capsule review

Haier Sport Video MP3 Player Is a Great Workout Companion

At a Glance
  • Haier HHS1A-2G Sport Video MP3 Player

    TechHive Rating

    The Haier Sport Video Player is good for the gym, but you won't want to watch videos on its tiny screen.

The Haier Sport Video HHS1A-2G MP3 Player ($50 as of November 10, 2009) is a smooth, water-resistant MP3 player with a 2GB capacity and some nifty features for workoutaholics. The player itself is lightweight and easy to work out with, and sports some cool features (such as a pedometer and video playback), even if some, such as video playback on a one-inch screen, seem a bit pointless and gratuitous.

The HHS1A-2G looks like a soft black-and-aqua pebble. It's also slick like a pebble--and potentially slippery when the going gets sweaty, so the accompanying armband is a real plus. The player's dimensions are about 2 inches high by 1 inch wide, and it has a 1-inch, 128-by-64-pixel OLED screen. The controls, which are fairly intuitive, include a play/stop button; a fast-forward, rewind, and volume control on the main navigational wheel; a menu/power button on the top; and start/stop and reset buttons on the sides (for the stopwatch feature). The USB and headphone jacks are located at the bottom, which I found a bit annoying, but forgivable, when I exercised with it.

Though I had no problem navigating the menu, the smooth buttons were sometimes a bit hard to press, especially during a workout. One cool feature is the screen's "flip" option, which lets you see the menus right-side-up when you're looking down at the player from above (while it's attached to your arm, for example). Unfortunately, the screen is so small that I looking at it strained my eyes, especially when the player sat high up on my bicep.

Audio sounded very good through the included in-ear headphones, which also did a fine job of canceling outside noise (they were so effective, in fact, that I almost got hit by a car on the streets of San Francisco). The earphones come with three different-sized earbuds, and feature over-the-ear loops (which tended to fall off my ears). When I listened through even higher-quality earphones (Bose noise-canceling headphones) the sound quality was better yet. You can add songs can by dragging and dropping them in Windows Explorer, and you can alter the particulars of a song entry (artist, album, and so on) in the properties section of the MP3 file. Also, you can use Windows Media Player to synchronize the player; among the supported file formats are MP3, WMV, and WAV. The player includes an option to create an on-the-go playlist by adding songs to a favorites list.

The player comes with a free version of ArcSoft Media Converter 3, an app that was a bit of a hassle to work with. I could get it to convert files from MPEG to MJPEG only (it's not compatible with Xvid or DivX codecs), and even then converting a 30MB file took 25 minutes. On a positive note, after converting the file, the program automatically uploads it to your player.

Video playback was pretty good, considering. Britney Spears's "Womanizer" played back perfectly--smooth, no skips, and with good sound quality--but the tininess of the screen undercuts the overall experience. Trying to concentrate on Britney's hair flips on such a tiny screen began to give me a headache after a minute or so, and I can't see the point of video playback in a compact sport-oriented player, anyway.

The HHS1A-2G's "sport" features--which include a stopwatch, a pedometer, and a BMI calculator--worked reasonably well. The device is water-resistant (though not waterproof), and it didn't miss a beat as I sat by the pool and let people splash me. It's also extremely lightweight and comfortable to wear with the arm band during a workout.

The package from Haier includes a durable armband, sporty in-ear headphones, a USB 2.0 cable, media-converting software, and 35 free song downloads (with a free 14-day trial subscription to eMusic). Haier says that the 2GB player can store up to 500 songs--the equivalent of 15 hours of audio playback.

The pedometer and stopwatch are pretty cool, and the audio quality is great--but the video and picture features are superfluous on a player with a 1-inch screen. Though the radio feature worked well, it too was hardly essential. Call me crazy, but I want a fairly simple player when I work out. I don't want to have to worry about a bunch of extra features that will only slow me down. I also found the unfriendly included software and the Windows machine requirement boo-worthy. Bottom line: This is a decent player for working out with, but having so many features in such a tiny device seems excessive.

This story, "Haier Sport Video MP3 Player Is a Great Workout Companion" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    The Haier Sport Video Player is good for the gym, but you won't want to watch videos on its tiny screen.

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