Despite some poor button layouts the WalkieMusic MP3 Deluxe is a great product for its price. The features work well and we really like the use of the 8cm CD-Rs and you can’t beat the price. If you need an affordable portable MP3 device to use on your way to and from work or school, then the WalkieMusic MP3 Deluxe will do an outstanding job.
Personal MP3 Players have been around for quite a few years now. Starting off as simple plastic devices from the likes of Creative, Thompson, and Diamond (Rio) that used mainly Compact Flash, Smart Media or recordable CD-ROMs (CD-R, CD-RW) as their storage media, MP3 players have come a long way. Today’s portable MP3 devices offer more storage, better quality manufacturing, more features and lower prices. Cy’Qve is a relatively unheard of newcomer, but they have introduced a new portable MP3 player that stands out from the pack. This WalkieMusic MP3 Deluxe is manufactured and distributed by M.E.T. Technology under the name of Cy’Qve, uses 8cm CD-ROMs for its storage media.
We’ll get into the detailed feature description below, but here’s a short list of features noted by M.E.T:
â€¢ Compact-size design for space saving and delivers excellent portability
â€¢ Supports multiple CD-DA and MP3 music formats
â€¢ Digital Graphic LCD Display for easy operation
â€¢ ID3 Tag integrated to show Track Name & Artist visibly
â€¢ The latest power-saving technology utilized provides amazing long-time playback
â€¢ Built with an extra Battery Recharging Circuit for extending playtime
â€¢ Excellent shock resistance; CD-DA: 120sec/MP3: 480 sec. featuring outstanding reliability
â€¢ Revolutionary Peer-to-Peer Repeat functionality and delivering Language-Learning utilities
â€¢ Equalizer and Searching functionalities employed to meet different music-play tastes
What makes the WalkieMusic MP3 Deluxe unique is its use of 8cm CD-ROMs for playback instead of the more common CD-R/RW, Compact Flash or Smart Media cards. 80mm discs are competitively priced when compared to CD-R/RW and much cheaper then Compact Flash or Smart Media. What’s great is that they are small enough to fit several discs easily into a jacket pocket or even the back pocket of your pants. It also means that the WalkieMusic is much smaller then similar products that use regular CDs for storage.
The WalkieMusic comes with a somewhat standard warranty of one year, with a 30 day from purchase warranty where they will replace any defective unit.
The accessories that come with the WalkieMusic include an AC Power Adapter, earphones, a carrying pouch, manual, InterVideo WinRip software, and five 8cm CD-R discs.
The 23 page manual does a decent job of explaining features and covers them in both English and Chinese. We don’t know about the Chinese, but the English grammar, spelling, & word choice is good. This is a relief after reading through some poorly translated manuals. The manual includes chapters covering contact information, warranty information, package contents, specs, operating instructions, maintenance, troubleshooting and a small Q&A chapter covering topics such as “What is MP3?”. The most important chapter is the operating instructions, since some of the button labels on the WalkeMusic devices are not intuitively named (like “A-B”). However, the manual does not explain some of the features sufficiently and leaves us still pondering what they are. For example, we could not find the concept of “Language Learning Utilities” anywhere in the manual even though it is specified on the box as a feature. Fortunately, there is a quick start and a more detailed section of the manual that explains the use of most of the features.
The WalkieMusic MP3 Deluxe would probably not be considered a good looking device by most people. The unit we received was purple and silver in color and not overly appealing. A search of their site did not reveal if there are other colors available. The controls are usable if you are holding the player in your hand facing you, but you must use two hands to easily access all of them easily – a huge drawback. The volume dial is embedded deep in the device as well and is right next to the headphone jack. This makes it especially difficult to use for someone who has large fingers. The case seems heavy for its size, even though it is made out of plastic. The weight gives it a sense of quality construction, although we doubt it would fare well if dropped from the waist. The LCD is somewhat small as well, showing 2 rows and 12 characters per row. The top row shows the track information while the bottom shows folder number, track number and elapsed time. There is a 3rd row to show the status of the different settings and modes. Unfortunately the LCD is not backlit. This means that although you can use this device at night and navigate tracks by “feel” of button placement, the LCD is unreadable.
One nice benefit of the WalkieMusic MP3 Deluxe is that it includes two Nickel-Hydrogen rechargeable batteries (although you can use Alkaline if you so choose). But the real benefit is that when you plug the WalkieMusic into the wall using the power adapter it recharges its own batteries.
The earphones that were included have a volume jog dial and a clip. However, like most earphones bundled with products, the sound quality is not that great – neither clear or strong. Even full volume would not invoke a cringe – although the sound is extremely distorted at that level. We would recommend buying good quality headphones. We used some Sony MDR-V200 headphones and the sound quality and volume improved dramatically. Yet even with these, distortion was evident at higher volume levels.
Discs are inserted into the player by pushing a latch button to the right, causing the top of the player to flip up. This is extremely difficult to do with one hand, making it impossible to switch discs quickly while on the run.
On the front of the player, below the LCD, are the basic controls of playback: Previous/Rewind, Stop, Play/Pause and Next/Fast Forward. These perform as expected. To the left of the LCD are the Mode and EQ buttons; on the right, ESP and A-B buttons. On the right side of the unit you will find the volume dial, headphone jack, and Charge button. The AC Adapter plug and the Hold button are on the left side.
The features to note: The equalizer had 5 modes: Normal, Pop, Classic, Jazz and Rock. None of them improved the sound much. We used the Normal EQ setting the most since its sounds similar to having a “Loud” button. Classic sounds a little muffled, Pop is a little less muffled with vocals being prominent, Jazz has increased high ends, and Rock suppresses the lows while increasing the high end.
ESP: If you are playing from an MP3 CD then ESP is always on. In this case, the ESP button acts as a navigation button, allowing you to navigate through folders or files. For CD-DA CDs, you can turn on and off the ESP using the ESP button. However, when doing so there is a pause in playback. For CD-DA, the ESP time is 180 seconds, VCDs: 240 seconds, and MP3 CDs: 480 seconds for 128kbps files. When playing MP3 CD’s, we did not get any skips even when shaking the device violently – much more so then it would get when jogging. However, with an audio CD, it’s extremely easy to skip. One small shake causes severe skipping within seconds.
You can set repeat playback between two different points on the CD using the “A-B” feature. This feature is also called “peer-to-peer A-B repeat” in the manual. Using this feature, you set a start and stop point within the CD to repeat. From this we gather that if you playback a language learning audio CD, you can set a track or lesson to repeat until you hit the A-B button again, allowing you to learn the language easier, thus it could be considered a “Language Learning Utility”.
The when the Hold button is set to on, it disables all the other buttons on the device. This is handy when you have the WalkieMusic in a backpack, pocket or other place where it might get bumped a lot.
The Mode button is also a multi-functioning button. In the play state, the Mode button allows you to change the different play modes: Repeat One, Repeat All, Repeat Dir (folder), Intro, Random, Random All and Random Dir. The Mode button sets the Program mode when in the idle state, enabling you to program a playlist of up to 32 tracks.
ID3 V2 and V1 tags are supported, along with VBR (Variable Bit Rate) and CBR (Constant Bit Rate) tracks. When the ID3 information is displayed, the text scrolls from right to left across the screen, showing Title, Artist and Album.
CyQ’Ve claims that playback time can last up to 15 hours on one charge. The first time charging the batteries can take anywhere from 8 to 12 hours, but less for subsequent charges. Our experience was getting a 3 hour playback with 4 hours of charging – not bad.
Many will not find the carrying case especially useful. It’s made out of soft plastic and cloth. There is a clear plastic portion, but it displays the logo instead of the LCD and buttons. The sides of the carrying case are open except for a small elastic band. You can open the case to swap CD’s, but other then that there is no functional purpose for the carrying case. It wouldn’t protect the device well if you were jogging in the rain or spilled something on it. Its only function is to allow you to put the device onto your belt. Most would likely not use the carrying case and just put the WalkieMusic into their jacket pocket or backpack.
Using 8cm CD-R’s is a great idea for an MP3 player. Not only are they cheap to buy (about $20 US for a spindle of 50) but they are extremely easy to carry around. You can find them at most local mega-computer stores like CompuUSA or just order them online. Using CD-RW’s is even better since you can use them just like a memory card and erase the contents and write new songs whenever you please. The drawback is that playback can skip, the CD’s can get scratched, and a higher risk of breaking a moving component needed for CD playback.
The WalkieMusic MP3 Deluxe is an interesting product. It’s convenient to be able to purchase 8cm discs fairly cheap, especially when compared to other mediums like the Memory Stick, Compact Flash and Smart Media cards. It also allows for the player to be smaller then a normal CD-ROM MP3 player. The WalkieMusic MP3 Deluxe is priced extremely competitively as well at around $99 – 119 US. It also has the standard features found with most other players, along with some enhancements such as folder support and some extra Random and Repeat features.
However, there are some physical design flaws, such as the volume dial being set to far in and right next to the headphone jack making it difficult to use. Plus in most circumstances you need two hands for operation. The carrying case doesn’t offer any benefit or protection other then being able to clip the device to your belt. There is nothing to protect the device against liquid or impacts. The LCD is small and not backlit, again hindering its use somewhat. The ESP (Electronic Shock Protection) is great for MP3 CD’s, but doesn’t prevent severe skipping on CD-DA CD’s under light abuse. The “peer-to-peer” feature is something we have not seen on any other device, but do not see an every-day use for it. It can be useful for people who need to listen to something over and over again in a set time interval, which could be conveyed as a language learning tool.
All in all though, this is a great product for its price. The features work well and we really like the use of the 8cm CD-Rs and you can’t beat the price. If you need an affordable portable MP3 device to use on your way to and from work or school, then the WalkieMusic MP3 Deluxe will do an outstanding job.