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This CD/Walkman-inspired MP3 player aims to be the next mixtape

The Ninm Lab Playdisc.
Ninm Lab

Ninm Lab is obsessed with retro gadgets, from cameras to cassette decks, and its latest project — the Playdisc — reimagines the humble MP3 player as a digital version of the mixtape (or mixed tape for those old enough to remember the 1980s). The Playdisc will initially debut on Kickstarter on April 25 with a backer price of about $50. Once deliveries begin, which Ninm says will be in August, the devices should be available on the Ninm Lab site for around $71.

The Ninm Lab Playdisc.
Ninm Lab

The Playdisc looks like CD case, complete with a transparent, hinged plastic cover, but its overall dimensions are smaller and thicker. You can use it with any Bluetooth headphones, and there’s a 3.5mm jack for wired headphones too. It even ships with a set of wired earphones that take their inspiration directly from Sony’s original Walkman and feature interchangeable foam earpads to complete the mashed-up retro look.

The Ninm Lab Playdisc.
Ninm Lab

Inside, there’s 4GB of storage that can be loaded up with a variety of digital music files from a computer over a USB connection — it supports most major formats including AAC, ALAC, APE, FLAC, MP3, WAV, and WMA. The internal rechargeable battery is good for a claimed 5 hours of playback when using Bluetooth, or up to 7.5 hours when using the wired output. Charging takes approximately 2 hours.

Without a screen, the Playdisc works just like an Apple iPod Shuffle: You can choose to play songs in the order they were loaded, or you can engage a shuffle mode for a totally random experience. Skip forward and skip back buttons (which double as volume up/down buttons) let you move on if you’re not vibing with a particular track.

The Ninm Lab Playdisc.
Ninm Lab

In keeping with the mixtape mood, the Playdisc ships with a collection of stickers that you can use to personalize the device. And just like with a standard compact disc case, you can swap out the factory cover art with whatever you want.

As fun as it is to imagine people trading preloaded Playdiscs with each other the way we used to do with cassette tapes, at $70 per Playdisc, you’ll be investing both time and money into the activity. Then there’s the question of the songs themselves. Unless you buy music downloads, there’s no way to legally grab tracks from music streaming services that can be used to load the Playdisc. Your only other alternative is to buy physical media like CDs and vinyl and transfer them to your computer.

As with all crowdfunding projects, we strongly encourage you to consider the risks. That said, Ninm Lab has an excellent track record with its projects.

Simon Cohen
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like spatial…
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