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MP3 Players

Mcody M20: Chocolate for the MP3 market

Smaller and lighter than the iPod nano, with a screen like the LG Chocolate phone. Mmm, tasty...

Chocolate is all the rage these days -- that is, if you ignore the Cadbury's salmonella crisis and concentrate solely on the LG mobile phone design. The Korean giant's Chocolate phone seems to have inspired the designers at Mcody to create their own little piece of eye-candy.

The M20 has been released in two versions squarely aimed at the iPod nano clique. The 1GB and 2GB models are so well proportioned that you could be forgiven for favouring them over Apple's offerings. Although it doesn't have the iPod's Clickwheel navigation, it does have a sexy red touchscreen similar to the one on the Chocolate phone.

It's certainly smaller than the iPod nano -- it's 0.9mm shorter, 7mm narrower and 11.5g lighter, but is slightly fatter with an extra 0.6mm. Where it does fall down is its screen -- many MP3 players now have colour screens, so you may be disappointed with its monochrome OLED display. Also, it only has 11 hours of playback, whereas the nano can blast out 14 hours of audio heaven.

We like its FM tuner, which allows up to 20 preset stations. We also like the fact that it appears as a mass storage device on our desktop, letting us drag and drop music files. It even lets you record voice and audio as MP3s via the mini-USB port, but you'll need to buy a microphone.

One of the main downsides of the player is that it smudges as soon as it comes into human contact. After using it for only a few minutes we had to wipe off the smears to be able to see the display again, which was irritating.

The upside is that it's cheap -- while you'll have to shell out well over £100 to get a 2GB iPod nano, you can buy a 2GB M20 for £89 and the 1GB version for £69. Both versions of the M20 are available now from the Advanced MP3 Players Web site. -BJ