Neuros Audio

Although I’m usually not one to make commercial pitches in this space (links to Powell’s Books and CD Baby in the sidebar notwithstanding), I do want to put in a good word for Neuros Audio.

The Neuros Audio player is one of the newer entrants into the increasingly crowded portable digital music player field. Although their players have a number of spiffy features (including FM broadcasting and recording), they really stand out from this crowd because of their support of open source/free software. They have set up, a site for community software development and related discussion, run by Emmett Plant, former CEO of the foundation, someone I trust to preserve the free software spirit. They are releasing beta firmware for the ogg codec presently, and xiph has just released positron, a free software command line interface to the device.

They’ve even put forth a social contract. Although the document may leave something to be desired, it does manifest a fundamentally different approach to this stuff than the other big players.

The community might take pause at their position on patents:

DI maintains a portfolio of patents on its devices. These patents are an important defense against larger well-funded competitors in the consumer electronics space, but they will never be enforced against the Open Source community or other independent software developers. We hope to show the technology community at large that there is a difference between legitimate use of a patent on a hardware device, and patent abuse. We hope the Open Source community will understand our position, and continue to work with us to bring Open Source and Free Software to the technology industry.

At least they don’t see patents as an unmitigated good, and perhaps are the “least bad” option in this respect. I wonder how binding is their promise to never enforce patents against the Open Source comunnity. It’s a nice gesture, anyway.

So I just ordered the Neuros 128MB (all I could afford, and not even that). Right now there’s a fairly decent discount for the Open Source community (or anyone who goes to that page) which lasts until Thursday, and free shipping until the end of the week.

I’ll report back how it works out.