- Review Price: £159.00
Pocket friendly MP3 players are far from rare these days and there’s a huge amount of choice for prospective buyers right now. It makes you wonder why there are so many companies that are still jumping on the bandwagon with such a crowded market. Add to this the similarities of many of the players and it’s clear that you need something pretty special to make a splash these days.
MPeye is a new company to TrustedReviews when it comes to MP3 players and like so many other manufacturers, Mpeye is Korean. The model on test is the HTS-200. I wonder when these Far Eastern manufacturers are going to realise that no-one thinks it’s cool to own a product that only has a model number rather than name – HTS-200 or iPod, which is more catchy?
The device itself is constructed from white and silver plastic with a metal plate on the front and back. The HTS-200 won’t sell on looks as there are dozens of devices that look similar. However, its size might be a strong selling point as it only measures 70 x 43 x 18mm (WxHxD) which is quite small considering that it has a built in 5GB hard drive. MPeye even goes as far as to say that this is the worlds smallest 5GB hard drive based MP3 player.
It’s not going to weigh down your pocket either at 72g, including the rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Battery time is quoted at 15 hours, although this is with continuous playback, so expect to get in the region of 12 hours stop/start usage.
The HTS-200 has a 120×80 pixel CSTN LCD colour display that measures just over one inch diagonally. A colour display might not appear to be a critical part of an MP3 player and with a screen this size it might seem even more useless. Not so, as the resolution is fairly high for such a tiny screen and the menu system is very easy to read despite the tiny screen.
The features don’t stop here as MPeye has added an FM radio as well as line in recording. Personally I couldn’t care less about the line in functionality, but the built in microphone could come in handy when you need a voice recorder. It’s not the most sensitive microphone in the world, but it does the job.
The main control of the HTS-200 is based on a four way joystick that’s pressed inwards to make selections. Moving it up and down in play mode adjusts the volume while moving it to either side skips to the next or previous track – this will also fast forward or rewind the music playing if held to either side for any length of time. Press and hold the joystick down quickly to access the file and picture browser, or hold it down for two seconds to access the menu system.
There are a further three buttons that are used to control the HTS-200 and these can be found on the bottom of the player. The play/pause button which also doubles up and the on/off switch, then there is the repeat/hold button and finally an A-B button which is also used for switching to the voice recorder mode. The 2.5mm line in jack can also be found on this side of the player.
On the right hand side is a mini USB 2.0 connector as well as a reset switch, both hidden underneath a rubber flap. The left hand side is home to the headphone socket as well as a loop to which the supplied neck strap can be attached. Apart from the neck strap you also get a USB to mini USB 2.0 cable, a 2.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable, a see-through plastic protective pouch with a belt hoop, a charger and a set of pretty average white headphones. A CD with Windows 98 drivers and a play list creation application is also bundled, along with a paper manual.
The MP3 Music Manager can do more than play lists though, since the colour screen can display images – it also has a basic image editing tool and an image uploader. You can even create your own animated GIFs with the software.
Navigating the menus is as easy as any other joystick driven menu system. The menus options are settings, sound effects, recordings, display, FM radio, USB and exit. You can use one of the pre-set equalizer settings in the sound effects menu or make your own. There is also a 3D audio setting which I have to say sounded rather good for a change. The FM radio auto scans for available radio stations and you can save up to 40 station presets.
For those interested in playing other formats than MP3 the HTS-200 can handle both WMA and OGG files. MP3s are limited to a maximum 320kbps and WMA to 192kbps quality. Sound quality was generally very good, although not with the bundled headphones. There were no problems with the hard drive skipping during use either, although a device like this should have a generous enough buffer to avoid such behavior.
Overall the MPeye HTS-200 offers a solid set of features that will give the more established brands a run for their money, but at £158.95 it’s going to have a problem competing with the likes of the Creative Zen micro which is cheaper and more aesthetically pleasing. The colour screen and the physical dimensions are major plus points for this device, and for some buyers, that may be enough.
The MPeye HTS-200 isn’t the best looking player around, but it offers a solid feature set and good sound quality in a very small package. However, the slightly high price tag and the strong competition take away some of its shine.
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