So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
- Slim size, FM tuner, FM and voice recording, small and lightweight, incorporates a display, good FM reception
- Complicated interface, not very loud, slow transfer speeds
A simple Apple iPod Shuffle alternative, including a screen, FM tuner and recording capabilities.
Price$ 199.00 (AUD)
Recently, we here at the GoodGearGuide have seen a surge in portable media players in the sub 50 gram range, sporting both a screen and compact design, as rival manufacturers attempt to counter Apple's dominance of the market. Sanyo has now entered the foray releasing two flash based MP3 players, the larger and cheaper DMPM360B (256 MB) and tiny sized DMPM600B (512MB). We reviewed the DMPM600B which left us with mixed feelings. While we were blown away by its functionality and size, we were left disappointed with its complicated interface, low file transfer speed and cheap feeling construction.
Looking at the DMPM600B, the first image that came to our heads was the old mini-disc inline remote controls. This MP3 player is tiny, measuring 87 x 15.6 x 15.6 mm, and weighs an amazingly small 23 grams. Unobtrusive to the pocket, we could see the size of this player to be an attractive feature for many users. The controls on the player are limited to play, next track, previous track, volume up and down and mode. This limited control set became frustrating, as accessing the different features meant scrolling through many hidden menu systems. An example of this is moving between different artist folders. To do this, you have to scroll to the last track, which reveals the option to go to the parent directory. This can become very tedious and annoying, especially when you are in a rush to record a track off the radio, only to realize that by the time you access the recording feature, you may have missed half of it.
The display is a welcome addition, capable of displaying scrolling ID3 tags and folder structures and there is also a fair amount of customisation available through the menu system. This includes changing the display colour, equalization settings (jazz, rock, pop, bass boost) and recording quality (Hi/Low quality). We found the recording feature to be very valuable, enabling us to record both FM and voice through the internal microphone.
Even though FM recording is not advertised on Sanyo's specifications, this device is capable of producing very clear sounding MP3 recordings (128kbps 44Khz in Hi-quality). Of course, the recording quality of the radio depends on the reception, and thankfully, the DMPM600B was able pick up most stations loud and clear. Voice is recorded through the internal microphone, which is located next to the headphone jack. This can be problematic, as any shuffling of your earphone cable comes through on the recording, producing a noise similar to that of crumpling paper. The microphone range is quite average, and is probably not suitable for recording lectures as the source of sound must be within 5 metres for a decent result. In all, the recording feature is very helpful, and with the 512 MB of internal space, users are looking at around 8.5 hours of high quality recording in total.
Unlike Apple's Ipod Shuffle or Sony's NW-E405, the DMPM600B acts as a removable storage disk, allowing users to plug into any computer and copy music using any file explorer. This is the simplest method of copying music to the device, although Sanyo do include music library management software called MusicFileMaster, which is capable of creating playlists and organizing files to be copied on to the player. Users can also use the player as a removable disk to copy any type of file, as long as they remember to take the USB cable with them. The MP3 player is only capable of USB 1.1 transfers limiting transfer speeds to 12Mbps, a snail paced speed compared to USB2 devices, and becomes very arduous when trying to copy hundreds of megabytes of files at a time. While the USB transfer is a useful feature, we are more partial to devices that don't require USB cables, such as the Toplux M260.
We found this player capable of producing sound quality similar to that of many other well known brands. As usual, we recommend users buy a pair decent headphones to use with the DMPM600B. There was a huge leap in quality when we used a pair of high end earphones rather than the included white buds. The player isn't capable of extremely loud playback, which although might be a bonus for the general health of consumers, is not what our generation of (partially deaf) portable music enthusiasts will be happy to hear.
To sum it up, we found Sanyo's DMPM600B very comfortable to take with us wherever we went, often forgetting it was in our pocket. It does have an annoying user interface, and even after a few weeks of use we still sometimes feel perplexed when navigating around the device. It is slow in transferring files, which deems it unsuitable for users who intend on changing their music collection often.
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