2005-07-23 MiniReview Tescos Technika mp3 player: Tescos, the veritable UK superstore everyone either loves or hates (I'm firmly in the /love/ camp) . . .

Tescos, the veritable UK superstore everyone either loves or hates (I’m firmly in the love camp) is selling an mp3 player for £20. That’s the price of just 2 CDs or a double album – at that price, it’s almost too tempting to resist. I expect Tescos to sell a cartload of these over the coming months. So if you want one, pick one up now before they disappear.

Stylewise, they’re quite neat looking, especially on the very nifty laynard/headphones that’s included in the pack. Inside the clear plastic cheapo packaging there is:

  • One 128Mb mp3 player
  • One AAA battery
  • One USB cable
  • One headphone/lanyard
  • One mini-installation CD which isn’t needed for XP or Linux, but is for win98
  • 3 headphone buds. Why three, I don’t know. Go figure

The MP3 player is preloaded with one demo track, and it’s actually worth listenning to, so it’s possible to get the thing up and running immediately.

The player uses all standard connectors, so any headphones will fit into the jack. The included ones look and sound surprisingly good though, so I see no real reason to change unless you really want a white set to look like an iPod wannabe. These are black.

When connected to a computer using the USB cable, the player is just treated like a standard drive. It’ll take any files, and play the mp3 tracks just fine. This means it doubles rather well as a key drive too, though you’ll need to carry the small cable around too. No great loss.

On my linux box, it’s considered to be /dev/sdb1. A quick

 mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt/mp3

and I was copying mp3s over chearfully.

In terms of use, the mp3 player’s only limitation is it’s storage size. For just £20 you get 128Mb capacity. That’s enough for 2 complete CDs, or around 30 tracks. Not a lot in these multi-Gig days, but certainly plenty to while away a few hours in the car or while out and about. It’s also an ideal size for streamripping purposes. More on this at a later date though.

Considering the incredibly low price point, the sound quality is excellent. I really cannot fault it. There’s a simplistic Equalizer hidden in the menu offering the usual batch of presets (Rock, Pop, Jazz, Bass, Classical, Normal), and all to their job very well. The Normal setting sounds a little light on the bass for my preferences, but the Rock setting is ideal. The bass through the included headphones is solid and well rounded, and the treble doesn’t pop at the high end either. The volume reaches ear splitting levels too, and fades nicely at lower levels rather than just disappearing completely around level three or four, as some other mp3 players I’ve used tend to do.

I’ve had mine too early to test battery life, though I’d expect pretty heavy use from a single AAA battery and tiny screen. The backlight only turns on for 5 (configurable) seconds when a button is pressed, and the controls can be locked to prevent the inevitable accidental key presses.

So, there you have it. An mp3 player literally for everyone. Give it to a kid as a birthday present. Preload with big band swing and shove one in your gran’s ears, load with the latest top 40 and you’ll be any hipster’s best friend.

Did I mention that it can record too?

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