The 1GB JVC XA-F107 (the 512MB versions are called XA-F57) is a sleekly designed flash-based MP3 player that would work for anyone seeking a compact and basic player with no frills. The player, which comes in black (XA-F107), gray (XA-F107H), or pink (XA-F107P); supports MP3, WMA, and WMA-DRM file types (purchased files only); and includes line-in recording. The XA-F107 and F57 don't have many secrets--what you see is what you get--however, the $150 and $100 list prices for the 1GB and 512MB version, respectively, are way behind the times, so bargain hunters, cross this one off your list.
The JVC XA-F series' size, its best asset, is a comfortable 2.8 by 1.6 by 0.68 inches and a slight 1.05 ounces, making it quite easy to carry around. The eight-button onboard controls and built-in menus are all intuitive and easy to use, although the player's volume controls seemed a bit cramped next to the headphone jack, making them difficult to access. Its backlit LCD is monochromatic and can at times be a bit tough to read. The LCD shows the usual assortment of information, including battery life, song and artist titles, EQ settings, track time elapsed, and volume. You browse songs using a folder tree; unfortunately, you can view only three items at a time, which makes scrolling through hundreds of songs a pain. The player has three tactile buttons on the face, which control playback, pause, advance, and previous-track selection; three smaller buttons on the top, which control the menu options stop/power off; and the record feature.
Shipping with a standard USB cable, standard earbud-style headphones, a line-in cable, a user manual, and a driver disc, the JVC XA-F series has everything you need to get started. Unfortunately, as with many flash-based MP3 players, the AC adapter is not included, so you are required to charge the player through the USB connection. The nonremovable, rechargeable lithium-ion battery was rated for 15 hours, but CNET Labs showed it lasting a subpar 13.5 hours. We've seen far better life from flash players; at least this battery is rechargeable.