SanDisk Cruzer micro & MP3 Companion - SanDisk Cruzer mini & MP3 Companion

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If you prefer WMA over MP3, then you’ll be glad to know that the Cruzer micro MP3 companion will play WMA as well as MP3, but unfortunately there is no support for OGG files. In terms of usability it couldn’t be much more simplistic, as it only has three buttons. On the front, next to the display is a play/pause button and on the side is a volume up/down button as well as a jog wheel.


To power on the device, you press and hold the play/pause button for about 3-4 seconds until the SanDisk logo appears on the display. As long as you have your Cruzer micro plugged in, the MP3 companion will start playing the tracks that it finds as soon as it has powered on.


The menu system is access by depressing the jog dial and it’s from here that you adjust all the settings of the MP3 companion. The first menu option takes you to a choice of play modes, with a range of shuffle and repeat options. The next menu option is the equalizer, which has a range of presets as well as a manual option, so top marks here. Next up is the option to select which folder to play, which is handy if you have sorted your music in folders.


The settings menu enables you to change the screen contrast and brightness, the language – although it only supports English and French, as well as setting the idle shutdown time. The information submenu shows the current firmware version and how much memory you have free. There is also an option for changing the orientation of the LCD, and finally a factory reset option.


The two final menus allow you to delete files and enable the key-lock. All pretty basic stuff, but all the features you need are there.


The sound quality of the MP3 companion is first rate and comparable to much more expensive MP3 players. The only downside I could find is that the MP3 companion had issues playing back high quality MP3 files – music encoded at over 320Kbit caused the player to lock up. This also happened when I played some VBR encoded MP3 files. The problems with certain file encodes is an issue, but it’s not uncommon with MP3 players.


One design flaw is the battery cover, which is only attached to the MP3 companion by a tiny sliver of plastic – this could break off if you’re not careful when replacing the battery. Supplied with the MP3 companion is a set of mediocre headphones, again something that is pretty common with portable audio devices. There’s also a belt clip that’s easy to attach, although I’d rather carry the device in my pocket. Measuring 59 x 49 x 22mm (L x W x H) it is very pocket friendly and compact.


The manual is very basic but covers all you need to know in three pages. SanDisk claims up to nine hours of continuous use on one AAA battery, and having used it for a while now, I wouldn’t dispute that.


But the real icing on the cake is that the Cruzer micro MP3 companion will only set you back £42.89 which makes it an attractive alternative to a regular MP3 player as you get the functionality of a USB memory key as well. In fact you can pick up a 256MB Cruzer micro stick and MP3 companion for less than most 256MB MP3 players, and you get the advantage of carrying multiple memory keys with different music with you.


”’Verdict”’


The Cruzer micro is a small, affordable, pocket friendly USB memory key, although it could do with some faster write speeds. Add the Cruzer micro MP3 companion though, and you’ve got yourself a very affordable MP3 player with removable memory. Neither product is outstanding on its own, but as a combination you can’t really go wrong.

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