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When it comes to battery life, the TrekStor can't match the Clip or GoGear, offering just seven hours compared to 15. Nor can it compete on sound quality terms. I hooked up a pair of Denon AH-C751 headphones and fired up a few test favourites only to find the TrekStor distinctly lacking in clarity. Newton Faulkner's Teardrop was delivered with plenty of gumption, but sounded as if someone had padded out the sound with builder's gap filler. There's plenty of powerful bass but it's very woolly. There's absolutely no zing to the top end, and the mid-range just sounds like it's had the life beaten out of it with a meat mallet.
Moving on to a touch of Metallica and the same performance was repeated; it was the same story with a touch of Pat Metheney's laconic jazz guitar; and, as I worked my way through my music collection, from classical to soul, big band to reggae, I realised that switching music genre was going to change nothing. The i.Beat is, simply, a deeply average-sounding music player.
Amazingly, for a £15 player, the bundled headphones aren't the worst I've heard - they don't hiss in the quiet bits or distort when you pump the volume right up - but they don't help the i.Beat's sound quality or improve the player's disastrous ease of use.
It still feels a bit weird criticising what amounts to a personal media player that costs only £15 and manages to cram in a decent number of features. After all, it's quite a feat fitting in video playback, an FM radio and microphone for this kind of money. But with other cheap players offering so much more, it just has to be said - I'd rather have halfway decent music playback and a device that's easy to use instead of this ill-thought out do-anything player.
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