Rio Audio, a maker of portable digital music players, has unveiled a competitor to Apple's iPod Mini -- a 5 GB $249 player called the Rio Carbon.

Rio Audio, a maker of portable digital music players, has unveiled a competitor to Apple's iPod Mini -- a 5 GB $249 player called the Rio Carbon.

The company is also introducing the Rio Forge, a sport player using flash-memory that comes in three versions -- with 512MB of storage, for $199; 256MB for $169; and 128MB for $139.
Each device is compatible with Microsoft's Windows Media digital rights management and claims 20 hours of battery life. Rio is using this as a big selling point -- the iPod Mini claims only eight hours of battery life.

"In daily conversations with our customers, battery life is often mentioned as a key feature," says Rio president Hugh Cooney in a statement. "This keeps our customers focused on listening enjoyment rather than recharging the device."

Rio says the products are upgradable to work with Microsoft's new Janus portable subscription technology.

The Rio Carbon -- which claims to have 20% more storage capacity that the iPod Mini -- and the Rio Forge MP3 players are expected to begin shipping in August.

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