With the $45 MP3 Starter Kit, the Juice Box can be expanded to play MP3 and photo files. The kit includes a USB SD/MMC card reader, a JuiceWare-style SD/MMC card adapter, a 32MB MMC or SD card (note the word or), a USB extender cable, and a software CD. Getting MP3s onto the Juice Box is a matter of dragging and dropping files using Windows Explorer. No drivers are necessary for the card reader in Windows XP or Mac OS X. You can also use the included Juice Box software to transfer files. Unfortunately, the Juice Box is limited to playing MP3s with a maximum bit rate of 128Kbps. This means your little audiophile is restricted to this common-but-mediocre file quality. So if your child's existing collection includes any near-pristine 320Kbps tracks, they won't play on the Juice Box. Our advice: If this is the case, get them one of these. The integrated MP3 Ripper software allows you to rip CDs at a maximum bit rate of 128Kbps and burn files to CD. You must use the Juice Box application to get photos onto your card. They are converted to proprietary JBP files and max out at 57K.
Once you have music and photo files on your card and you've inserted it into the JuiceWare card adapter, you're ready to turn your video player into a monster media machine. The screen offers you the choice of MP3 Player or Photo Viewer. In MP3 Player mode, you can play all, play random, or select a specific song, indicated by title and length. One minor quibble: You cannot forward or rewind through tracks, although you can set the Juice Box to autorepeat. In Photo Viewer mode, you can play all in slide-show fashion (delay can be set for as long as 60 seconds) or view individual photos and flip through them manually. Unfortunately, you can't view photos and listen to music simultaneously.
Overall, the MP3 Starter Kit can be a wonderful introduction to digital music and photography, so the extra $45 may be worth it. Just be aware that you'll probably spend about $140 on a set that includes the Juice Box, the MP3 Starter Kit, and a couple of cartridges. But if this keeps your kid quiet in the back seat of a car for an hour or so, isn't it worth it? Kids seem to like it.The Mattel Juice Box screen has a resolution of 240x160 pixels, supports 4,069 colors, and is surprisingly bright and colorful. Despite noticeable artifacts in the proprietary compressed video, it was extremely easy to watch with its frame rate of 15fps to 18fps. Even the built-in mono speaker was able to get the job done. However, we recommend using headphones, which will let the audio come through in stereo.
Navigation was smooth and bumpless thanks to the Juice Box's 32-bit 60MHz ARM processor. Transferring MP3s using the included media card adapter and the Juice Box software flowed at a decent 0.93MB per second, while the battery lasted more than 15 hours for music only and about 5 hours for video. All in all, this is impressive performance.