It always seems like the kids are the only ones who ever get anything fun to play with when we go the store. So, my husband and I felt that we had been pretty good ourselves so we decided to buy a present for ourselves.
Recommend this product?
I mentioned an Ipod because thats the cool in thing these days. Ran across the price tag and scratched if off the list quickly. I told my husband that it was a shame that it cost so much because I would really liked to have had one. He mentioned it was basically a MP3 player and began his online research for the best MP3 player that little money could buy
.because we both wanted one.
After diligent searching we each came home with the Centon Digital MP3 / WMA player that offers an easy to view backlit LCD screen, USB 2.0 support, FM Tuner, Digital Voice Recorder, ID3 Tag support, and plays both MP3 and WMA Music.
We got an incredible deal on the Centon MP3 player at CompUSA purchasing it for only $29 after instant and mail-in rebates. (Only one $10 rebate per household though). The original price is $50. This has been on special a couple times that I know of now, but we havent seen this particular model sold anywhere else (more about this under the community topic).
The package claims that this 256MB player will play 4 hours of music @ 128kbps I assume using the MP3 format. Using WMA however it seems possible to squeeze well over 6 hours of music on to the device.
The MP3 player is a little thicker than I had wanted being that it is about as thick as two USB flash drives (about 1" total) stacked on top of each other, however after wearing it for a while I no longer notice the "bulge" under my shirt.
The MP3 player supports MP1, MP3, MP3, and WMA playback formats. MP3 is supported up to 320Kbps, and WMA to 384KBps. It offers support for folders and ID3 tags however it does not support play lists. Files copied to it will be played in the order that they were copied. The device does however support "random" or shuffle mode which is how I have it configured. There appear to be options to configure how often songs are re-played however I have not changed them.
Digital Voice Recorder:
Recording is supported in ACT format at 8kb or in WAV format at 32kb. It is not documented how long a recording can last, so I must assume it will record until the battery dies or the 256MB of flash is full. The DVR also includes a playback function that is seperate from the MP3 player.
The MP3 player supports dividing the flash memory into two disks, one may be encrypted to allow content to be secured from "unwanted eyes".
The headphones that come with the Centon MP3 player feature a built in neck rope which clips to the MP3 player so you can wear the MP3 player around your neck. The earbuds come out of the neck rope at shoulder level, and reasonably comfortable to wear. Its easy to put the rope on backwards. They have a little letter on the buds that say L or R which may make a difference in comfort. They sound better than either of us expected for "included" headphones. I considered buying replacement buds when I paid for the player but decided to hold off and Im glad I did.
It doesnt have an onboard speaker so it must be hooked up to earphones (or through another method) in order to hear it.
I read in a formum that the headphones must be 32 OHM anything less than 32 can damage the player. Not sure how true that is, but worth considering.
There are 6 built in equalizer modes: Natural, Rock, Pop, Classical, Soft, Jazz, and DBB. I've found that the "Rock" mode sounds the best for the style of music that I prefer, however all of the modes do sound vastly different and your mileage will vary based on your style.
Included with Centon MP3 players shipped after 09/2005 is a built in FM radio. This full featured radio includes auto and manual presets, and the ability to save 20 stations per band (US and Japanese bands available). The saved stations can be switched simply by pressing the play button. I use the FM radio all the time and havent had any problem with static nor did I have any problem finding stations.
The MP3 player comes with 1 AAA battery to get you started. The manual claims that you should get up to 10 hours on 1 AAA. We use AAA but havent timed how many hours it lasts but it is probably in the 10 hour range. If you use 1.2v rechargeable batteries the built in battery monitor may never show the batteries are full, even if they are. This is because the device expects a 1.5v battery to be installed. There are no functional issues using rechargeable batteries that I've noticed.
Sometimes the display is hard to see outside on a sunny day. The display screen is only a quarter of an inch tall and maybe 2 inches in length. The font is very tiny. I have perfect eyesight but I image it would be difficult to see for those who dont.
There is a "hold" switch on the player that locks all of the buttons so the music can't be altered or the player shut off when you are jogging. I wear mine under my shirt when Im walking every day and havent had any problems with it changing.
The Centon MP3 player also includes the ability to display lyrics on the screen to go with the music using "[mp3_name].lrc" files. The lrc file is a standard text file using a format similar to: "[00:00.00] song text". According to my short research there may be bugs in the lyric code and it is recommended that the lyrics files be kept as simple as possible with no special characters in the files.
The Centon MP3 player appears to have started life as an "S1 Mp3 Player" or S1mp3 and then re-branded. There is an active community following the s1mp3 which is creating custom firmware for the device. There you will find all sorts of information, including how to recover from bad flashes or how to load custom screens onto the MP3 player. I have not attempted to load any custom firmware on the device so I cant speak to how well it works.
Using with other items
. We purchased a FM transmitter which is sold separately ($20-$35). If you have or purchase this extra item you can also use your MP3 Player with your home stereo, personal computer, or FM radio in the car, or anything that has a FM radio and headjack. We play our music through other sources all the time; its a great option to have. If you dont have the FM Transmitter you can get a headphone to RCA cable (about $5) to plug into the back of your stereo. Nothing else is needed if you just want to listen to it through the headphones. But, headphones do become uncomfortable after awhile.
In my opinion its awesome all the way around and worth a solid 5 because it does more than I expected. I think it is comparable to more expensive MP3 Players. I think its quite a deal for the price.
Amount Paid (US$): 29.99
Recommended for: Beginners - Easy Enough for Tech Newbies