The settings menu includes some nice options for control freaks. For example, you can put the player into graphic EQ mode, which offers two snazzy options for viewing onscreen graphics that pulsate to the beat. You can also pivot the screen 180 degrees, make recordings at up to 128Kbps MP3, and adjust play speed. However, there is no on-the-go playlist feature, and you can't listen to music while you're viewing photos.
To view images or videos, you'll need to use the included conversion software, MJPEG Converter. It works tolerably well, although the controls are confusing. For example, if you're converting one image, the software can put it in the right Cube2 folder automatically, but if you're converting a folder full of images, you'll need to drag them over yourself. Converting videos didn't always work for us. WMV files converted fine, but MPEG files didn't. MobiBlu support supplied us with a multicodec pack, which they say will soon be available on the site and on future bundled CDs, which helped us convert some MPEGs, but not others.
The Cube2's screen is square, so it crops off the sides of images, and even crops a little off the top and bottom. You can scroll around to view the missing sections, but that gets to be a hassle. Viewing pictures or videos on the Cube2 is a fun novelty (the Cube2 looks like a miniature TV), but probably not something you'll want to do often. Otherwise, the Cube2's playback and radio screens are attractive and packed with info-- as we said, the navigating the player is the tricky part.
As an FM radio, the Cube2 is fairly staticky, but listenable. It has 20 channel presets, which you can load by hand or have the player set automatically. You can also record from the radio or create timed recordings. The voice recorder makes incredibly muffled recordings, so it's for emergency use only. We couldn't tell where the microphone was located, but talking into any part of the Cube2 produced a muffled sound.
You'll need to turn to the manual often, so it's too bad that it's so poor. It reads like a bad translation and offers arrow diagrams that curl confusingly around the page. It also skimps on important topics, going into few details on things like setting an FM recording. Podcast instructions are on a PDF file on the Cube2 itself.
The package comes with headphones, an unusual USB cable (it plugs in via the headphone jack, like the new iPod Shuffle), and a protective rubber case. As with the original Cube, the headphones force you to wear the player around your neck, suspended like a necklace pendant. It's irritating for those of us who would rather carry the player in a pocket, though you can of course use your own set.
The Cube2 is rated for 10 hours of music playback and 5 hours of video. We tested it with the backlighting on, so we could tell it was working, and got less than 6 hours of music. Using its standard testing methodology, CNET Labs got only 7 hours. Battery life, unlike with the MobiBlu B153, isn't the device's forte.
The Cube2 is a small player that gets big marks for style and offers a surprisingly rich set of features. While it's not the easiest device to master, it's a good thing in a very small package.