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Unsuitable MP3 Portable Players

jazPiper MV32P ~ ~ ~ NOT Suitable for Audio Books ~ ~ ~

www.elex.co.uk        www.jazpiper.co.uk        www.jazpiper.com.sg

Connection to PC: Some Players come with Parallel (not transparent) cable and some with USB.  The cable is plenty long enough - GOOD
Memory: 32MB built-in and another 64MB could be added on the SmartMedia Card - GOOD
Loudness: Very, very load - VERY GOOD
File Sorting: Sorts OK and works well with the long filenames - GOOD
Size: 66mm x 90 mm x 18mm and weighs 86grams - VERY GOOD
Headphones: In-ear
Buttons:
  • [Pause] - indefinite - GOOD
  • [Hold] - physical lock - VERY GOOD
  • [Bookmark] - none available - BAD
Batteries: 2 x AAA, easily changeable, 9 hours - GOOD
Software: Easy to use - GOOD
Firmware: Not upgradeable - NOT GOOD
In use: Interruptions happen after pressing the "on/off" button, it goes back to the beginning of the first song - VERY VERY BAD
Bit Rate: 16Kbps MP3 frame V2.5 - works fine with the exception of "<A-B> repeat - GOOD

Note: A small BUG - we have tested it with MP3 files 16,24,32 and 48Kbps.  All work fine, but on the screen 16, 24 and 32Kbps are shown as 128Kbps??? - Strange but not significant.


Jukebox 6000  ~ ~ ~ We would love to recommend this impressive looking player, but unfortunately, we CANNOT ~ ~ ~

www.archos.com

Connection to PC: The USB (included standard USB cable is 1M long - could be longer)
Memory: Storage space - 6GB - GOOD
Loudness: Loud enough even with over-ear headphones (providing you plug them in "Ear" and not in "Line Out" by mistake!) - GOOD
File Sorting: Sorting by filenames.  It works OK but only if the file names are NOT longer then 41 characters!!  So, if your file names longer than 41 characters and the chapter indexes are at the end of the file name, then Jukebox 6000 will chop the file-endings together with indexes and mix them up - VERY BAD
Size: 115mm x 82mm x 34mm (4.5" x 2" x 1.3"), weighs 290grams (12 ounces) - looks small, elegant and cool - VERY GOOD
Headphones: Supplied with headphones - "plug-ins" but relatively comfortable "behind the neck" and of reasonable quality - GOOD
Volume Control: Part of the menu - NOT VERY GOOD.  Jukebox does however, remember all the sound settings after pressing "on/off" - GOOD
Buttons:
  • [Hold/Lock] - There is a Hold option in the menu, but we found that it is frequently being released accidentally and the Player being switched off, even if Jukebox is being carried gently in the provided holder.
  • [Bookmark] - None
  • [Pause] - Seems to hold indefinitely (we tested it for up to 240 minutes) - VERY GOOD
Batteries: 4 x AA rechargeable and replaceable batteries.  Built-in charger.  Replacing batteries is possible, but very difficult.  Plastic covers could be (and will be) broken easily.  Not one for a quick change on the train! - NOT GOOD  Playtime on fully charged batteries is 8 hours (according to instructions) - GOOD
Software: V 1.0 (14/3/01), upgradeable from www.archos.com  PC and MAC compatible
Firmware: V 4.53g (14/3/01), upgradeable from www.archos.com - (hopefully they will sort out all the bugs shortly)
In use: Interruptions - After switching Off and On, Jukebox 6000 goes back to the beginning of the first file!! - VERY VERY BAD
Bit Rate: MP3 16Kbps, V 2.5 frames - Jukebox 6000 is recognising them as MP3 files.  All the other features work fine - GOOD

MP3 Man F20 ~ ~ ~ NOT Suitable for Audio Books ~ ~ ~

Connection to PC: Parallel (no pass through)
Formats supported: MP3 Version 1 and 2 only.  Version 2.5 only played if just switched on!
Memory: 32Mb internal, optional 32Mb memory card.  Onboard memory can be used to store any type of file.  Firmware takes about 230K of onboard memory.  Tracks are limited to 32Mb - it will not bridge the internal memory to the memory card.
Batteries: 1 x AA
Sound quality: High bit rates - it sounds pretty good, but maybe not enough base.
Type Source Output Rating (out of 10) Comments
Low CD 16Kb V.2.5 MP3 4 Voice OK, but swimmy
Medium CD 48Kb V1 MP3 Mono ? OK
High CD stereo 128Kb V.1 MP3 JStereo 8 OK
Very high CD stereo 128Kb V.1 MP3 JStereo 8.5 OK
Software: MP3 Man F-20 software is available in two versions, both include the firmware which is downloaded into the player when the internal memory is "formatted".  Version 2.01 - as supplied on CD.  A limited support is available for lower bit rates.  It treats MP3 Version 2.5 as data files!  Version 3.0 is downloadable from the Internet.  It also supports more audio formats.  The MP3 Version 2.5 tracks now download and treat files as audio (not data), but will only play tracks on initial power on!  The software crashes for no apparent reason fairly often.
In use: The case is light and has a rubberised texture, with chrome buttons on top and front of the player.  The control panel is simple and easy to use, but only displays the track number as there is no alphanumeric display.
Bit rate: Low bit rate on version 1 and version 2 tracks.  The MP3 playback on low bit rate works fine with version 1 and 2 frames - Pause / FF / Rewind.  Low bit rate on MP3 version 2.5 frames
Buttons:
  • Play / Pause: only plays when first powered up (V3.01 firmware only).
  • Pause:  Stops playback, but "Play" will not continue on V2.5 tracks.
  • Fast Forward: Skips to the next - Version 1 or 2 MP3 track, ignoring V2.5 tracks.
  • Rewind: as for Fast Forward.
Overall: The player is basic and the build quality is OK.  The sound quality is pretty good.  However, there is no track title display and no bookmark / power off with a pause and continue where you left from facility.  Version 3.01's download software is "buggy". 

 


Sony MS-Walkman MW-MS7 (Not Strictly a MP3 Player) ~ NOT Suitable for Audio Books ~

Connection to PC: USB adapter cable which is too short - it barely reaches from the back of the PC (where the USB ports normally are) to the front.
Formats supported: ATRAC3 (ATRAC3 is the optimised version of the algorithm used to compress audio files for Sony Mini-Discs and included copy protection) supports 3 compression rates: 132 Kbps, 105Kbps and 66Kbps.
Memory: Removable Sony "MagicGate" memory stick 64Mb - no onboard memory.

64MB would contain at 66KBPS (64* 1024* 1024*) divide 66,000/8 seconds = 8,134 seconds.  8,134/60 = 135 minutes of audio - just under 2 x CD's worth.  WAV files: linear PCM 16bit, mono/stereo, 32/44.1/48kHz.  MP3 files: 16bit (always), mono/stereo, 32/44.1/48kHz.

Buttons:
  • Volume +/- 
  • Menu
  • Display
  • Hold slide (to stop buttons being knocked) - this is fiddly to push in/up/down to control the selection and play
Batteries: Internal rechargeable lithium-ion battery.  battery life is very good.
Sound quality: The best so far as it uses mini-disc type compression.  No low bit rate audio.
Type Source Output Rating (out of 10) Comments
Low CD 0 Will not accept low bit rate sources
Medium 48Kbps MP3 V1 66Kb ATRAC3 7 Not much worse than source
Medium CD 66Kb ATRAC3 8 Base a bit harsh / open
High CD stereo 105Kbps ATRAC3 9 Almost as good as a CD
Very high CD stereo 132Kb ATRAC3 9.5 Can't tell the difference
Software: Very good software, does everything from CD extraction and WAV/MP3 conversion.  Some things are hidden, like bit rates.  Intuitive, apart from remembering to press the "check-out" icon to download the tracks chosen.  Help is good.  Source audio is limited to medium and high quality sources - see formats above.
In use: This player is half the size of the Rio 555 (narrower).  It has a very high quality feel, but probably has too many gizmos - both software and additional hardware bits.  The memory stick is ejected by a slide lever.  The battery is an internal lithium-ion rechargeable, but to charge it, the MS-Walkman must first be plugged into the USB / charge adapter, then plugged into a power adapter into the wall socket.  Judging by the weight of the USB / charger adapter, it only contains connectors and AudioBooksForFree.com don't see why the connector and recharger could not have been built into the Walkman itself, especially as being grey and smaller than a box of matches, it could easily be lost!  

The USB downloads fast, but MP3 files must be converted to ATRAC3 format, which can take some time on slower PLCs - it also takes up more disk space as they are archived.  

Software installation needs a software key to be typed in.

Format: The most compressed (lowest quality) MP3 format files this player will accept is MP3 mono 48Kbps, 3,200 Hz.  This is 3 times the size of 16Kbps Version 1 or 2,(NOT 2.5 as this is used only for less than 24Kpbs), but is stored on the MS-Walkman as a 66Kbps ATRAC3 track (25% bigger than 48Kbps MP3) and sounds slightly worse than the source due to double "lossy" compression.
Overall:

This player is not really suitable for low bit rate MP3 files, it is really designed for listening to music.  To play a low bit rate MP3 file, it would only be possible if a software utility could decode the low bit rate MP3 and then re-sample and save it to a higher bandwidth (32kHz+) wave file.  Also, because the lowest storage rate is 65Kbps, you could only get one quarter of the voice audio on a 64Mb memory stick.  The control system is not as good as the Rio500.  The screen display is confusing - difficult to change and find another track.  The buttons are fiddly - all around the side - Play / Stop / FF / Rewind would be better on the front panel.  Propriety memory card system.  Too many bits in the package.  The sound quality is as good as the Mini-Disc (CD quality, or very near) and the battery life is good.  Overall, it looks cool - Sony quality, with the rainbow effect front panel and the shape fits easily in the hand or pocket.

We can whole heartedly recommend you view the new ARCHOS HDD-MP3 Portable Player which we have on SPECIAL OFFER for US$500 and includes our best audiobooks pre-loaded.