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      30.06.2010 22:29
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      on balance a good choice from the portable CD range

      There seem to be a bewildering choice of CD players around - there are 55 listed on Dooyoo from Phillips alone. However to narrow the choice a little, Phillips players with a model number starting 'A' play audio CDs, and those with a model number starting 'EXP' play both audio and MP3 CDs (EXP standing for 'expanium' - no idea what it means).

      I've accumulated / inherited three portable CD players over the years. The Phillips isn't the best looking or the easiest to use, but it is the one I use the most - generally plugged into external speakers on the kitchen window sill. The reason it's my preferred choice is the ability to play MP3 discs which last much, much longer than an audio CD - so no need to keep changing disks with messy hands during a long day's cooking. Why not an MP3 player? Well I already have a collection of MP3 disks and the EXP 3361 seems to pump out more volume to un-amplified portable speakers.

      This model also plays WMA encoded disks which have even longer playing time but are a less common format. Both MP3 and WMA can be organised into albums

      The controls unfortunately aren't at all intuitive - more effort seems to have gone into an 'artistic' design for the buttons than ease of use. However once you've got used to them they do the usual jobs, volume, skip track, hold, plus for MP3 / WMA play there are skip album, shuffle and repeat options. There's also 'dynamic bass boost' but I'm never certain if that improves my music or not.

      At times, especially with MP3 and when skip protection is engaged, the motor can make a very audible whirring but overall it's not too distracting.

      On the side of the unit there is a combined headphones and line out socket, and a power socket for an external 3v supply. An interesting feature is that two alternative covers are supplied for the battery compartment - one to accommodate two AAA batteries and the other for a pair of the larger AA size. Rechargeables work fine and battery life with the AAs I always use is reasonable.

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