xD-MP3 Player 

A new digital accessory from Fujifilm could be said to have a split personality. Although entitled xD-MP3, this device combines the features of a memory card reader and pen drive with its main function of being an MP3 player.

The device, powered by a single AAA battery, bears some resemblance to an upturned pear in shape. While mainly silver in colour, the broadest part of the unit has a dark purple circular face that holds the MP3 player controls. A removable sheath found at the other end of the device conceals a USB connector. This connector enables the device to be plugged directly into any spare USB port as if it was a memory stick or other similar device. A short USB extension cable is provided. This is very short in length, approximately 25cm, but should prove useful when avoiding a situation of two bulky devices needing to occupy adjacent USB ports.

As you might have surmised from the product's name, this player supports the xD-Picture Card format. However no card is provided with the product and so you will need to purchase one which could add as much as £30 to the price for a 64MB card. A side-mounted switch lets you toggle between lock/unlock mode so that can data can be written to the card or protected from any accidental erasing. This card reading ability is limited to this one card format which does limit its usefulness especially with the availability of very reasonably priced multi-format card read/write units.

While you can use the device to hold or transfer images and the like, its main use will be to play MP3 files for music on the move. A travelling case is provided. This is constructed of leather and plastic with a belt clip. While the belt clip feels sturdy, the same could not be said of the plastic pocket element that actually holds the player but at least it does enable the user to see and access the various controls.

Copying 36.9MB of data from the computer, involving 10 MP3 tracks, to the MP3 player took 86 seconds. This transfer rate of around 26MB a minute should be more than enough for most mobile music lovers. When tracks need to be deleted, the device will need to be connected to the computer.

The circular control panel holds four buttons. The top two are used to turn power on/off and start/stop the music while the lower two have dual functionality. A quick press is used to move backwards and forwards through the tracks. Holding down these buttons a little longer and the volume can be adjusted up or down. A similar approach is used by a side button to adjust the bass level and switch to a random order of tracks.

Unfortunately due to a lack of LCD display, this MP3 player has no means of providing information regarding the track, timing issues and volume level. I found this to be rather inconvenient especially as I could never remember whether the device was in random play mode or not.

While the price of this unit, £39.99, might seem reasonable for a multi-feature device, it should be remembered that an additional purchase could be necessary before it can be used. You almost double this price when buying a 64MB card. Of course if you already have xD-cards then this MP3 player is a more attractive proposition.

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