also considered picking up a Zaurus SL-5500 or two and using them. They seem to go for a good price on eBay, and certainly are opensource. Good video, touchscreen, and can take an SD card for network.
Anyone else have any ideas? There are zillions of opensource MP3 player boards on the web, but none have network interfaces on them (that I could find). I’m open to suggestions!




3 responses

28 07 2008
Chris Devers

It’s not what you want, but an iPod touch does most of the things you ask for:

Can stream audio from last.fm, Pandora, AOL Radio, FlyTunes, etc. I don’t at the moment see anything for streaming to/from a home media server, though the official Remote app can manage iTunes on a Mac or PC on the local network.
Has built-in 802.11g WiFi, but no Ethernet
Small enough to fit in a pocket
Runs in tablet mode always
Cost is above your budget, at $300 new, though I have a hunch it will fall by Autumn to compete with the new iPhone
Line level out to lots of third party speaker (etc) systems
Proprietary, but runs most common audio & video codecs (but no ogg, flac, shn, etc).
Full set of controls, and more so with Remote.

But I have a hunch that you’ll reflexively dismiss this whole line of thought out of hand, not least for the cost, but also because it comes from Big Brother… πŸ™‚

28 07 2008

I won’t reflexively dismiss it, it’s a great device, and would, as you say, do everything I want… for 6x the price I want to pay.
The primary issue in all of this is price. If i wanted a fixed streamer, I’d go for the Roku M500 or similar (the 500’s are going on ebay for in the $75 range, but that’s limited in it’s sourcing).
Cost cost cost πŸ™‚

28 07 2008
Chris Devers

Putting cost halfway down the list of requirements made it seem like the cost priority was at a similar level, rather than tops πŸ™‚

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