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    Ultra Products ULT31576 8-in-1 MP3 Player
    Author: jonnyGURU
    Date Posted:23/11/2004 18:52.57
    SLRating: SLRating: 8.5/10
    Bottom Line: If you need a portable MP3 player you could do a lot worse than the Ultra Products ULT31576 8-in-1. Its small compact and looks nice but what about data transfer and ear buds?

    Find the lowest price for this product
    Pages: 1 2 3
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    First Impressions

    On first impressions, the device is slick. Slightly larger than your typical thumb drive, it's blue hard plastic on one side, with silver buttons and graphics, and a rubberized black plastic on the other. The size is just over 3.5 inches long, 1.5 inches wide and about 3/4 inch thick. The display is a 128x64 pixel LCD measuring 1.5 inches long by .8 inches tall. The buttons are slightly recessed and consist of a power/stop button, a pause/play button and a joystick that controls volume, scrolls through MP3's or stations as well as scrolls through the menus.

    An end cap pops off of the left of the device to expose a male USB A-type connector. This connector can be plugged directly into a USB port or plugged into the included USB A-to-A cable provided with the device.

    In addition to the USB cable, one receives a pair of ear-bud headphones that are unique in that they are integrated into an around-the-neck carrying apparatus for the device, as well as a rechargeable AAA battery and an application CD. I refrain from calling the CD a "driver disk" as I've yet to need any drivers for this device.

    I've tested it in Windows 98, ME, 2000 and XP and the thumb drive and the MMC reader pop right up with drive letters. The only thing that didn't work consistently is the Autorun of the built-in e-mail client. After setting the e-mail client to autorun (something you can set once in the settings portion of the program) the e-mail would pop up automatically when the device was plugged into a 2000 or XP machine, but not a 98 or ME machine. No big deal. After a couple days, I found the autorun annoying and turned it back off. I'll touch more on the software and e-mail client in a bit.

    The ear-buds are ok. Although the more I use them, the more I want someone to buy me a pair of Shure ear-buds for Christmas. The ear-buds are better than a lot of other units that come with portable audio devices. When I first looked at them, I thought they were going to be painful as soon as I put them in my ear. They weren't. My ears only hurt after prolonged use (the hours and hours that went by testing the device and writing this review) and the dynamic range of the headphones, although undocumented, seem to be pretty good.

    The around-the-neck contraption isn't a bad idea, but there's room for improvement. There's a braided nylon rope that goes around your neck. The ear-buds are attached to this rope. At the end of the rope is a little silver disk that the strap of the device snaps into. I don't mind having the device around my neck, but sometimes you don't want it around your neck, but the rope isn't long enough to fit the device anywhere else, like a hip pocket or something! And then there's the snap that goes into the little silver disk. I couldn't get my device to stay snapped in. After struggling with it for a while, I ended up breaking it altogether. So now my device stays attached to the nylon rope only by the headphone jack. Oops!

    Once I installed the included battery, I plugged the device into my laptop's USB port and it immediately lit up just like a Timex Indiglo watch and displayed the Ultra logo. The device then told me the battery was charging and the light faded out. While the battery was charging, I was allowed to copy over my MP3 files. No special software was needed to do this. I just dragged and dropped files the way I would drag and drop files to any other thumb drive, and you can still use the device as an MP3 player and thumb drive simultaneously. The MP3 playback function of the device simply ignores any non-MP3 files. In fact, when I installed the MMC card from my Canon camera into the back of the device, it was given it's own drive letter and I copied MP3's over to it to co-exist with the JPG's that were on there from my camera. On playback, the device just blended those MP3's in with the MP3's copied over to the internal memory and the only indicator that it was playing an MP3 from the MMC versus internal memory was a little icon that said "SD" at the top of the LCD.

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    Article Navigation

    1. Introduction
    2. First Impressions
    3. Observations
    4. Conclusions

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