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Lexar Music
256 MB MP3 Player/USB "JumpDrive"

[image] Star Combo

Buy it at eCost

(The price says "$119.99," but they add $5 for "handling" even
though shipping is free, so the final price will be around $125.)

Have you ever owned one of these things? Drop me a note and let me know about your experience with it?

Overview: It's a portable MP3 player that lets you use its storage space for other files. It mounts as a hard drive without installing any drivers, giving you access to your stuff on Macs and PCs alike.

Background: I've wanted to get a "pen drive" ever since my brother got one for himself last year. A "pen drive" (or flash drive) is a small USB device you can plug into a computer and use like a removeable hard disk. It stores your files on a small memory chip that can vary in side from 32 megabytes to over a gigabyte. These devices usually do not require special drivers in order to work. This means you can carry all your files on a "pen drive" and use it on Macs and PCs without worrying about how to access them.

While looking for the ideal pen drive online, I discovered many of them could also play MP3s. This seemed like a great combination: I could use my pen drive to store files when I needed to work at the library, and I could also use it as an MP3 player so I could listen to music while exercising.

The lowdown: Here's the scoop: it works. I've tried this device on my brother's Windows 2000 PC and on my Mac with Mac OS 9 and X.3. It mounted without much trouble every time. I just had to remember to push the center button to get it to activate, and it took a few seconds for it to figure itself out, but it worked and worked fine.

The Lexar Music player has just one button, but it works pretty well. You push right and left to switch from song to song, and push up and down to adjust the volume. Pressing the button stops and starts the music, while holding it down gives you a menu with options such as an equalizer, system information, and other options.

My favorite feature: SHUFFLE! Many MP3 players don't you the option to "shuffle" your playlist, but Lexar Music does. One hitch: it shuffles the playlist once, but it tends to stay there until you add or remove MP3 files later.

It also has a "lock" feature, which I like so I don't accidentally hit the off button while jogging. Unfortunately, you have to access this from the menu, which is a time consuming. I'd rather than hit a button to lock it and hit it again to unlock.

One major disadvantage: the "one button" navigation only allows you to switch some one MP3 to another, and doesn't let you see them in a "file list view." This is extremely annoying if you want to play one specific song. The files are displayed in the order they were added to the drive, so you'll may have to push the main knob dozens of times before you find the song you want.

The Good: IT WORKS. You plug it in, push the button, and it mounts. You put your MP3s inside and then you can play them back later with no restrictions.

The Bad: Poor navigation system makes it hard to find the MP3s you want to hear. Display screen scratches very easily.

Final verdict: It doesn't hold thousands of songs like an iPod, but for me, 60 songs is all I need for a good workout. I also like being able to plug it into any PC or Mac via USB to access my files. If you need a cheap MP3 player that lets you store your files as well as your music, Lexar is for you. If you want something to hold your entire MP3 library, get an iPod.

What's in the box:

  • Main unit with removable cap
  • Small manual.
  • AAA battery
  • Ear-bud style phones
  • Male-female USB extension cord
  • Some kind of clip or strap for the device that I have no idea how to attach properly.

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