No beating around the bush today: it surprises us that a product can be this poor. The definitive antithesis of quality, the Sonix7 Media Pro is pitched under the assumption that British is better. Frankly, if this is the best we can do, we deserve an imploding economy and a government that can't function.
The Media Pro is a thick, black, weighty touchscreen audio and video player. Not a single person on the Crave team could muster anything more than disbelief as they fumbled their way around the impossible interface. In fact, after 10 minutes, ZDNet UK editor and tech veteran Rupert Goodwins could only comment, "Good God, this is the Media 'Pro'? I'd hate to see the basic model!"
So let's break it down. £105 will get you a 16GB model, which while unfathomably disproportionate to its ability to disappoint even the most optimistic of us, represents good value in terms of pounds to gigabytes -- but even then, not really: the infinitely superior 16GB Creative Zen is available for a smidgeon under £100. Additionally, the Media Pro's support for extensive media formats (from MP3 and AAC, to FLAC and even MIDI), is admirable. It's got a digital camera for some reason, too. All plus points.
But even if you get past the repugnant design, the unfathomable, unresponsive menus, and the sheer disbelief that any manufacturer would pitch this as a superior alternative to a Walkman or an iPod, decent-gigabytes-for-your-money claims can't save this haggard behemoth from death by fail.
Take, for example, navigating the music menus. You would think tapping the artist or album you want to listen to from a list would take you to that item. Don't be utterly ridiculous -- that would be intuitive. No, instead you're required to touch certain invisible, unlabelled areas of the screen to browse. We resorted to having to look at the instruction manual to figure out this fundamental function, and have yet to work out how to adjust volume. Apparently pressing the 'up area' or 'down area' of the screen changes volume, though it seems to just restart the current song from the beginning. Oh! You have to hold the up or down areas. Well that only took two days to work out.
Absolutely, buying this is supporting Britain more than an iPod. It's a strong sentiment. It also offers numerous features that on paper seem impressive. But the proof is in the eating, and this is pudding better off spat out -- it's appallingly executed, and speaking as people who have seen and reviewed almost any media player you care to name, it's getting filed under 'British disappointments: Key examples'.
Incidentally, keep your eye on the questionably positive 'reviews' its homepage links to. Try and find one that mentions actually having used this device. Can't find one? Funny that. But don't worry, you can bookmark this article, as you'll likely never see it up there.
Pics over the page.
The main menu. Woe betide you if you want one of those menu items at the back -- you'll have to scroll slowly through every single item to get there.
Instructions for use, printed inside the packaging. This is almost certainly a manufacturing error, and not intentional -- the words should probably be on the outside of the box. However, it just forces us once more to ask, is this the best we can do?
The Media Pro from the right-hand side.
The base of the system, highlighting a mains socket and mini-USB connector.
The camera is an interesting feature, and can record video as well as still images.