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Mushkin MP3/WMA/Voice Recorder V2 128MB Mushkin MP3/WMA/Voice Recorder V2 128MB: Whether it's listening to MP3s or recording top secret conversations, Mushkin's player can handle both.
Date: November 26, 2004
Manufacturer:
Written By:
Price:

MP3 players and their popularity continue to grow and so does the market for such players. You can now choose from a plethora of different devices ranging from solid state flash drive units that will hold a few megabytes and provide you with a couple of hours of music to players that can hold gigs of tracks and hours upon hours of sound. The unit we have today fits into the former category and also has the added benefits of WMA playback, Voice recording and something not so common, a rechargeable Li-ON battery. This is the second MP3 player marketed by and aims to improve on the first as well as provide new features.

Specifications
Size 3.8" x 1" x 0.6"
(97mm x 28mm x 17mm)
Headphone Jack: 1/8" (3.5mm)
Frequency Range: 20Hz-20KHz
Battery: Lithium-ION 500mA 3.7V
Lasts 10 hours at full charge
LED Indicators: Power, Charging, Fully Charged Play, Pause, Reading/Writing
Erase Cycles: 1,000,000
Data Retention: 10+ years
Media Transfer Rate: Read - 800KBps (6400Kbps)
Write - 600KBps (4800Kbps)
Interface Transfer Rate: 12Mb/sec.
Warranty 1 Year

The Mushkin MP3/WMA/Voice Recorder V2 128MB

The Box for the Mushkin MP3/WMA/Voice Recorder V2 128MB is a shiny silver and shows a photographic representation of the unit on the front. Inside everything is nicely laid out in this transparent plastic presentation, with the extras for the player underneath. Mushkin includes a Win98 Driver CD, carry strap, USB Extension Cable and a set of earphones. The strap is designed as a quick release item with one squeeze either side releasing the catch.

The player itself is in the top half of the interior packaging and arrives in a dismantled state, which is to say the lid and battery are not installed. You can easily see the silver paint and chrome effect trim at this point. You'll also notice one of the highlights of this particular player; a rechargeable Li-ON battery. Yes, you install the battery, and plug the player into a USB port to charge the unit much as you would use a mobile phone and its charger.

On the main unit's facia, just above the LCD are the words Multi MP3 Player in a slight holographic effect. The cap for the USB plug is designed to fit on both ends of the player, so while the unit is in use you can cover the USB plug. Once the player is plugged into a USB port however, the cap can be placed on the opposite end for safe keeping.

The top of the player sports 3 buttons and the headphone jack, with the buttons controlling the mode menu and volume up and down. Below is a single button, the A-B repeat button which also sets the HOLD status for the unit and also starts voice recording.

On the end is the switch controller, which inputs fast forward/next track, play/pause/stop and reverse/previous track commands to the unit, and also is used to navigate the various menu options.

Once everything was put together and I left the unit charging over night, I preceded to load a few songs and have a play.

The first thing I noticed when I powered up the unit was that the graphic display is off center, which just gives an impression of low quality that isn't really warranted if this issue is ignored. One thing I do like about the display is the fact that ID3 tag information is displayed providing a 'ticker tape' style display of the track name that slowly moves front to back. You also get plenty of information from the display in regards to volume, music format, mode, EQ setting, Battery life and total amount of tracks on the player.

Player usage isn't instantly intuitive but it is close, and the main control functions take mere seconds to learn. I would have liked to have seen a PLAY triangle next to the STOP square on the switch controller markings as without looking at the manual I was looking for a PLAY/PAUSE button, which it so happens is the switch controller. Obviously now that I know it is a non-issue, but a slight change in the markings would make it simpler to be up and running quickly.

Another thing that reduced the overall quick ease of use was the fact that to turn off the player you need to press and hold the switch controller in, but this will only work when you are not playing a song; So you need to press the controller once to pause playing a song, again to stop the song, and then press and hold for 3 seconds to turn the unit off. It might seem petty and picky but it's the little things like this that dictate how intuitive a player is and quirks like these can detract from the units instant use appeal. This doesn't negate the fact however that once you know what you’re doing, everything becomes very quick in use.

There are plenty of functions and options in the mode menus, from EQ settings, to contrast settings for the display, formatting of the flash memory or deletion of songs ... options you would expect and want to see. You have options for dictating the backlight display length in seconds and idle time before powering off, both options designed for you to be able to dictate battery saving features.

Earphones; Their is no markings of any kind on them so no idea who manufactures them, but if Mushkin don't make them themselves as I suspect, then Mushkin should think about getting the earphones replaced by a different brand. You can't tell which is left or right, which while not a big issue to most will be annoying to some. My advice would be to factor in the cost of a decent pair to the overall price if clarity and quality of music sound is high on your list of wants from an MP3 player of this kind, although you'll never get stunning sound from earbud style earphones anyway. The player itself outputs the sound ok, and the included headphones can be misleading in this respect.

The above appears to paint a slightly negative picture of the player, but this isn't truly the case. Yes, it has issues but each of those issues could be considered relatively minor by most, and are mentioned for the sake of a complete review. However the off center display is a glaring mistake and one I would hope is limited to my sample only.

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