- Posted by:
- Posted on:
If you can’t stand the native operating system on your portable MP3 player, you can make it rock out with Rockbox. Rockbox Utility is an installer program that simplifies the complicated installation process of the open-source MP3 player firmware. While the firmware itself can be seen as a first step toward returning control of the portable device to audiophiles, the Rockbox Utility is as large a leap as going from a typewriter to a computer.
Compatible with more than two dozen MP3 players, including most iPods, iRivers, and Archoses, Rockbox comes with a detailed and lengthy installation and usage guide. The old autoinstaller was rarely successful and more often a waste of time. The Utility turns the installation process into something that almost anybody can do. Although users can resort to the old manual install if they like, there’s no reason to not use the Utility. Fire it up and you’re greeted by an intentional error: you must choose the device that you’re going to load Rockbox on to. From there, the interface guides you through a series of options, including a full install, a stripped-down version, and various customizations organized by tabs. There’s even an autouninstaller, if you decide that Rockbox isn’t for you.
Rockbox itself is impressive. Besides being skinnable, it comes with dozens of games and productivity plug-ins like a chess clock, a drawing program, and a feature called Voice for users who have vision difficulties. The sound settings are completely customizable, from bass, treble, and balance to dithering and more complicated equalizing. You can also create CFG files for different setups, so you can have one for your car and one for your headphones. MPEG videos are supported on players with native video capability, and fonts can be sized to your liking.
Rockbox still takes some getting used to, but we think it makes an excellent options for audiophiles who feel constrained by immutable defaults.