JVC's XA-A50CL Digital Audio Player
JVC's foray into the world of flash digital audio players is literally a flop. The distinctive clip-on, earphone-style XA-A50CL MP3 player desperately needs a makeover mostly due to an earpiece design that flops around, making it unusable during even moderate physical activity. Other annoyances range from the flimsy USB port cover, which broke off in less than 5 minutes of use, to its cumbersome name (try saying "XA-A50CL" quickly three times) to the annoying cord that connects the two earphones. Although promising in theory, this quirky, 128MB flash-based player needs more storage capacity; a better navigation system, although the existing voice-aided system is a neat idea; and most important, an improved method for securing the earphone to the ear.
The grandfather of this device is the headband AM/FM radio that joggers and sports fanatics alike wore during the '80s. The JVC XA-A50CL--which is made of black plastic with the right side measuring 1.8 by 2.1 by 0.9 inches, excluding the ear clip--is certainly lighter than its predecessors at just a hair more than 2 ounces, but its ill-conceived design makes it considerably less comfortable for workout warriors. In its press release for the player, JVC touts the XA-A50CL to be "especially well suited for active use," which, on the surface, is true in that the skipless flash-based player is enclosed in one of the headphones, leaving the user's hands free. However, in CNET field activity tests (jogging), the ear clip's overly flexible hinge caused the ear cup to flop around, irritating our participants. While the earphones sit comfortably on your ears, the fit is not snug enough for even mild physical activity, and making matters worse, the felt headphone covers soak up sweat. Despite the fact that the cord between the two earphones is necessary to get audio signals to the left earphone, as well as to prevent an earphone from dislodging and falling to the ground, it is an annoying presence.