January 02, 2006

The MobiBLU

I went shopping with my Christmas money (what was left of it) - and came out of Walmart holding the 1GB MobiBLU MP3 player. This little player has an FM radio, a built-in microphone, 1GB (922 MB usable) of memory, SRS/WOW/EQ settings, a clock, and it can record (at settable bitrate/sensitivity) off the microphone or the FM radio. It also has an OLED screen and is only 1 inch cubed!!

That's right - it has 7 buttons (8 if you count the reset pin), 1 input jack, a necklace clip and an OLED screen on 5 of it's 6 square inch sides. This thing is SMALL! It came with necklace earphones, a charger, some software to update the BIOS (when they release new ones [or when someone decides to load Linux on it?]).

I charged it up with music from my collection, (it takes protected WMAs [evil] and MP3s) and took it out to play. It has a volume setting that goes up to 30. With it set to its highest level, I could hear it on top of a club band at an oldies club on New Years Eve, although it didn't drown them out (doh). At level 16, it sounds loud enough for my ears in a roughly noiseless environment. At level 20, I can't hear my wife calling me from the next room (bonus!).

You can play in repeat 1/repeat all/random/random all modes, and you can browse for songs (although the song names obviously have to scroll on the screen, which displays 3x5 from a text perspective. They could have cut out the graphical part of the tree display to give you up to 8 characters. Maybe they will in a future upgrade. I found only one problem with the player so far, and that is the number of folders it will actually read from the player. Even though I stored 100 folders of stuff on it, only the first 20 or so [I didn't count] deep showed the file contents when I was playing the music. Even on random mode, it didn't pick up those files.

All in all, it's a good value, but you need to know that it's not compatible with any of the To Go services like Yahoo or Napster. You can buy protected WMA's from Walmart (where I got the player) and it comes with 5 free songs. On top of that, you will need MP3 files, so you'll have to rip your own content or play mostly independent music that can be found on the 'net.

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