Agent 001 Tunes In To MP3 Players

Published Date
01 - Mar - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Mar - 2006
Agent 001 Tunes In To MP3 Players
If there's one thing we geeks love besides tech, it's chocolate cake. For this reason, a colleague's birthday gets us all excited. However, there's a downside to it… the gift! Geeks are really hard to shop for: they'd even love a teddy bear, provided it could speak in binary and connect to the Internet and read out your mail to you!

This month round, it was Ram's turn to grow a year older, and since he's an audiophile, we chipped in and gathered a respectable Rs 10,000 to buy him an MP3 player. 

Unfortunately, no dealer here lets you listen to any of the players, so you can't make your decision based on what you hear

Somehow I always get saddled with the task of buying tech products, and this time was no exception. A hard drive-based player on the limited 10K budget would be a problem, so a Flash-based player it was to be. My first thought was to pick up an older Apple iPod Mini-despite it being discontinued, there's still old stock available in the market.

I was sure to get a lesser-known brand with a higher capacity, but then what kind of gift would that be? Besides, there's no guarantee for such products, and buying one is like playing tech-roulette. Then there's the whole deal with the audio quality-since Ram is an audiophile, we couldn't buy just anything!

This is one buying trip that didn't see me visit Mumbai's famous Lamington Road, since it's not the right place to buy an MP3 player in Mumbai. Instead I headed off to Heera-Panna, near the famous Haji Ali mosque-this place is  consumer electronics paradise!

As it happened, the very first shop I entered had a large stock of audio players. The iPod is the fastest-selling of these devices, and seeing a whole bunch of them lined up was no surprise. Since they are out of my budget, asking for one didn't make any sense. I saw the iPod Shuffle and asked about it; the shop-owner had both the 512 MB and the 1 GB models. The former retails at around Rs 3,750, whereas the latter would set us back by Rs 6,000.

The shop also stocked the beautiful iRiver MP3 players. The T20 and N10 were on display; both were 256 MB, and had LCD displays-something the iPod shuffle lacks. It was nice to hear that both used internal rechargeable Li-ion batteries. I somehow liked the N10 for its cool OLED display. Both these players retail at Rs 8,000.

The next shop had a lot of Creative players, and the owner was glad to answer all my questions. Here's what I found out: the MuVo slim 128 MB, with an LCD and an Li-ion rechargeable battery retails at about Rs 4,750. The rugged Creative C100 256 MB, with a big LCD, retails at Rs 5,500. The MuVo V200 also made a solid impression, and retails at around Rs 5,000.

This shop also had Samsung models, and I was completely bowled over by the way Samsung has designed their MP3 players. The Samsung YP-C1 has 1 GB of space with an LCD display, and was the cheapest in the whole range-it cost around Rs 5,750, but it wasn't desirable enough. At the other end, the Samsung YP-T8 with 1 GB of space, a 262K TFT screen, video playback and an internal Li-ion battery was the best available. But with a price tag of Rs 13,500, it was out of our budget.

Models from YES, another Korean maker, were also available, and the YMP-910 is charming. I found its price of Rs 6,200 for 256 MB a little expensive, but perhaps justified because of its exhaustive list of features.

The next shop had players from IT vendors such as MSI, Transcend and Umax, as well as some unbranded players. Since Transcend is a known player in memory, I decided to find out more. The Transcend T.Sonic 610 1 GB is available for around Rs 6,250, and the 512 MB version retails for Rs 4,950. The MSI MegaStick 512 MB was available for around Rs 5,500, but the AAA battery was a deterrent.

The sound quality of the players and the quality of the bundled headphones were a concern: unfortunately, no dealer here lets you listen to any of the players, so you can't make your decision based on what you hear-which is quite silly when you're talking about buying an MP3 player! Thankfully, since we've tested most of these players, I was able to keep calling work and checking with the Test Centre guys for the audio quality of the various models I'd been looking at.

After a lot of pondering, I decided to get Ram the Transcend T.Sonic 610 because it made for the best value for money. I managed to bargain and get the 1 GB model for just Rs 6,000.

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