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128MB MP3 Player / Flash Drive / Voice Recorder Review

Mushkin Enhanced sent over one of their 128Mb MP3 player / USB Flash Drive / Voice Recorder units for DreamStation.cc to review. You may think this is an odd mix of things to put together, let’s see if you were right or if it makes the grade.

Mushkin’s MP3 player / USB Flash Drive / Voice Recorder unit is 3.8 x 1 x 6 inches in size and 1.2 oz in weight. The unit comes with earphones, a neckstrap, a rechargeable Lithium-ION battery giving 10 hours of playtime that can be discharged and recharged around 500 times, a USB extension cable, and CD drivers for Windows 98, and 98SE. The unit supports MP3 and WMA formats. We received the unit that is the 128Mb (also available in 256Mb and 512Mb) version which can hold about 30 songs in MP3 format (4Mb per song) and around 45 in WMA format. It supports MP3 formats up to 256 Kbps bit-rate and 128 Kbps in WMA format. The voice recorder will record up to 3 hours of talking in WAV/ASF formats.

Before I get started I thought I would tell you a little about the different digital formats for recording. Codecs do for audio and video what ZIP compression does for data. MP3’s were developed by Fraunhaufer and were designed with file size reduction and network streaming in mind. MP3 reduces the size of an audio file without seriously degrading the fidelity by tossing out frequencies beyond the range of normal human hearing and adjusting the amount of bits used to encode audio every second. AAC, MP4 is the codec from Apple when they launched the iTune. It’s performance is good but more emphasis is on the treble side than bass and has limited support by players manufactured by others besides Apple. OGC is a free open-source alternative to MP3. OGC tends to sound better then MP3’s at the same bitrate but the difference is very slight. WMA is similar to MP3’s but is Microsoft’s baby. WMA’s generally produce smaller file sizes when encoded then MP3’s at the same bitrate.

With that all explained, let’s take a look at the unit. Mushkin’s MP3 player / USB Flash Drive / Voice Recorder has a small LED screen on the front of it to show you what song is playing and the name of the artist. There is a little wheel on the right hand side of the player to change from song to song. You push up or down to go forward or backwards through the songs you have on the MP3 player. Sound for the MP3 player was good, lacked bass but otherwise was clear. The MP3 player also has an EQ but nothing really to talk about, just some preset settings for Dynamic Bass Booster, Pop, Jazz, Disco, Classical, and Normal. None of them really made a difference in the way the music sounded. I listened to a range of music including Queen, Metallica, Pink Floyd, Beethoven, Creed, Filter, God Smack, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, AC/DC, ZZTop, and the Armitage Soundtrack. I thought the problem may be with the earphones that came with the player. So I had a pair of Sony earphones around and tried them. The bass did pick up then so I think it was an earphone problem.

As for getting songs onto the MP3 player it could not have been easier. Just drag and drop what song you want from your computer to the flash drive and that is it. No software is needed under Windows XP but they do supply drivers for Windows 98.

The voice recorder worked just as well as the MP3 and flash drive. With a press of a button you can record up to 3 hours on it. The voice recorder sounded good but it would have been nice to hear the voice recording without the earphones. This would have added to the overall size of the unit which is a minor thing.

The overall feel and look of the Mushkin MP3 player / USB Flash Drive / Voice Recorder is nice but it’s plastic just like everything else these days. The cover for the USB plug is made of a molded piece of plastic and it comes off very easy; for my taste way too easy. I can see loosing the end cap by it just falling off and you not knowing it or breaking very easily after some use. The battery is also in a plastic compartment that has plastic hooks on it to lock it down. I had a really hard time getting the battery in because I was afraid of breaking the little hooks and then the battery would just be hanging out there. It would have been nice to have AA or AAA batteries that you could have changed if you were away from your computer. The only way you can recharge the battery is to plug it into a USB port. Not everyone has access to a PC or carries a laptop with them everywhere they go.

Final Verdict

Mushkin’s MP3 player / USB Flash Drive / Voice Recorder worked well and did a fine job for all it was made to do. The battery, USB plug cover and it only being USB 1.1 is a small drawback, but the Mushkin MP3 player / USB Flash Drive / Voice Recorder performed well with the right earphones. So, if you are looking for an all-in-one unit the Mushkin MP3 player / USB Flash Drive / Voice Recorder may be for you.

Score

6.0 out of 10

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Related Information

Posted by: z36
Date: February 9, 2005
Manufacturer: Mushkin
Genre: Peripheral
System Reviewed: PSP

Categories: PC Reviews, PC, Reviews

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