First Look: Rave-MP's Flashy New MP3 Player
At a Glance
Clearly designed for on-the-go music lovers, Rave-MP's AMP 128 is both small and remarkably light. The pager-size crimson device weighs a mere 1.8 ounces, which makes it all the more amazing that inside there's 120MB of available flash storage, an FM receiver, a voice and FM recorder, a slot for adding storage via SD or MMC card, and a AAA battery.
You get all of that plus a USB cable, a pair of hook-on-ear headphones, a belt clip, and an armband--and it'll cost you only $99 (a 256MB version sells for $129). Due in stores September 7, the AMP sounds like a pretty good deal, and overall it is.
Rave-MP includes Windows Media Player 9 for file transfers, but since the device also shows up as a drive when you plug it in, I dragged and dropped files to my preproduction unit this way. Transfers seemed a bit slow for a USB 2.0 device, but with a storage capacity this small it's not much of an issue. The unit supports MP3 and WMA-encoded tunes.
Since flash players are ideal for use during exercise (no moving parts), I brought the AMP along on several runs--and found myself enjoying its company. It's so light I quickly adjusted to having it strapped to my arm. The earphones proved uncomfortable, though.
The unit offers all the other features you'd expect from a flash MP3 player. You can choose from one of four preset equalizers (Rock, Jazz, Classical, or Pop) or tweak the 5-band equalizer to your own taste, and there are the standard shuffle and repeat settings. There are no playlist options here, but on a player with this capacity, the entire collection is pretty much your playlist. I squeezed 21 MP3 songs onto the device, each encoded at 192 kbps (Rave-MP claims the device can hold up to 4 hours of WMA tunes encoded at 64 kbps). The unit managed an impressive 17 hours and 13 minute of run time on a single Duracell battery.
So what's not to like? A few things: For one, the unit and its buttons feel a bit flimsy in your hand, and I couldn't always get the directional control to register my "up" clicks. The unit takes far too long to start up--upward of 24 seconds from the time you hit the power button--and navigation is often sluggish. The reverse-contrast screen can be hard to see in bright sunlight, even with the backlight. Sound was good, but a bit more volume would be nice.
These are genuine annoyances, but they're the same ones you'd likely encounter with most inexpensive flash players. Overall, though, I enjoyed using the AMP 128. And for less than a hundred bucks, you won't mind sweating all over it.
Rave-MP AMP 128
An inexpensive flash player that sometimes feels it, but does the job just the same.
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