If you hope to survive against the reigning king of MP3 players, otherwise known as the Apple iPod Nano, you better have some jaw-dropping feature that makes you stand out. Unfortunately, while Haier America's latest offering, the HEC Video MP3 Player, puts a good foot forward with its solid sound quality and a very palatable price tag, its quirky navigation isn't going to do much to tempt prospective iPod buyers.
The overall style of the HEC Video MP3 Player isn't really a problem, though the shiny black plastic body with the faux-chrome back plate seems played-out at this stage in the game. It's not an eyesore by any means, but it does come off looking rather cheap.
The blue-backlit touch-sensitive controls on the face of the device are overly sensitive, causing problems. There are four arrow indicators in addition to menu and OK keys, but we found that touching the area around those last two had varied results; they're just not quite accurate.
Also odd: while navigating within menus, scrolling up and down is handled by the left and right arrows, while the up and down buttons continue to adjust volume. While we appreciate "dedicated" volume controls, it would make more sense to throw an extra toggle on the spine of the device.