We are entering an era in which we are afforded personal freedoms such as music and video wherever we want thanks to the information age. Music once stored in bulky CD players and music boxes are compacted into data-files and stored onto portable mp3 and wmv players for you to take wherever you want. But everyone's heard this introduction at least 50 times with other reviews so I won't bother finishing it up the traditional way since it'll just be a repeat. But going back and recalling the evolution of mp3 players, we notice 2 main differences. There is an increase in aesthetic qualities, and storage, also an increase in prices. The first mp3 player if you recall, was the Rio PMP300 which pioneered the portable mp3 revolution. There was some commotion on a copyright suit by the RIAA and that prevented other companies from releasing similar products, and therefore stepping on thin ice. But SonicBlue (then S3, who bought Diamond) was the sole company to release such a player and it was a huge hit obviously. When the RIAA lost the suit, it opened the floodgates for other companies to release similar players without a penalty. Then the evolution started, the connection methods drifted from parallel port to the USB port and SonicBlue still led the market with the Rio500 but with so much competition, lost shares to products from countless other companies. Mp3 players from then and now have added many new "standard" features such as a radio, microphone recording, USB connections, extra memory card expansion, etc… Of course all this added to the price of the players. The original Rio was $200 while the average price of the new players nowadays is $260. Aesthetically, the new players are very appealing to the eye and attract people with all of their snazzy features but when you take all of the unneeded features out, you're still left with a variant of the original PMP300. A good, sturdy player that gets the job done. Today, we are looking at such a player from Intel, it lacks the snazzy features but gets the job done very well at a very attractive price.
Intel is not a company known for their personal digital audio players as much as they are for processors and servers, but just like a giant, they know how to develop good products and make sure it works in the market. Intel has gained experience in this market by developing the popular Intel Pocket Concert audio player which is very high end and very expensive. Sure enough, if there is a product in the high end market, it never hurts to try to enter into the low-end market. Although I do not like calling the Personal Audio Player 3000 a low-end product, it was obviously designed for this market. I will not list the things that it has; I will list the things that it is missing. First of all, there is no lighted LCD display. The LCD display only displays the track number, no track name. This isn't a big deal because in my opinion, this was designed for the athlete to a certain extent, but I'll get more into that later. Other features such as radio tuner, voice recording, and rechargeable batteries are missing also. But it does feature very high volume levels and low distortion compared to other players. Also, it is one of the few players that I know that is powered by the USB port while it is transferring songs. It is known that mp3 players drain battery power when connected to the computer and transferring songs so this is a major step towards making the battery run longer.
Along with that comes a player that actually fits naturally in the palm of your hand, it's not too thin or too slim, it fits just right like a stress ball might. It's also coated with hard rubber-like material and it is very durable. Aside from the front faceplate holder, nothing else on this player seems like it's made out of plastic. It has a very good feel to it and no shaky or squeaky parts like we've experienced in the past from other players. On the back is a removable belt-clip for use on the run which just screws on and off. This is also a feature lacked by some players. The buttons on this player are arranged for easy access with one hand while holding it. When in your palm in your left hand, your index finger can hit the play/pause and volume controls while your thumb can toggle through the tracks and hit the stop button. The button lock switch is also near your thumb and can be easily moved. The only bad side with the buttons is that they are pretty small and they require more pressure to push that I'd like. It also has a button that does the usual repeat track, repeat all, etc…so you don't have to worry about that.
Also, this player comes with the ability to play .wma (Windows Media Audio) files along with mp3's. This is a good thing for some people because they can convert their 4mb mp3's into 2.5mb (average) wma files and still maintain the same level of quality. I found that converting songs to wma is a very good thing to conserve on filesize and fit more songs onto the player. Some might argue that converting the mp3 to 64kbps is the better alternative but a major loss of quality and fidelity is the product of a 64kbps mp3 file and the 96kbps wma file is a much better alternative.