Wolverine Data MVP
When you're talking about the little-known Wolverine Data MVP, you can't avoid talking about size. Available in 60GB ($400), 100GB ($500), and 120GB ($600) capacities, the MVP 9000 series offers more memory than most MP3 players on the market. Like an iPod, it plays video, audio, and image files from an internal hard drive and has a high-quality full-color display. Unlike an iPod, the MVP incorporates a multiformat memory-card reader and comes with a generous assortment of accessories, including a wireless remote control, a power adapter, and a carrying case with integrated speaker. Those features, combined with overall decent performance, make the MVP an OK contender for some users, but we wish it weren't so bulky. Physically speaking, it must be the biggest MP3 player in the world. Its lack of DRM support also seems to us like a glaring oversight at this stage of the game. Measuring 5.04 by 3.01 by 1.18 inches and decked out in a coat of glossy red, the bulky Wolverine Data MVP is reminiscent of a brick with an LCD. It's larger than an iPod in all dimensions and more than twice as thick, though its 2.5-inch-diagonal color LCD is the same size as an iPod's. Despite weighing 10 ounces, it looks like it would fare well in a hard fall, but we didn't want to tempt fate. Its fire-engine-red color and black side panels help give the device a playful but not high-end appearance. It's like a prop from the eighties.
A four-way keypad located on the MVP's front panel allows intuitive navigation of menu levels, file lists, and other features. An Escape button takes you back to the previous device mode, while the Menu button accesses various features, including playlists, the six available EQ presets (there's no user-programmable EQ), repeat one/all, and shuffle. A rocker switch on the left side of the device lets you zoom still images and adjust the volume.
Among the MVP's main-menu options are music, picture, and video icons that you select to drill down into the respective categories. In terms of interface design, the MVP's only significant drawback is that it doesn't filter by ID3 tags. As a result, you have to navigate music using the filenames and the directories under which files are stored on the unit. In other words, you can't browse music by categories such as artist, album, and genre. You can, however, arrange the music folders to your liking.
The MVP's connectivity includes a high-speed USB 2.0 port, a power-adapter jack, and three multiformat memory-card slots. Minijack video and audio outputs allow you to play the unit through your home-theater system, for instance. A minijack audio input for line-in recording rounds out the MVP's connectivity. The unit also has a built-in microphone for voice recording.
In the box, Wolverine includes a small, basic remote control with 10 blister-type buttons. Although you're unlikely to use the remote for portable applications, it's good to have if you connect the MVP to your home-theater system. The company also supplies a black hard-shell carrying case with a built-in speaker that's powered by two AAAs.Supported audio-file formats include MP3, unprotected WMA, unprotected AAC, and WAV. The Wolverine Data MVP also supports M3U playlists transferred from your computer and has an add-to-queue-type on-the-go playlist function. The absence of support for DRM-protected files will put off Internet-music-service users. In the video realm, the MVP plays MPEG-1 files at 352x288-pixel resolution and 30 frames per second (fps), as well as MPEG-4 and DivX 5.x/6.x files at either 720x480-pixel resolution and 25fps or 640x480-pixel resolution and 30fps. Unfortunately, MPEG-2 and WMV files aren't supported.
Given its large hard drive, multitude of card slots, and decent LCD, the MVP makes a good tool for storing and viewing digital photos. It can display JPEG, TIFF, and BMP image files as well as raw files from certain digital cameras. Although this feature is not listed in the specifications, the device is also able to display a nonanimated GIF file. You can configure the MVP to automatically stretch images to fill its entire display. It can zoom still images up to 4X and rotate them. Viewing a photo slide show with musical accompaniment required a few more configuration steps than we would have liked, but it was nonetheless a fairly quick and painless process.
The MVP can play media files directly from an inserted memory card or copy the files to its internal hard drive. Conveniently, when connected to a computer, the Wolverine doubles as a PC memory-card reader. Supported memory-card formats include SD/MMC, SmartMedia, CompactFlash, Memory Stick/Memory Stick Pro, MicroDrive, and XD. An optional adapter lets you use a few other memory-card formats.