capsule review


The latest entrant in the already crowded field of portable MP3 players, RCA's Lyra2 has its share of cool features, including great sound and a new FM tuner. It comes with accessories that are often optional with other players, including a tiny remote control for adjusting volume and directing playback; a power cable that plugs into your car's cigarette lighter; and a cassette-shaped adapter that lets you play music from the Lyra2 via a cassette deck.

Unfortunately, it also has more than its share of flaws. Transferring MP3s is a hassle: most MP3 players connect directly to the Mac, but with the Lyra2 you have to remove the 64MB flash memory card, insert it in the USB-based writer (which is almost as big as the player), and then use the bundled MusicMatch Jukebox software to transfer the files. Transfers are sluggish: a track that zipped into the Sonicblue Rio 600 in 12 seconds took 22 seconds to transfer to the Lyra2. And next to Apple's iTunes (which doesn't support the Lyra2), MusicMatch Jukebox is downright ugly.

Macworld's Buying Advice

The Lyra2 is priced to compete with other MP3-FM combo players. But if you don't need FM, the $220 Rio 600 is a better MP3 player--it's less expensive, faster, and supported by iTunes.

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