Top critical review
16 people found this helpful
Tried hard to like this; some nice features; some pretty clunky
on February 16, 2018
I hate to start with a caveat, but feel I must, since I fell victim to it myself.
There are two models of this device, sold from the same Amazon page. The A01S, and the A01T. They look identical, but they are not. The S model lacks Bluetooth, has 16Gb internal memory, and comes without earbuds. The T model has Bluetooth, 8Gb of internal memory, and comes with buds. (Your guess is as good as mine, why the Bluetooth model has less memory...) I wanted it for the Bluetooth, but initially got the wrong model and had to send it back for an exchange.
Make SURE you know which model you've ordered! This is partly on Amazon, for not having separate pages, I think.
There should really be a multi-tiered rating system for multi-function devices like this one.
Here's how I would break it down:
Build * * * * *
Sound * * * * *
Features * * *
Interface * *
Ease of operation * * *
Which is overall about a 3-1/2 star rating.
* Very solidly built, all metal case; nice heft and hand-feel; few mechanical buttons or other doo-dads to break.
* I found the display adequate for the intended task
* All controls did what they were supposed to, once I figured out what that was (see below)
* The sound is excellent, both through wired buds, and Bluetooth headsets. Plenty of volume and plenty of bass to suit me.
* Plays multiple audio formats without issue
* Good battery life -- once fully charged I got 24 hours out of it, with no complaints.
* loading files is easy -- computer sees this as basically a flash drive, and you just drag-and-drop
* 128Gb micro SD card support provides plenty of capacity.
* includes extras: voice recorder; radio; photo viewer; video viewer
* Video only supports some weird "AMV" format that no video I have came in. NBD, since I wasn't planning on watching video on a 1" screen, anyway.
* The button to start voice recording is located on the side of the device, pretty much exactly where you would grab it to pick it up, if you didn't want to cover the display. Say what? Two out of every three times I pick this thing up, I end up accidentally starting the voice recorder. These buttons should either be recessed, on the front panel, or at the \top\ of the side panel.
* No AM radio; FM only. Not good if you're a fan of sports or talk radio.
* Menus are tedious, with multiple steps required for many functions that shouldn't require more than one or two button-pushes (like setting up an FM pre-set, each one of which requires six button pushes)
* content on the device is not integrated with content on the SD card in the interface -- it's like you're looking at content on two separate devices, except you can only view one at a time.
* Controls have multiple functions which are neither obvious, nor explained in the manual.
* The "manual" is pretty much useless -- looks more like it was written for a generic device, than specifically for this one, and it's only a few pages long anyway
* Display only allows for 21 characters is song titles, even with scrolling.
Give the way a lot of MP3 material is labeled, this is problematic. For example, the first movement of Beethoven's first symphony is typically titled is:
Ludwig von Beethoven--Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21, I. Adagio molto--Allegro con brio
On this device, this gets reduced to "Ludwig von Beethoven-"
Moreover, all four movements of the symphony will have the same title. Worse, Beethoven wrote nine symphonies: every movement of every symphony -- 37 movements in all -- will appear on this device with exactly the same truncated title.
Makes it a little hard to find a particular piece or movement.
* the real fall-down in the interface is the way songs are organized; basically, they aren't
- Songs aren't grouped into albums; just one long list for the device and another long list for the SD card
- Only three internal playlists are supported
- even these minimal organizational concessions go away when Bluetooth is activated.
A note on playlists:
The above problem could be mitigated if the device featured robust playlist support; alas, it does not. Playlists other than the three internally allowed must be created on a computer and ported over separately; you can't create them directly on the device. The software widely recommended to do this is "Media Go"; I tried it.
You can indeed create multiple external playlists and copy them on to the device. The problem is that copying the playlist \also\ makes a new copy of every file \in\ the playlist, \onto\ the device. If you have a tune already on the device, and you include it in two playlists (outside of the three provided with the device), then as far as I can tell, the file for that tune will exist on the device three times. This represents a HUGE waste of memory, not to mention a hugely inefficient way to run a playlist, which should ideally contain nothing but a list of pointers to files \already on\ the device.
I don't know whether this is a foible of Media Go. or of the device itself, but whichever it is, it seems idiotic.
The bottom line here is, if you put a lot of tunes on the device (I have over 3000), good luck finding the one you want, when you want it.
In my opinion, if they were only going to improve one thing about this device, it should be to devise a simple way to allow the creation of an unlimited number of playlists on the device itself. That would be a huge step in the direction of organization, Next to that, I'd say, make the interface less clunky -- but even that I could live with, if I could easily organize my songs into 30-50 playlists.
As it stands, I'd probably recommend this player for kids 12 or younger, because a) it seems very durable; and b) that age group isn't likely to put huge song libraries on the thing, so organization will be less of an issue for them.