Great value for a rock solid player
Reviewed in the United States on 15 May 2020
If you're looking for a rather good MP3 player at-or-under $30, I have yet to find one that works as well as this one. The sound is good, the functions actually work as described, it's got a nice mechanical switch for the lock, and I suspect someone actually put in a good amount of effort into making this, and it shows. Even the English is pretty good! I've gone through nearly a dozen cheap players, and this one is the best I've found.
Long form version:
So it's 2014, and I want a dedicated mp3 player so I don't have to drain my phone's charge or disk space, something I can carry and wear around while exercising or working in the shop or mowing the lawn or whatever. My otherwise awesome Creative Zen X-FI had finally died. So I search for 'best mp3 players'.
Did you know some folks think their mp3 players are worth 600, even 800 bucks? In 2020? For a reality check, I searched for ipods, they're so a decade ago, so they'll be cheap, right - they're $200? What?
Every year since I've pretty much ended up grabbing a cheap ~$20 mp3 off brand mp3 player. Some have lousy range (like, jeans pockets = no connection to headphones), most lack settings you'd think were mandatory (playlists, shuffle, play music while doing literally anything else). Some had no internal storage, and others claimed to be 32 gb, but broke after storing 2 gig. Most of them sounded awful and skipped constantly.
So this year, my recent piece of cheaply made red plastic junk died and the manual ("look to on and then from lock with happy to see reset") was of no help, so I resignedly searched for something to replace it. I went big time this year and went up to $30 - I know, big spender.
So, enough of my backstory. What did I get? I got an actual decent piece of kit for the first time in half a decade! Yeah, surprised me too.
My initial observation was that it doesn't feel cheap. It's made from a pretty solid piece of machined steel, has a nice heft for the size, and while I didn't test it, it seems like it'll take a big of a knock-around before breaking. +1 right there.
I checked all the features it claimed to have: plays mp3s, shuffle, connects to bluetooth, playlists, speakers, radio, voice and radio recorder, equalizer, shows pictures, lets you read text files, and video. Apart from the video, it all seems to work as you'd expect. Let's cover the highlights:
The MP3 functionality works, and while the earbuds that ship with it are not the greatest, the speaker is loud enough and clear enough to be usable, and with a decent headset (bluetooth or not), it's perfectly clear, no skips, no static. As the pictures show, it also loads album covers if you're into that and put them in your folders.
It doesn't even pause or hiccup when you navigate around the device - it keeps playing the song. There's no third-party software to manage the playlists, and I'm still not entirely sure how they work to be honest. What I did find out is that if you put the songs you want to listen to in a folder, use the 'browser' feature to navigate to it and play any of those songs, and hit shuffle, it'll only play the songs in that folder. So, a poor man's playlist, but it works for me.
The Radio feature works fine, but it relies on having a (wired) pair of headphones to act as an antenna. Either it can't pick up a signal without that, or the functionality is simply disabled until you do plug one in, but neither the speaker nor bluetooth will play anything until you do. Seems silly to plug in headphones and then listen via bluetooth, but there you go.
The Ebook portion simply lets you read text files. It is not text-to-speech. Like the image and video functionality, I don't expect that it's something you'll end up using a lot.
Speaking of the video player, it claims to support avi/amv, and that does not mean actual 'avi' but rather, specifically, only the AMV format. I didn't waste a lot of time on trying to get this to work or converting my files. I assume it works, but I only ever got 'format error'. You don't usually buy an mp3 player to watch teeeny-tiny videos on anyway.
The equalizer portion isn't very detailed - there's just 6 settings, Rock, Funk, etc, with no description of what they do. I set mine on Rock, and it seems fine.
It charges from a bog standard microusb slot (cable included) so your standard 3.6-6v wall wart will work, or you can just plug it into a computer. There's a microsd slot, but I didn't have anything to test it with.
There's a mechanical switch on the side to lock the device, so you can slip it in your pocket and not accidentally skip songs or mess with the volume, but the power button itself is a soft switch (hold to power on/off).
All the instructions and in-device text is readable english, the only 'engrish' I saw was the bluetooth option screen which had "open," and "off," instead of "on," and "off", and that was easy enough to suss out.
The biggest not-really-a-problem I had with the device was that I kept thinking it was a touch screen, and it is not. You use the touch controls on the right to navigate.
The only real con I had was those playlists. Not only did the feature not seem to work as I'd expect, there's no way to access them - such as via the USB transfer - so I can't even try to modify them externally. Of course, since I found a workaround, I'm fine, and really this is a small issue for something I'm probably just going to put on "shuffle all songs," anyway.
Request to devs: Make the playlists appear in their own folder as text files, one file per line, name of the file is the playlist name. This is a feature no other mp3 player I've seen has, and it'd allow easy management and a simple third party program could manage it in a nice GUI.
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