Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
MobiBlu Cube 2
- Controls are awkward, Video screen is only 1cms wide, Sound quality a little lacking
If size is your primary concern, the Cube 2 may suit you, but if not there are better alternatives.
Price$ 199.00 (AUD)
As one of the smallest MP3 players on the market, the mobiBLU Cube 2 is an interesting device. On one hand, it certainly is small enough to attract attention, but on the other it suffers in some areas as a result of its size. Its sound quality is just mediocre, its controls are awkward and its video playback, while a nice addition, is useless on such a small screen.
Measuring just 24mm x 24mm x 24mm and weighing 18g, the Cube 2 certainly is tiny. In fact there were several instances during testing where it just went missing, only to turn up under a CD case or a bit of paper. We found it a little impractical at times, but if you want an unobtrusive portable music player, then this definitely fits the bill.
It is constructed of solid black plastic with a dull silver panel on the back and feels quite sturdy. The controls are seated to the left and right on either side of the screen, but their positioning makes them rather hard to access and we had some issues with their responsiveness. They are made from simple grey rubber and weren't very tactile, often requiring multiple presses to get a response. We also found the interface a little clunky, with different menus accessed by holding down buttons for different periods of time, but we did become a little more adept with it after a few hours of use.
The Cube 2 has most of the usual media player functions, including voice recording, radio, photo display and video playback, however in almost all of these cases there were issues with its performance. When we tried to record ourselves talking, every button press or slight movement of the unit produced a very audible click that virtually ruined our recorded samples. The 2.5cm square unit has a screen that is a mere 1cm x 1cm x 1cm, making both the photo and video players extremely limited. We tried to watch several videos on the screen, but just couldn't enjoy them. Everything was ridiculously small and lacked any sort of detail, making the device virtually useless as anything more than a music player. Video cannot be directly copied across either; it must be converted to MJPEG. The software to do this is included in the package, and the process was quite simple and efficient.
Its music format support is a little better, with the Cube 2 being able to play MP3 and WMA files, as well as DRM protected WMAs. It acts as a mass storage device, meaning you can just open it and drag and drop files onto the device.
In our audio tests the Cube 2 performed solidly, but not amazingly. It offers good sound quality for such a small device, but it does sound a little lifeless at times, and doesn't quite produce the volume some other players do. The included headphones were surprisingly quite engaging, with a nice balance of highs and lows and reasonable separation. However their design leaves a lot to be desired. They come in a ring configuration that is designed to loop over the neck. The player then plugs in and hangs down your chest. This is fine if that's the way you want to wear it, but if, like us, you'd prefer to pocket your player and not wear it like an elaborate piece of technological jewelry, then you're out of luck. Thankfully the Cube 2 has a standard 3.5mm jack, so you can easily connect third party headphones, thus rectifying the problem.
This device comes with a reasonable number of sound manipulation options, including seven pre-set equalizer configurations (rock, pop, classical etc.), shuffle play and SRS bass boost. As with most small flash based players however there is no playlist support, and you can't sort by any sort of category (artist, genre etc), making navigation a little frustrating.
Overall, the Cube 2 is an interesting device. If you really need an incredibly small MP3 player, then it may fit the bill, but issues with the interface and sound quality mean unless that is your primary concern there are better purchases elsewhere.
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