So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Linophir International SYM-620
- Fast USB 2.0 connection, extensive feature set
- Inferior design, poor design, videos have to be in MTV format
The SYM-620 will appeal to users after a budget MP3 player that also plays MP4 videos. If you prize design, ease of use and quality, then this isn't the product for you.
Price$ 195.00 (AUD)
The Linophir SYM-620 MP4 player has just two things going for it - its feature set, which is extensive, and its price, which is relatively low compared to its rivals. While this player offers users a broad range of multimedia functions, it is let down by a poorly implemented interface and inferior design.
The SYM-620 is technically a portable multimedia player, in that it allows users to play music, watch videos, listen to the FM radio, record voice, view pictures and even store phone numbers or view text files. However not all of these functions are particularly practical or enjoyable on a screen size of only 1.5 inches, and not all are implemented in a user friendly way.
The SYM-620 certainly wins points for portability, measuring just 65 x 40 x 15mm and weighing only 34g, meaning it can be easily slipped into a pocket. On the front of the unit below the screen is a 4 way joystick, which controls both the track navigation (left to right) and the volume (up or down). On the right hand side are the play button, record button and power switch, while the headphone jack and USB port are on the left. In operating the device, we found having the play button on the side away from the navigation controls was a tad annoying, as it also used frequently to select menu options.
The buttons on this unit are not of a particularly good quality, with he power button not even sitting correctly in its socket on our test unit and the USB connection covered by a rubber plug which couldn't be fitted back in easily. The rather cheap looking silver case also detracted from the player's looks and this does not seem to be a durable or sturdy device by any means.
Essentially, the SYM-620 is designed for use as an MP3 player and perhaps for watching the occasional video clip, if so inclined. The Music mode offers both basic equaliser functions as well as repeat modes but we found the sound quality was terrible using the supplied headphones. Once we plugged in our own Sennheiser headphones, the quality improved markedly, and we recommend getting rid of the included headphones at the earliest possible opportunity.
The 65k colour OLED screen performed surprisingly well in displaying our test videos, but with a screen this size, viewing detail was hard to discern. The catch with playing videos is that all files must first be converted to MTV or AMV format on a PC using the supplied conversion software. While this software converts most commonly used video formats (wmv, rm, asf, mpeg, mov and asf), it does mean an extra step for users in having to convert every video file before it can be viewed on the player.
The SYM-620 also offers voice recording, allowing users to record in either WAV or ACT formats, with an FM radio rounding out the extensive feature set.
While we liked the numerous functions offered on this unit, we found the software interface left a lot to be desired. Turning the device on displays a system menu, where it is simply a matter of using the joystick to navigate through the various options and selecting them. However the controls were not always responsive when pressed and the layout of the system options was somewhat confusing. We were especially disappointed with the look and feel of the software in general, which does not compare witht the polished proprietary applications we have seen from other vendors.
On the plus side, the SYM-620 is a plug and play USB device, meaning it will be recognized by any PC as soon as it is plugged in. (Drivers are required for Windows 98 only). The unit uses a fast USB 2.0 connection to transfer data and the Li Polymer battery is charged using the supplied USB cable.
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