|The CRYPT Mag|
Well, Christmas time is over for another year……..and , I bet, we all spent more than we had intended to.
This year, I decided to get the wife something slightly different. My wife is a bit of a technophobe, so it’s usually something non-electronic for her. However, due to her deciding to go back to college, I thought I’d have another go at persuading her not all technology was bad.
I reckoned upon getting her an MP3 player, so started searching the shops for something suitable. This quickly became a very tiresome task. Now, I know, it’s hard for staff to keep up, but surely someone somewhere in the large shopping chains could arrange for assistants to learn even a little about their products. If I hear storage being confused with memory one more time, I’ll scream!!! Storage is NOT memory, MP3 players have storage, the memory requirements are seldom mentioned……..if at all.
There are 3 major types of players. The latest is the “flash” player. This is a USB device with the storage contained in the flash (surprisingly enough). There is also the CD player that can handle MP3. I already have one of those and was looking for something smaller and more robust than this. Lastly there is the portable “jukebox” type, such as the I-Pod.
I learned quickly that to get my wife a “flash” player would take a helluva lot more money than I had planned for……….some are quite cheap, but how many songs are you going to put on a 128mb player………I was hoping for a LOT more storage and, although available are extortionately priced at present.
Jukeboxes are more reasonably priced for the size of storage. I wanted to avoid the I-Pod. Something that automatically linked to I-Tunes and synchronised with your P.C. sounds wonderful until you remember DRM (digital rights management).
My shopping dream was rapidly turning into ashes. I’ve made the remark before about only a very few stores having most of the merchandise and this is one of the types of present that belongs in this category. I cut my losses and prevented more angst by heading home.
On the Net, however, it’s a different story. Mp3 players are not a novelty but are big business and there are loads of online stores to get them from. All types are represented and prices vary considerably. I ended up at “Advanced MP3 Players”
One of the reasons was, apart from the catchy name, it was a fairly local company, being based near
. It also had an extremely large supply of players of all types and was very reasonably priced (this means within my budget). Their site is nicely laid out and there are simple ways to get in touch with them. Not least of these is a telephone number where you get to speak to an actual person and not a queuing system! Edinburgh
Browsing through their players, it became apparent I’d end up with a “jukebox”, a hard drive based player. Getting to this conclusion was easy using their “select the best player” option. Storage and compactness etc more or less dictated this for my price range. I ended up buying the Xclef HD-500.
Just a few more words on the company I bought from and then I’ll get to the hardware. Buying, once I had decided on the player was also easy. The usual HTTPS page and details entered and the order was on its way. Once ordered, you quickly get back the confirmation email and your order number, although I always print this off from the web page anyway.
The next day, I went back to the site as the mail explains that you can track your order………
Tracking is a very nicely implemented idea and it is easy to check that your order is on its way. It even allows you to track if the courier has despatched it and where it is.
My Mp3 player arrived the next day and I had absolutely no problems with their system. I recommend you, at least, visit their site if you decide to get yourself an Mp3 player.
Ok, now on to the player…………
I chose the Xclef for a couple of reasons. The player is made in
, my company exports to Korea and I know extremely well how tight their quality standards are. This seemed to me to be a plus. The storage on this particular version of the device is 20Gb. Yup, that’s really 20GB………more than most of us had in their computers up to a couple of years ago…….. Korea
The Xclef as sold by Advancedmp3players has 3 options from 20 – 40 GB. I should point out that there is only about £50 difference from the 20 to the 40-gig version.
Moving files into the unit is a breeze. Simply plug into the USB port on your computer and away you go……..
Xclef states that you can store about 5000 – 8000 songs. The player also can play WMA, just in case you fancy a change from plain old Mp3’s.
The display is a small LCD on the front of the unit (160 x 105). It comes with a built in microphone and tuner.
Batterylife, depending on usage, is from 10 – 22 hours per charge. The battery is a self-contained lithium Ion pack, so should do for apprx. 2 years before it starts to lose charge ratings.
The unit itself is a small silver coloured device slightly larger than a packet of cigarettes, although slimmer. The actual dimensions are 129(H),81(W),22(D).
The menu system used is a breeze for anyone who has ever used a computer and even the wife finds it easy. There are popup systems on the menu to get you to the tuner area , just for instance.
The unit comes with a charger, USB cable, line in cable, earphones, carrying case, manual, and a CD (for Win98 drivers).
Sound quality is excellent and volume controls are on the front of the unit. Nice range to the volume as well. There is a 5-band equaliser on the unit with five pre set EQ’s as well as a customisable one, just in case you don’t like the presets.
I mentioned the built in mic and this is used to allow you to record memos and the like. The line in cable allows you to input music directly to the unit without the need for a computer and you can select quality as well, ranging from 320 – 64 kb/s. The tuner section has twenty presets you can use as well as manual tuning. You can, of course, record directly from radio as well………..
One of the other things it can do is read text files……..simply copy a text file into the unit and you can read it on your journey ….
It’s also a handy way of transferring files to your friends. Copy a file of any description, then plug into your mate’s computer when you get there and it’s done. With a 20Gb lump of drive, it means you can transfer whole ISO’s or DVD’s if you wish this way.
The USB supports usb2.0, 1.1, and 1.0 so it shouldn’t be a problem.
The unit also has the capability of getting its firmware upgraded. There is an area on the unit’s drive reserved for this (it’s marked firmware, just for the intellectually challenged). I have already tried this out as the Xclef site had an update for the unit.
Simply download the file, and then copy into the firmware drawer. On the unit getting powered back up, it shows itself updating……….easy!
I’ve tried to be as quick as I can about this unit, but I could go on for a while yet.
It really is a veritable little treasure chest of goodies, and each day shows its versatility. The wife is beside herself with it…I copied a couple of gigs of her favourite music onto it……… and the battery charge life is impressive.
Build quality is excellent as I expected and it looks like becoming one of the all time best presents bought.
Have a look at the Xclef site and see for yourself at http://www.xclef.com
By Ian Urie
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