Logic 3 i-Station

Istation1_1£60

The lowdown
If you want to listen to your iPod out loud and proud, the i-Station will turn your player into a mini hi-fi system. Plug it into the wall and it will also charge your iPod up as it goes along; stick in some batteries and you can take it out for day trips.

What’s good?
The white finish matches your favourite player (and, if you can cope with the colour clash it also works with iPod minis) and it comes with Firewire and USB 2.0 connectors, so you can hook it to a PC or Mac for transferring tracks.

What’s bad?
Sound quality is pretty much as you’d expect from a system that costs £60: rather tinny. There’s also not much evidence of a subwoofer at work.

Do you need it?
The i-Station is good enough for small rooms and, at £60, it offers good value, but there are better specified iPod speaker systems out there. The similar, but slightly pricier £100 Altec Lansing inMotion, Apple’s favourite, the £250 Bose SoundDock, and the audiophile’s choice, the £400 Eclipse TD307.
6/10

Logic3

October 28, 2004 in Personal Audio | Permalink | Comments (0)

Oregon Scientific MP120

Oregon£100

The lowdown
While swimming might keep you trim, ploughing through the lengths can be boring. Oregon Scientific claims to have the solution in the £100 MP120, the first pool-friendly player, compatible with MP3 and WMA files.

What’s good?
While not the last word in high fidelity, the MP120 delivers a reasonable rendition of MP3s and radio stations via its FM tuner. Bizarrely, it seems to sound better underwater than above it.

What’s bad?
The downsides were that it does not play loudly, and to keep the earbuds in place I had to adjust the goggles' strap every few lengths.

Do you need it?
The MP120 isn't the iPod with water wings - it only has 128MB (two hours of MP3s) of storage - but for serious swimmers, it is £100 well spent.
7/10

www.oregonscientific.co.uk

September 14, 2004 in Personal Audio | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sony HMP-A1

sony_hmparound £500

The lowdown
This music player has just launched in Japan. We managed to get hold of a sample complete with English menus.

What’s good?
It's actually a pretty decent model. Screen size is only 3.5 inches but picture quality from various MPEG4 sources (Terminator, Bad Boys etc) was excellent. Other good points included two headphone sockets (but no external speakers), a video output for hook-up to a TV and, so were are told, native MP3 playback (though whether that will be the case for the UK model remains to be seen). There's also a USB input for connecting up a digital camera etc.

Menus are pretty easy to navigate around (icons are provided for pictures, movies and audio) with neat left/right, up/down arrow keys to the right of the screen. Sound quality is also much better than from an iPod with the video display automatically switching off as soon as an MP3 is played to preserve battery power

What’s bad?
Now for the bad news. Storage capacity is way too small (just 20Gb), sound from the video clips was lacklustre and there isn't any DivX compatible as yet.

Do you need it?
Still, it's better than we thought and might do quite well here if there's enough MPEG4 video content and enough storage capacity to make it worthwhile.
7/10

www.sony.co.uk

September 14, 2004 in Personal Audio | Permalink | Comments (0)

iRiver H340 40GB

ihp340£360

The lowdown
iRiver's digital music players are held in fairly high esteem by MP3 enthusiasts who praise them for their excellent sound quality and innovative features. IRiver has added what is certain to become a key facility on rival models: a colour screen. Uniquely, it can also connect via USB to devices like digital cameras.

What’s good?
The device now moonlights as a reasonably good quality picture viewer, displaying JPeg images. Another neat feature is that you can connect certain digital cameras to the player via USB to transfer the images over - a lifesaver when you are on holiday. Like its predecessors, the H340 offers playback of MP3 and WMA files, a voice recorder and FM tuner, and battery life of 16 hours.

What’s bad?
The 2in display doesn't make it any easier to find your way round your music collection - iRiver needs to work on the interface. Its key flaw is its size: it is both bulkier and heavier than its key 40GB rival, the Apple iPod.

Do you need it?
In spite of its bulk and UI, the H340 is an innovative player at a reasonable price.
7/10

www.iriver.com

September 14, 2004 in Personal Audio | Permalink | Comments (1)

Samsung Yepp YP-55

yepp_yp55£99

The lowdown
While this might not be the smallest MP3 player in the world (that accolade goes to the BenQ Joybee 102, apparently) there's no doubting the 128MB Samsung YP-55 is tiny. Smaller than most cigarette lighters and small enough to sit on - though thankfully it's quite a robust little fella.

What’s good?
We tested the 128Mb unit down the gym and were impressed by the sound quality. Even at fairly low volumes you can drown out the sound of irritating MTV presenters on the gym's TV screens. Toggling between tracks is relatively simple using the top of the player which forms a sort of forward and rewind button and the player is also compatible with both MP3 and WMA formats (it can also record MP3 tracks directly from an external source, though we haven't used that function yet).

What’s bad?
Our only real gripe is that some of its functions are extremely difficult to use. The FM Radio is virtually impossible to access (the badly written instruction manual throws little light). And we wouldn't recommend trying to view the LED display (which shows album and track information) when you're on the treadmill - unless you want to take out the person behind you doing warm up exercises!
tasteful.

Do you need it?
Small may be beautiful but not if it means you can't access half the functions.
6/10

September 10, 2004 in Personal Audio | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cowon iAudio M3

cowon_iaudio_m3_cradle.JPG
£239.99 BUY FROM HERE


The lowdown
iPod rivals come and go but few seem to have any impact on its popularity. The £280 Cowon iAudio M3 MP3 jukebox has a better chance than most on account of its gorgeous silver design and the fact that it is significantly thinner and lighter than the Apple player.

What’s good?
The M3 trounces the iPod in the features department. It supports MP3, WMA and Ogg Vorbis formats, can moonlight as a voice recorder, record directly from CDs/hi-fis and has an FM radio built in. In terms of sound quality there's little to choose between this and the iPod either.

What’s bad?
To keep the size of the M3 down, the screen and several menu buttons have been incorporated into its remote. This is good, because it means you don't have to get the player out of your pocket when you want to change albums, but also bad as it is a tad fiddly to operate. The screen is a little small, too.

Do you need it?
This is a cracking MP3 player and, at £239.99 for 20GB (around 5,000 tunes), it is well worth considering.
8/10

BUY FROM HERE

September 6, 2004 in Personal Audio | Permalink | Comments (0)

Apple iPod Mini

apple_mini_ipod_family.jpg
£179 BUY FROM HERE


The lowdown
The iPod mini holds fewer tunes than the original players, but it’s also smaller, lighter and available in 5 different colours.

What’s good?
iTunes, which accompanies the player, is easily the best MP3 software - even for Windows. The option of storing music in the AAC format is handy too as it gives a slightly better quality performance than MP3. Then there's the device itself, with its spinning menu wheel. While other MP3 jukeboxes almost rival it for speed of access to tracks, their button-based systems are nowhere near as elegant or as fun.

What’s bad?
Windows users will need a PC with either a USB 2.0 or a Firewire connection, so if your PC is more than a year old, you'll have to upgrade it. The device also doesn't come with a recharging/transfer dock - you pay extra for that. The only serious blot is its pathetic eight-hour battery life. With MP3 players offering at least 12 hours and Sony's MiniDisc players soldiering on for 50 hours, the mini looks pretty poor in comparison.

Do you need it?
While 4GB may not seem like a lot of space, with enough room for around 1000 tracks it’s more than adequate for most people. It’s also pretty reasonable value for money: it’s smart, works well and comes in fabulous colours.
9/10

BUY FROM HERE

September 6, 2004 in Personal Audio | Permalink | Comments (0)