BenQ Joybee 110

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  • Review Price: £99.00

Fresh from the 2004 Consumer Electronics Show is one of BenQ’s latest mp3 players, the peculiar looking Joybee 110. Unlike the metal Joybee 150 I reviewed previously, the 110 is constructed entirely from plastic, so sadly it loses out a little on the build quality front. Having said that, it’s not as flimsy as some mp3 players I have used and in terms of looks you’re going to be hard pushed to find another player that stands out from the crowd as much as this one.


Finished in a two-tone porcelain white and pale grey body, this Joybee also features what BenQ describes as a ‘funky deep violet’ centre that surrounds the tiny yet sharp 2 x 1.35cm backlit LCD. The company has also informed me that the Joybee 110 is available in two other colours, namely ‘orange blossom’, and ‘leafy green’.


As for its shape, I can only express this as being analogous to something that Salvador Dali might create. Failing that description, it somewhat reminds me of a small mobile phone that has lost its alphanumerical keypad. Whatever one thinks, the 110 is certainly not your average mp3 player and I reckon it will appeal to some, and yet not to others. Personally, I find it a little bit toyish, but I can pretty much guarantee that my sister will love it.


In use, the 110 is light at 40g and fits snugly into the palm of the hand, thanks to its curves. If you want to wear it around your neck then a strap is supplied that snaps into a clip tethered to the Joybee, just next to the 3.5mm headphone jack. The headphones themselves are pretty standard models and feature an inline volume control. However, I’m willing to bet that they won’t maintain their brilliant white colour for long.


The sound quality from the headphones is clear and reasonably wide, but the volume tops out too early. I just needed a few more presses on the volume button to satisfy my eardrums, but perhaps BenQ is trying to protect them for me? Either way if you want to listen to music in a reasonably noisy environment – the underground/metro for instance – you might want to rip your tunes at an elevated recording volume, otherwise you’ll be listening to a disturbing fusion of commuter noise merged with your favourite beats.


Unfortunately, adjustment of the ripping settings (apart from the bitrate) is not offered by the Qmusic2 software, so those of you who are serious about volume levelling will have to use third party software. It’s also worth noting that you don’t have to use the Qmusic2 program to transfer files. In fact, you can simply hook up the Joybee to a PC via its USB 1.1 interface in order to add another removable drive to your Windows setup – ideal for small data backups and simple dragging and dropping of music files.


Qmusic2, however, does behave like a slimmed down media player for playing CDs, mp3s and creating playlists. Oh and another thing. This Joybee has a built-in battery that replenishes its juice by drawing power directly from a PC’s USB port. A feature that I’d like to see on more small mp3 players, so thumbs up to BenQ for incorporating this. Expect a three-hour wait for a full charge, giving about 10 hours of playback.