- Reasonable sound, good quality headphones, clear voice recording, simple Mp4 transcoding software.
- Average video playback, some illogical design elements, cumbersome documentation.
The Voxson MR-200 has a slew of features, all of which are good in theory, but the execution lends itself to ample mediocrity, excluding it as a “must have” contender.
Price$ 249.00 (AUD)
The 1GB Voxson MR-200 is the latest in an ever growing line of miniature multimedia devices incorporating audio, video, radio and voice recording. The most prominent feature of the unit is the tiny 0.96" OLED screen used for both menu navigation and video playback. The various playback modes on the MR-200 include Video (Mp4), audio (Mp3, WMA), FM Radio and it also ships with a questionable JPEG viewer. Voice recording is provided via a built in microphone and a line-in record mode, made possible by a provided cable.
Transferring files to the MR-200 is simple, as it is recognized in Windows XP as a mass storage device. Drag and drop files into the various format folders (music, video etc) and away you go, with the 1GB capacity allowing storage of around 200 songs. Video storage will depend on how long the file is but the compression of the Mp4 files creates easily manageable sizes.
The MR-200 is very small (about the size of a Zippo lighter) but it sacrifices practicality for miniaturisation. The screen size is ridiculously tiny for video playback and JPEG viewing and while the menus look great in full colour, the quality of the OLED simply doesn't allow a high enough resolution. We found that videos tend to pixelate and suffer from a severe lattice effect while JPEGs are flooded with too much brightness, drowning the detail. Add to this the severe eye strain that needs to be endured to watch anything and the video functionality becomes more of a gimmick than a serious feature.
Even though the mp4 video playback mode doesn't live up to its potential, the included transcoding software posed no problems for us, with fast video conversion from avi, mpeg, wmv and asf to the supported Mp4 format. The only drawback to this, is the fact that the codecs required to do so are not included on the installation disc and need to be downloaded from a third party website.
The buttons on the Voxson MR-200 are relatively easy to use, the only exception being the flimsy shuttle control, which doubles as the on/off button. Once turned on, the M-200 starts in video playback mode, but in order to play music or use any of the other functions, you need to change playback modes using the rather counter-intuitive menu system. Trying to change playback modes requires holding down the "record" button for a second or two which brings up a list of the various playback options. Once you have done so, it's easy enough to change over to a different mode but an extra button on the device for mode change would have been a much more logical design choice.
The sound quality of the M-200 is reasonable but could be better. Even though it is pumping out sound at an impressive 10mW, there is a slight muting of the lower bass tones and some truncation of the upper treble register. There are also instances of distortion during violent changes in pitch but the included headphones do the player justice and have a nice rounded sound to them as well as a cool design.
Our tests found that the in-built microphone does a good job of picking up voice with quite reasonable clarity, although it does tend to pick up ambient noise as well. Even in those cases, the voice recording isn't overpowered and is easily understandable. Line-in recording also performs well, but the FM Radio is a little hit and miss. Outdoors, it does a good job of finding stations along the band but indoors, it has serious trouble recognizing stations when scan searching.
The documentation for this MR-200 is also frustrating as it needs a Java Virtual Machine installation to use , has a tedious load time and there is no hard copy of the manual included in the box. Even once you have the manual running, it isn't particularly easy to follow and takes a long time to run through. Ideally, the user should be able to pick up a device like this and use it without reading a manual, but the menu layout dictates a need for consultation..
The MR-200 is powered by a USB trickled-charged Lithium Polymer battery which takes about 40 minutes to an hour for a full charge and lasts for approximately 10 hours.
The Voxson M-200 strives to be unique by offering a bevy of features but shoots itself in the foot in the process. The draw point should have been the mp4 playback but it's just not practical in a player of this size. Apart from some low resolution video clips of your favourite songs, there isn't much else you would want to watch on this screen, let alone go out of your way to transcode.
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