“ Brand: Alba / Size: 2GB / Type: mp3 player / Display: Dot matrix 7 colours LCD display „
* Prices may differ from that shown
Daughter got quite a bit of Christmas money, and one of the things she bought herself was a cheap MP3 player. Unfortunately we couldn't get it work at all, but I'd thrown out the receipt (whoops!), so I felt I owed her a replacement.
On a trip to Argos for something else, we flicked through the catalogue and saw their range of MP3 players. We decided we might as well pick up a fairly cheap one for her. But we didn't want to go *quite* as cheap, since her previous tenner's worth one had been such a bust. Eventually we settled on the Alba 2GB. It is currently on sale for £18.99 from Argos, although we paid closer to £23 at the time.
One of the main selling points for me was that it takes an AAA battery, as most of the comparable products charge from the computer, which I could only view as a pain in the bottom. I find that things that need charging are constantly out of charge when you want them! Also, having it tied to the use of the computer would mean it would be no good for taking with us on camping holidays.
I also liked that it had a small screen and generally the look of it.
It has 3 interchangeable covers: pink, white and black (as shown in the picture above). Actually trying to change the covers over isn't that easy as they are very firmly clicked into place, which is good I suppose, in that it doesn't fall apart when jogged about. I think if you frequently changed the covers they might become loose, so I'd recommend picking a look and sticking with it. The battery cover at the back slides off and clips in more easily and some reviewers at the Argos site have complained it falls off. We haven't found this so far, but alert to this potential problem, are being very careful when we do need to take it off not to damage the connecting bit.
The feel of MP3 is quite nice, it's not horribly plasticky, although it is plastic. For the price, it looks quite reasonable, I think. It's light and slim, so fits into a pocket easily. It doesn't have a clip for a belt or anything, unfortunately.
It does come with a user manual, headphones and USB cable. This is quite a short cable, which I actually thought was a good idea, as often times you get lengths of the stuff that you really don't need and that gets the cats all excited.
It was a simple matter to plug it into both MP3 and lap-top. The lap-top recognised it and set up device drivers automatically, and I was ready to go.
The MP3 is "compatible with Microsoft Windows 98 SE, Windows ME, Windows 2000, Windows XP. CPU: Intel Pentium 3, Pentium 4 and other CPU with relevant functions. RAM: 64MB or above. Hard disk Space: 200MB idle memory or above." It works just fine with my lap-top with Windows 7. It's dead easy to transfer music onto the MP3 player, using Windows Media Player. You simply select the songs you want from your music library and press 'sync' to start the transfer to the MP3.
The 2GB memory means the MP3 can store up to 450 songs, which is more than enough for Daughter at present. She only has 4 or 5 albums at the moment. I'm tempted to add some of my music for when I borrow it, but I think I'd get told off.
The ear-bud head-phones that came with it aren't that great quality and we ended up using a different set. The ones that came with it hurt Daughter's ears and the sound was a bit tinny. She liked the fact they had a neck-strap so that when she wasn't using them they could dangle about her neck safely, but other than that they had nothing to recommend them.
I'm not particularly tech nor music-minded (I probably couldn't tell a woofer from a tweeter!), so I can't really speak with authority about sound quality. As an inexpert :), the MP3 puts out what seems to me a reasonable sound, but I've only listened through fairly cheap head-phones and through Daughter's iDog speaker clip. You do have to make sure the speaker or head-phones are plugged in properly, however, as they can look as if they are, but not be and then the sound (if any) is crackly and intermittent, not surprisingly. I think for the price, the sound quality's very acceptable.
I like the "dot matrix 7 colours LCD display" of this MP3. Although it looks a little out-dated, it's very useful. The screen dims to save power when you're not interacting with the MP3, and lights again fully when you press a button. When playing music, it tells you which artist and song it is, and it also shows menus. You can shuffle, repeat, arrange your music into your own selections or play by artist or album.
I don't find interacting with the MP3 particularly intuitive - to be honest, even turning it on had me stumped for a bit (you hold down the play button). For accessing other functions you press the 'm' menu button and use the '+' and '-' to switch through options. The manual is helpful about what the MP3 can do, but doesn't actually spell out what buttons you need to press to get to the functions! Once you've got the hang of it tho, it's simple enough.
Handily, it has a 'hold' switch you can flick across to lock the keys for when it's in a pocket.
As a bit of an extra, the MP3 has a small in-built microphone for a sound record function. The quality of the wav. files seems decent enough, and it's a bit of fun to play with.
The battery life is suggested to be 25 hours. I don't know how accurate that is, as surely it will depend on the quality of battery you use as well as the MP3 itself. But Daughter (and I, sneakily) get a lot of play out of it and we don't seem to need to change the battery that often.
It's been a real success with her and I think as her first proper MP3 is a good buy. In a year or so I can see us upgrading, but for now it does just fine. I'd recommend this player to people just starting out with the technology, those on a budget or as a casual use MP3.
Product details (as available from Argos):
Alba 2GB MP3 Player with Covers.
* Dot matrix 7 colours LCD display.
* 2GB memory.
* 25 hours battery life.
* Stores up to 450 songs.
* Compatible with Microsoft Windows 98 SE, Windows ME, Windows 2000, Windows XP. CPU: Intel Pentium 3, Pentium 4 and other CPU with relevant functions. RAM: 64MB or above. Hard disk Space: 200MB idle memory or above.
* MP3/WMA compatible.
* Repeat and play functions.
* 2.0 USB port.
* DRM 9 compatible.
* USB cable supplied.
* Weight 28g.
* Size H7.8, W2.9, D1.2cm.
* Batteries required 1 x AAA (included).