Kanguru's affordable plug-in player
There's nothing about the Kanguru Micro MP3 Pro you haven't seen before. It's a standard-issue plug-in MP3 player, albeit one that supports protected WMAs and doubles as a voice recorder. It's plenty attractive, with sleek curves and shiny silver lines. While there's nothing particularly exciting about its feature set, the Micro MP3 Pro does have an exciting price. Bargain hunters, your flash player has arrived.
Although we reviewed the $50 64MB model, the Micro MP3 Pro is also available in 128MB, 256MB, and 512MB capacities. The 256MB model represents the sweet spot; selling for just $90, it's nearly half the price of many 256MB players on the market.
At 4 by 1.2 by 0.9 inches, the Micro MP3 Pro isn't as tiny as its name suggests, but its backlit LCD spans only a quarter of its length. Onscreen text is easy enough to read, thanks to the sharp, high-resolution font, but we had difficulty making out the tiny icons across the top. Song names that are too long for the LCD scroll from left to right, but text becomes faint and harder to read while in motion. Furthermore, song name is the only bit of the ID3 tag the player displays--no album or artist info. All this could be remedied if Kanguru reserved more screen real estate on the player's ample body.
Most users will be able to operate the Micro MP3 Pro without cracking the manual. Its controls consist of nothing more than play/pause and volume buttons, a Hold switch, and a shuttle/mode rocker. There's also an A-B button for selecting and repeating part of an audio track. Onscreen menus and options are clearly identified and easy to navigate.
The player plugs directly into a USB port, where it's immediately assigned a drive letter for drag-and-drop file management, though you can also use Kanguru's simple and elegant Digital Audio Manager. Kanguru supplies a USB extension cable for tight or hard-to-reach ports. Speaking of USB, we were disappointed by two related design elements. The first is the USB cap, which is surprisingly hard to remove and doesn't fit back on unless turned the right way. The second is the USB interface itself: 1.1 instead of 2.0. It's not a deal breaker, but in this day and age, there's no reason not to support USB 2.0. It took exactly 100 seconds to copy 64MB worth of MP3 files to the player. That may not sound like much, but filling the 256MB model would take nearly seven minutes.