Meizu may not have the familiar ring that Apple and Creative have to American ears, but unlike the other two, the Chinese digital audio company dedicates all of its resources to research and development of MP3 players, which probably explains why the Meizu Mini Player looked cool enough to attract the attention of the gadget industry earlier this summer. We've unfortunately come to expect that many MP3 players that look excellent on paper don't always turn out that way in actuality. So we were both pleased and surprised to discover that the Mini Player, which is available in either white or black at 1GB ($139), 2GB ($159), or 4GB ($219), is still quite likeable once you get your hands on it.
We'll steer clear of "iPod-esque," but the Meizu Mini Player certainly has that familiar minimalist look going on with a white body and metallic backside. At 1.8 by 3.1 by 0.4 inches, the unit is noticeably smaller than a credit card, though quite a bit thicker. It's also thicker than the iPod Nano, which we tend to think is a good thing, as it gives the device a sturdier feel. The face of the Mini Player is dominated by an ample 2.5-inch (diagonal) screen that's arranged in landscape mode, like that of the iRiver Clix. In fact, the interface of the Mini Player is also quite Clix-like, right down to the swirly solid-colored background display. It even comes with a couple of games.
To the right of the Mini Player's screen is the clickable touch strip (hmm, sound familiar?). The strip is highly responsive--so much so that it can be a tad tough to narrow in on your choice at times. Unfortunately, there's no sensitivity setting to adjust. You can either tap the center to make a selection or push in the tactile Enter key located at the bottom of the touchpad. Other functions such as previous track, next track, and menu are activated via the three other clickable sides of the strip (it bulges slightly at the sides where Previous and Next are). A Play/Pause/Power button on the top edge of the player and a Hold switch at the bottom round out the controls. The headphone jack, a mini USB port, and a lanyard jack can all be found on the right edge of the unit.