Fans of AM radio have largely been left out in the cold by MP3 player manufacturers. PoGo Products briefly came to the rescue with a line of AM-friendly MP3 players, but the company ceased production of the line after only a few years. Filling the void is the C. Crane Witness AM/FM MP3 Player, a basic radio-cum-MP3 player reminiscent of the Radio YourWay LX.
True to its AM radio roots, the CC Witness player has a simple, utilitarian design that feels sturdy in the hand. The case is matte black with a metallic sheen and silver trim wrapping around the edges.
The left edge of the Witness reveals a built-in mic, a line-in port, and an SD-card expansion slot--a necessity, given the paltry 2GB onboard storage
The right side offers up a dedicated volume rocker and hold switch. Two external speakers live on either side of the device as well, while a boatload of shiny plastic buttons deck out the front of the device.
The bottom side of the device houses the proprietary syncing and charging port as well as the standard 3.5mm headphone jack. The package includes a reasonably decent pair of in-ear style earbuds.
There's not much to the CC Witness's screen. It's only 1.8-inches diagonally, which is small, given that the player measures nearly 4 inches tall, 2.2 inches wide, and over half-an-inch thick. It's also monochrome, so you won't be seeing any album art or photos here. On the plus side, you can see the font quite clearly without the backlight engaged, and the menu options are simple: AM, FM, Files, Settings, and Timers. Music--accepted in MP3 format only--is organized into folders under the File menu.
Really, the CC Witness is an AM/FM radio and recorder at its core, while MP3 playback is a bit of not-so-tasty icing. Still, there are some limitations on the radio of the player, as well. Each of the bands only offers 10 preset slots, and the AM radio reception is practically nonexistent inside of buildings with plentiful concrete or metal. On the plus side, you can record from either AM or FM, as well as via the onboard mic or line-in jack.
In final analysis, our opinion of the C. Crane Witness AM/FM MP3 player is decidedly mixed. On the one hand, it includes an AM tuner and plentiful recording options, but the file playback is convoluted, which ultimately cripples the MP3 player aspect of the device. It seems more rational to just get a well-designed MP3 player and a separate portable AM radio, but if you must have the two wrapped into one--with all the recording trimmings you could want--the Witness fits the bill.