This takes us to the USB cable, which unusually is a USB extension cable, rather than a USB to mini USB cable. Connection to the 516BT is achieved via a USB to mini USB converter which makes for a very large chunk of plastic sticking out of the base of the player when charging. I think a USB to mini USB cable would have been a more elegant choice.
The final two things in the box are a 2.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable that can be used either for line-in or line-out from the headphone socket and of course the headphones themselves. The headphones are very similar to those that MSI supplied with the MEGA Player 515 with the addition of a microphone, which is needed to make the 516BT usable as a mobile phone hands-free.
The problem is that the headphones are of the over the ear design, which makes them less than ideal for use as a mobile phone hands-free in a noisy environment such as a car. But the biggest problem is the poor microphone – it’s been placed too far up on the headphone wire and doesn’t pick up your voice very well, which kind of defeats the whole purpose.
The Bluetooth functionality worked OK with an Orange SPV C500, although I had less luck with an NEC e616 as the volume of this phone over Bluetooth is quite low. MSI supplies a list of tested phones that are guaranteed to work with the 516BT, so you might want check that your phone’s on there before buying.
During the time of this review, MSI issued a new firmware upgrade that thankfully sorted out some of the Bluetooth issues that I initially had with the 516BT – it wouldn’t revert to playing music after a call was made or received, instead choosing to hang in voice call mode, while pressing the Bluetooth button would just redial the last dialled number.
One advantage that the 516BT has over other Bluetooth hands-free units is the ability to record your telephone conversations, just make sure that this feature is legal in the country you’re in. This is a great way to remember phone numbers or things that your wife wants you to pick up from the shop on your way home.
Some of the Bluetooth functions don’t work with all phones, like the voice operated dialling and the ability to display the number of the caller on the 516BT’s display. On the plus side, if you’re listening to music and your phone rings, the music will stop and the phone call will be sent to the headphones.
MSI claims 12 hours battery life and I can’t say I ever ran out of power during the time I used it, so it seems like modern Lithium Polymer technology is finally making an impact on the portable audio market. The battery life is of course decreased when you enable Bluetooth, just like with mobile phones.
Apart from the addition of the Bluetooth and memory card slot the 516BT doesn’t really improve upon the 515, which is a shame, as the 515 was such a good product considering the price. The 516BT is also priced a lot higher at £117.44 but the added functionality validates some of that extra cost. I am however not as impressed with the 516BT as I was by the 515 – it looks like a run of the mill MP3 player, and the Bluetooth functionality definitely needs a bit of polishing.
The MEGA Player 516BT is a novel idea but poorly executed with a few too many glitches and oversights. It is still as good an MP3 player as the MEGA Player 515, but the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack, oddly configured USB/power cable and poor mic positioning spoil the package.