does it work?
With only 32-Mb memory
I knew putting very high quality MP3's wouldn't be very feasible. Not if I
wanted to have more than 15 minutes of music. I settled on 96-KB and 128-KB
songs. I also installed one 160-KB song to see how well that sounded compared
to the other songs. I was quite impressed. The ear-bud headphones included
with the unit were able to reproduce sound faithfully. There was no bass cut
off or distortion noticed with these headphones. Since most people will probably
use this unit in this capacity it's a good thing that Rome didn't skimp on
their choice for headphones
In the car it was a little
different. Rome's FAQ's clearly state that the unit doesn't work perfectly
in all tape decks. The first car I inserted the unit into had a maddening
problem. Although there were no problems with the audio output of the unit,
the deck kept switching between side A and B constantly. The constant click-clack
can get to be quite annoying in a quiet area of a song. The second car I tried
the unit had the same A-B switching problem, with drops in volume that corresponded
with the switching. Obviously the head on this deck moves when the deck switches
from one side of a tape to the other. I did find a couple of decks that the
unit worked correctly in. Seems that it's about a 50/50 chance you won't need
a tape style adapter to plug into your tape deck. I tried the unit in a couple
of different home stereo units and am happy to report that I had absolutely
no problems with the unit playing in them. Even in a small boombox I was able
to get very good sound. The sound reproduced is noticeably better when played
in a car or home stereo, or even in the small boombox. That shows the limitations
of a set of ear-bud phones. The sound is great when used with a high quality
set of normal headphones.
So at this point I'm sure
you are wondering how you are supposed to switch songs when the unit is inserted
in a tape deck. You simply use the normal controls on the deck to make your
selections. I'm sure this explains the REW and FF naming convention on the
unit rather than NEXT or LAST. Battery life was great, especially considering
I kept playing with the unit on a less than full charge when I first pulled
it out of the box. The little kid in me couldn't wait 3 hours for the battery
to charge before I started playing with it.
This is a great MP3 player.
The combination of 32 MB of memory with the size of an audiocassette make
this a very appealing player for someone who moves in out of a car all the
time. I liked having the tiny unit in my pocket while on the go and then being
able to put it in the car's tape deck when I wanted to hear my MP3's on the
road. I eventually got over the A-B switching problem by using a tape-style
adapter designed for portable CD players. Decks that aren't so sensitive to
switching between sides will work great with this unit in its as delivered
The transfer software
for the unit is very easy to use. I noticed at Rome's site that they are working
with MP3 software publishers to add support for this unit within those programs.
I look forward to being able to move files from within Real Jukebox and skipping
the need for the transfer software altogether. Larger MP3 players have LCD
screens to display the artist and track info and more memory. Those are nice
features, but I was more than willing to give those features up for the tape
adaptability of this unit.
I would have liked to
have more memory in the unit. You can't add more, but Rome
will be selling a 64-MB version at their site soon. I don't have pricing for
the 64-MB version, but at $199 I think the 32-MB version is great for someone
on the go that would like the unique tapedeck adaptability of this unit.