The MP313x (available in New Zealand through mediaplayers.co.nz is a small, slim media player that will play music (WMA, MP3) or movies, display photos, record audio, and tune in to your favourite FM radio stations.
All these features are packed into a tiny form factor that fits in your hand or pocket (even a shirt pocket) easily. In the following photo we compare the size of the MP313x to a Toshiba Gigabeat F20 which is a similar size to a certain white media player. In addition to being smaller, the MP313x is also considerably lighter – partly due to using flash memory only instead of hard drive based technology in the device.
The MP313x feels nice and solid, it doesn’t flex under normal conditions and feels sturdy. The button presses are firm and provide good feedback, and the joystick is one of the easiest I’ve used.
The MP313x is a very capable device for its size. In addition to the play/pause, skip, volume control, it also has a number of other controls on it. Most notably the player also has an SD Card slot (in addition to the internal memory), a line in port, headphone port, mini USB port, and microphone. It also has button access to some of its features – menu, escape (for backing out of the menu screens), equaliser and record buttons.
You will also find a link block to allow you to attach a wrist strap or similar.
The MP313x has 1 GB (gigabyte) of internal memory that can be used for storing your media. In addition you can expand the memory in the device with Secure Digital (SD) cards which come in varieties of up to 2Gb (higher capacity cards have been announced but not yet released).
Of course, it also has a huge 1.8 inch colour screen – okay, not huge for media devices, but it still takes up most of the front of the device – so it’s huge when you consider whats packed in underneath it and the size of the device.
Plugging in the MP313x to the computer was nice and easy. The device turns up in Windows Explorer as a removable drive meaning you can copy any types of file to it for storage. It also has full support for Windows Media Player which makes it easy to sync it with your media library.
The menu system on the device is very intuitive, easy to read and simple to navigate through. The joystick makes it almost a fun experience. I found the settings menu to be fairly long and felt that this could have been broken up a little better, but the settings seemed to do what they were meant to do.
Playback of music and radio worked fine. My only complaint with regards to playing music is that there didn’t appear to be an easy way to queue up music to the already playing music. Similarly the navigation system causes you to pick an album to play, you can't seem to play all songs by an artist or mix your music up.
Based on what I saw of the MP313x’s ability to play video, I wouldn’t recommend this if you want something that will get lots of video use. The device came with a number of video samples supplied on it which played a little choppy and also seemed to have problems with the audio and video falling out of sync – the Haka looks weird when the AB’s aren’t opening their mouths but you can hear it…
The line in and microphone offer some interesting scenarios: you can record sound from the external microphone or record from another source with the line in socket.
The screen was really good at displaying photos, rendering pictures well and with great colour. The screen has particularly good contrast which really helps with colour clarity. Scrolling through photos was quick and easy.
Why didn’t they…?
If you have the ability to put an SD card into a device with internal memory, why not allow you to transfer photos from the SD card to the internal memory? It seems like a logical extension to the functionality of the device. You can then load your photos from your camera onto the device directly, which would be great for storing photos on the go – but alas this device doesn’t have this functionality.
This device offers a plethora of features that many more expensive players don’t have, and the size and functionality of the device are great. I had minor problems with the device locking up – although a forced software reset fixed that, but otherwise was very happy with the playback and functionality of the device.