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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?

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    Pages: 1 2 3
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    Unfortuntely, data transfer was slow. Thank goodness it takes two hours to fully charge a dead battery because if it took any less time, I'd be afraid the files would still be copying over once the device was ready to use. The drive uses USB 1.1 technology, not USB 2.0. So despite the fact my Ultra was plugged into my ThinkPad's USB 2.0 port, it took nearly 5 minutes to copy over Pink Floyd's Wall, Wish You Were Here, Dark Side of the Moon and Meddle albums, a total of 220MB at 128kbps. That's a transfer rate of just better than .73MB/sec.

    Speaking of batteries, as I said it takes almost two hours to charge the included AAA. It's lasts 8 hours. Neither of these figures are bad because I don't see using this device for more than 8 hours straight, and finding a USB port to plug into for a quick charge is pretty easy. I even have a cigarette lighter USB charger in my work truck. But I've seen some reviews that claimed that they were getting 12 or more hours out of the device, so I tried killing the battery over and over again and each time, the device told me that the battery was dead and was shutting down after 8 hours. Knowing that in other devices, like my digital camera and cordless mouse, that rechargable batteries don't last as long as alkalines, I decided to try an Energizer AAA battery in the device instead of the included AAA. I found that even the alkaline lasted 8 hours.

    When the device is not plugged into the USB port (the device does not function as anything but a thumb drive or e-mail client when plugged in) and powered up, the device immediately jumps to MP3 mode. In the upper left of the LCD, it says ". Next to this is battery status, then track number, then track length. On the next line, the ID3 tag scrolls across. On a third line you are told the bitrate of the recording and what eq mode you are using for playback.

    If we hit the play button, the ID3 tag is replaced with any additional ID3 information (if available) or lyrics (if programmed into the ID3 tag.) The entire bottom of the screen is taken up with a bunch of dancing stick figures wearing headphones. Cheesy to the point of evoking a giggle.

    If I click the joystick down, I go to track 2. If I click up, I go back one track. If I click the joystick left, the volue goes down, and to the right, the volume goes back up. If I push down on the middle of the jostick, a menu with the choices of MP3 Player, Voice Player, FM Radio, Record, Setting and Exit comes up.

    When I switch to Record, the upper left of the screen switches from "" to "" and I can start recording my voice by speaking into the built-in microphone. Any files that were recorded in Record mode can be played back in Voice Player mode. Voice recordings are recorded in WAV format, but are very low, 32kbps quality so you can store alomost 17 hours on the internal memory. You are not able to store Voice Recordings on the MMC.

    In FM Radio mode, my screen changes to read "" and I'm presented with 8 presets and a tuning dial. If I click the joystick up, I tune up the FM band. Down and I go down the band. If I press the Play/Pause button, the presets flash and I can use the up and down of the joystick to scroll through presets. If I hold down the Play/Pause button, whatever station I'm on is saved as whatever preset I'm on.

    Tuning with the device was hit or miss. Stations that came in one day wouldn't come in the next and some stations that I get in perfectly in the car didn't come up at all on the Ultra while other stations came in perfectly. And my presets WOULD NOT SAVE. I would have all 8 presets programmed but then the very next day three presets worked and the other five didn't. This happened to me three times in a row. I gave up on saving presets. Maybe my device is somehow defective.

    In the Menu mode, I can choose to adjust the backlight timer, the backlight contrast, the menu language, I can erase tracks or format the memory stick and in MP3 mode set the eq to either Classical, Pop, Rock, Jazz, Bass or Normal and in MP3 or Voice Player mode set it to repeat tracks.

    If I press the power/stop button at the same time as clicking the joystick, I can lock the device. This prevents accidental power offs, track skips or any other annoying things that can happen if something or someone were to accidently bump into your device.

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

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