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Jens of Sweden MP-500

Jens of Sweden MP-500

After Jens of Sweden filed for bankruptcy last year, we figured the company would be exiting the ultracompetitive MP3 player market for good. We were wrong. And frankly, I'm glad we were, because the company's latest flash offering is not only gorgeous but also seems perfectly poised to knock the iPod Nano off its high horse. The MP-500 is actually quite Nano-esque, though it packs in quite a few more features--and costs several dollars more. The black version is available in 1GB ($189.70) and 2GB ($242.54) capacities, while the Excentrique version can be had for $274.24 (2GB only). I couldn't find any info on whether this gold version had any carats--such as the 24-carat, $1,100 MP-400--but my guess is no, as it's not much pricier than the black version. Despite the MP-500's glistening, seemingly delicate exterior, Jens of Sweden asserts that the player is scratchproof. Also nothing to scoff at is the player's sleek and compact casing. At 3.2 by 1.6 by 0.5 inches and 1.8 ounces, the MP-500 is slightly shorter and thicker than the Nano, as well as a hair heavier. It's definitely pocket-friendly.

Beneath its rather eye-catching 1.6-inch screen, which is capable of displaying 260,000 colors, the MP-500 has what looks to be some intuitive, touch-sensitive controls. Play/pause, menu, and record keys sit above a five-way control pad, and there appears to be a hold switch and stereo speakers on the sides. The MP-500 isn't lacking in the features department either. It supports MP3, WMA, and OGG audio files, as well as MP4 video files. Jens even throws in a video transcoder for converting WMV, AVI, ASF, MPG, and MPEG files. The player also includes an FM tuner, an image and text viewer, and voice and line-in recording. Plus, it can act as a USB host so that you can save data directly from other USB devices, such as digital cameras. Finally--and this is really the icing for me--the MP-500 works with Windows, Linux, and Mac. Sweet.