...this spectacle case and its contents.
While my wife and daughter have audio players (each has a Sansa E280), when I'm out of the house I tend to listen to music while working on a latop, where I have all my music to hand anyway. So I've pretty much avoided audio gadgets apart from the quirky Iomega HipZip I was given while working for Red Hat UK in Cambridge - this used little 40MB disks and ran the eCos operating system that Red Hat inherited from Cygnus UK.
However, I'd like to store my digital tracks on something and play them in the kitchen, so instead of buying a portable audio player I bought (a) a Sony CMT-HX80R DAB Micro System with USB input, and (b) a handful of 4GB SDHC memory cards to plug into it, via a USB memory card adapter. I've been looking for something small enough to sit on the shelf in our tiny dining area off the kitchen (which would originally have been occupied by a bed for the unfortunate kitchen maid, back in 1860s Edinburgh).
I'm pretty pleased with the Sony CMT-HX80 - it's small, and the sound is excellent for such small speakers. Much better than the powered computer speakers I used before. As you can see from the piccy, I've plugged in my Eee PC (for watching Have I Got News For you during supper, that YouTube moment, etc.), and the Sansa dock. Unfortunately, Sony only put an audio-in socket on the front, and no further audio input sockets are available. So I bought a 3-way stereo switch (£12) from Cybermarket.co.uk and it's fairly discreet next to the Sony.
So, now I can choose between several memory cards and plug each into the adapter and then into the Sony's front panel. OK, so it does stick out a bit and it does risk being snapped off if someone gets too close, but no accidents yet. Disappointingly, the Sony can only handle 999 tracks per USB device, so it's not practical to plug in a hard disk full of tracks. On the other hand, navigating through albums and tracks is fiddly on the Sony display so you wouldn't want to cycle through thousands of albums to get to the desired masterpiece. Archiving albums onto individual cards is a reasonable compromise. Currently I have one each for Pop, Classical, Film, and the complete works of Al Stewart.
Incidentally, the Sony has a trick up its sleeve that I didn't know about when I bought it. It can record a CD to the USB device (in real time) and this includes copy-protected music. So I was finally able to the rip a CD with intrusive copyright protection - A Beach Full of Shells by Al Stewart, which I heartily recommend despite the stupid DRM.
So, to get back to the spectacle case. I needed something to store my memory cards in and a quick hunt around the house produced this cute case that my daughter got from her optician a while back. Maybe I'll find something more professional, but right now there's not a lot on the market for storing a library of memory cards.
Well, maybe this isn't exactly the future of music in the home - but it's a pretty good solution for us. We've got the choice of music via the DAB radio, Eee PC, Sansa E280, memory cards, and CD. Problem solved!