Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Laser 512MA9BL Mp3 Player
- Easy to use, Above average sound, Mass storage device
- Poor design, AAA battery powered, Poor buttons, Unresponsive controls
The 512MA9BL is not a great Mp3 player by any means but compared to its competitors it is both cheap and above average in performance.
Price$ 69.00 (AUD)
Cheap and nasty don't always have to go hand in hand. Sometimes, a product can just be cheap. The Laser 512MA9BL MP3 Player is your typical poorly designed and poorly implemented Flash memory Mp3 Player but the sound quality isn't too bad and the headphones it comes with do the job nicely.
There are so many of these Mp3 players plaguing the internet and a quick search on ebay under "Mp3 player" will spew forth hundreds of near-identical models eager to be imported from the far reaches of Asia. The Laser is one such product, but it doesn't try too hard to hide the fact.
The build quality isn't terribly good with cheap plastic buttons that look ready to fall off at any moment. The play button has the look and feel of those clickers you used to get out of the Bertie Beetle showbag complete with the annoying clicking sound (though not as loud).
On one side of the unit there are two buttons with V+ and V- which are used for volume control. The other side has a hold button and a scroll wheel which proudly proclaims itself as "mode". This is the primary button used in operating the unit and feels terribly fragile. Scrolling through options is performed with a left or right toggle of "mode" and pressing this button selects the option. The problem with this system is that it is inconsistent and doesn't always work well. The fact that there is no discernable contact point when pressing this button means that you are never sure if you have pressed it correctly, or pushed it in far enough to be registered as a selection.
The interface is fairly easy to understand once you work out how to interact with it. We were impressed by the lighting scheme of the unit whereby the backlight changes colours as you move between modes. At first we thought there were different colours for each mode but we quickly came to realise that the colours were merely scrolling and therefore completely random.
The Laser Mp3 Player actually does a little more than just play Mp3s. It can also play back WMA and WAV files and can record voice into WAV format. It can also record from the radio via the built in FM tuner.
We were quite impressed with the performance of the music player and found the sound quality to be above average when compared to other flash players at this price point. The bass was a little flat and the treble tended to sound a little tinny but compared to other similar players the sound quality was rather exceptional. The FM tuner did a good job of picking up stations but also dropped reception or introduced white noise with spatial movement. This extended to using the device in your pocket, an act which causes a mixed bag of reception results.
The end of the Laser can be removed to reveal a male USB connector. Windows XP recognised this player as an external flash drive and files need only be dropped into the root directory so that they can be played. Flash players are usually limited in their ability to read folder structures and the Laser is no exception. Files placed in folders were not found by the unit. All files must be placed into the root directory with no control over the order in which they are played. Once you drop files into it they are played in whatever order the player deems fit.
The 512MA9BL is powered by one AAA battery which limits how effective it can be. While a rechargeable battery is not included, you could always use a set of rechargeable batteries if you so desired. Other flash players tend to have trickle-charged Lithium-Ion batteries, which makes sense. We felt having only a AAA sized battery to power this device was inadequate.
This is not a great Mp3 player by any means but compared to its competitors it is both cheap and above average in performance. This style of Mp3 player is great for people on a budget who can't afford the iPods of this world and are happy to be restricted by the small storage sizes offered by flash drives. If this sounds like you, then give the Laser 512MA9BL some consideration. Just make sure you keep your receipt.
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