Originally Published: Tuesday, 26 December 2000 Author: Trae McCombs
Published to: enhance_articles_hardware/Hardware Reviews Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Empeg Car MP3 Player And Software

MP3s in your car? I purchased one of these things and now I call myself lucky, in that I survived the software and installation.

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Several reasons exist for my hesitancy, but I'll go into those as this piece unfolds. Here is the rundown for those who like to do things by the numbers: Is an Empeg for me? Why exactly is the software for Linux poor? And finally, what's the overall opinion of the Empeg car MP3 player?

The reason I'm mentioning this piece of hardware here on Linux.com is simply because the player itself runs on Linux. Is this player for you? Do you have tons of money to waste? Seriously, I have doubts that I made the right choice.

I was suckered into the 36 gig model. It will cost you about $2000 US, not a price for the faint of heart. What are some of the considerations for deciding if this thing is for you? Do you have a T1 in your home? Or at least a hefty cable modem or DSL? If so, then you've got the first part ready. If you are one of the people still stuck on a modem, and unless you have access to TONS of MP3s, I wouldn't consider this product.

If you have 20+ gigs of mp3s and are dying to have access to them in your car, read on!

Another consideration is space in your car. Do you have room for an amp? Can you stand having your dash shaved (yes, shaved!) a bit so that they can squeeze the just ever so slightly non-standard housing unit into your car dash? If you have the space, the MP3s, the money, and are still left standing, then by all means, please read on. This may be the car MP3 player for you after all.

Software will make or break you on this purchase. Don't expect the world. The only software that you can get to interface with your empeg is emptool. The current version as of this writing is v1.01 -- for Linux that is.

If you manage to get the software to compile and ready to run on your system, you'll need to:

  1. Hook up your empeg to your lan.
  2. Make sure you have DHCP setup. (you'll find that information nowhere). Ugh.
  3. Then, simply run the emptool software.

    # emptool
You will now be at a weird command-like interface, probably one of the worst user interfaces I've seen recently.

Actual problems with the software: While uploading MP3s, if you try to upload any directories or files with spaces in the names, the software will die and hang on you. If you try to upload any more than roughly 4 gigs at a time, the software will die on you.

One would think that for as much money you paid for a "Linux" based piece of hardware, the manufacturers would spend much more time on the software that interfaces with it.

If you just have to have the latest toys, and want all of those MP3s in your car, go for it. It's worth the hassle. However, if your budget is tight, I probably wouldn't recommend it. My biggest beef is with the actual software. I haven't tried the Windows version, because I don't actually have Windows anywhere in my house. I bought a product that was supposed to be supported on Linux, and discover that the only software is pretty lousy.

One final note: I had a heck of a time with the support team from empeg.com. My empeg arrived broken. The company finally sent me a new front plate, but only after I had to send them several e-mails. They were cordial in their e-mails, and I realize that at the time of purchase they were going through being aquired by a much larger company. However, that doesn't excuse the lack of quality service that I expected.

In conclusion, the empeg as an MP3 player is fairly nice piece of hardware, but I hardly can recommend it unless you are just one of those people who enjoy pain. It does run on Linux, so that may be enough for guys like me that just feel they have to support the industry no matter how poorly the product is. Buyer beware.

Trae "OctobrX" McCombs started using Linux in September of 1996. He founded a site called Themes.org, and now works for VA Linux Systems as the site director of Linux.com.

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