capsule review

Dell DJ Ditty

At a Glance
  • Dell DJ Ditty

    TechHive Rating

Dell DJ Ditty
Photograph: Chris Manners

The little silver-and-black stick weighs less than 2 ounces and is the size of a Bic lighter. It comes with ear buds and a lanyard for hanging around your neck. The unit packs 512MB of flash memory and looks like--and doubles as--a USB thumb drive. Just plug it into an open USB port, and you can drag tracks manually onto the player or you can use the bundled version of Yahoo Musicmatch Jukebox. Musicmatch recognized the Ditty immediately and let me sync music to it hassle-free. I got a little sick of its sales pitches for Musicmatch Jukebox Plus, though.

The DJ Ditty plays MP3, WAV, and WMA music files, as well as Audible-formatted audio books. It supports PlaysForSure music subscriptions such as Napster and Musicmatch, along with Rhapsody and Yahoo Musicmatch. It includes an FM radio with room for ten preset stations.

In my hands-on evaluation, I listened to several music tracks, whose quality sounded good. In our audio-quality tests, the DJ Ditty performed well overall, earning a score of Very Good. Its best showing was its low distortion--the DJ Ditty produced as little distortion as the much more expensive Creative Zen Nano Plus. However, the tests did reveal a couple of shortcomings. For one, the Ditty did the worst job among flash players of keeping the left and right audio channels distinct; this blending, called cross talk, results in a narrower stereo field. Also, the DJ Ditty reproduced a broad range of frequencies less accurately than the other players. All this for $90, but there's a catch: The DJ Ditty is not that easy to use anywhere that you'd want to use a player this portable. The inch-long monochrome display holds just enough information to see what FM station or music track you're playing, but navigating through settings and manually finding tracks is pretty frustrating. You use a combination of the power button and a toggle switch, which is called the volume/scroll/select dial (it's not a dial). All the settings are there, but getting to them is unintuitive. Luckily the DJ Ditty comes with a 92-page printed manual (also offered in PDF format) that tells you where everything is. But who likes to read manuals?

If you're looking for a cheap, lightweight player to take to the gym, this is a good option so long as you don't want to adjust settings or find specific songs while on the treadmill. That combination of activities sounds like a recipe for a broken leg.

Narasu Rebbapragada

This story, "Dell DJ Ditty" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    Inexpensive, low-capacity player has an FM tuner, but doesn't record broadcasts or have a built-in microphone.

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