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Small Wonder

Looking for a cheap, reliable MP3 player that records voice well? Try the Panasonic SV-MP730V.

Sub-Rs 1,500 MP3 players are of two kinds the iPod Shuffle rip-offs and the vague Chinese makes from the houses of Aiptek and the like. One can’t really rely on these devices to be more than temporary, low-quality solutions to one’s need for an MP3 player that’s small, functions well, and is very cheap.

So imagine my surprise when I found a Panasonic MP3 player amongst the muck of Clip On Grate Buyy!! and Cheapest 1GB on eBay. At the outset it must be said that Panasonic is not really a major player in the portable music device market. Their foray in this segment extends predominantly to their set of headphones and earphones that are relatively cheap and durable. However, when one eBay seller claimed Panasonic 1GB MP3/FM player AT A PRICE NO ONE CAN BEAT I was inclined to give it a look-see.

My requirements were simple – a small MP3 player, at least 1GB memory, with a voice recorder. The Panasonic D-snap series, of which this particular device is a part of, was released in 2005. Now of course, that’s pretty ancient relative to the pace of development of portable media technology in the last five years, but with a price of Rs 1,250 (including shipping), a grayscale screen and a removable battery didn’t seem all bad.

The player itself is about as long as an average sized forefinger. It’s slightly heavier than the (original) 2GB iPod Shuffle, mostly because of the battery. The display is visible in daytime and in low light though the menu movement is a little sluggish, which can become an irritant, but then you remember you paid only about a grand for this (with the 10% eBay discount coupon of course). A lot of the flaws therefore are easily forgiven because of the low price. The player installs itself (Windows XP and Vista) without complaint or the need for any external software which is always great.

The quality of music reproduction is where this player stands out. The bundled earphones are pretty rubbish but that’s the case with most MP3 players. A decent set of in-ear earphones (Philips and Koss are great options if your budget is about Rs 1,000) will easily demonstrate the soundscape that this player can create. Just hit ‘3D Sound’ in the equalizer setting and immediately you feel like you’re watching a live performance. This does sacrifice some lows but the experience is great on a bus-ride or in a gym.

The voice recording function is also far better than the same function on those thumb drive format players from Transcend, Creative and the like (which are also more expensive). There are three recording modes and on an empty drive will store about 25 hours of recording on the highest quality setting. The player also allows you to record music off FM, which, for people who listen to FM, will come as a bonus.

If you can ignore the sluggishness of the menu (which, if you’re in a hurry, can be a pain) and some minor playlist sorting issues, this player is a great buy at the price.

– Arjun

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