We won't get into the choice of name, but Dell was wise to offer a low-cost, plug-in style MP3 player with the DJ Ditty (512MB). For $99, you get a basic player that supports WMA subscription music services and includes an FM radio, as well as an LCD, unlike the iPod Shuffle. For anyone looking for a gift for an MP3 newbie or a unit to use while working out, the Dell DJ Ditty isn't a bad choice. But for the same price, the iRiver T30 delivers a bit more flexibility.
Measuring 3.6 by 1.1 by 0.5 inches and weighing 1.3 ounces, the DJ Ditty is a bit on the long side, but it's still plenty small and light enough to slip into a shirt pocket or to use while at the gym. The monochrome LCD screen is little, of course, but that's no excuse for the inability to scroll ID3-tag information during playback. By default, the Dell DJ Ditty displays the song title, but you have to press the volume/scroll/select jog dial to view the artist's name, then press it again to see the album title. Otherwise, the design is simple, with a power/menu button on the face of the unit, playback controls and the jog dial on the bottom, and the headphone jack at the base. All of the controls are fairly tactile, and the streamlined menu options are easy to navigate. To spruce up an otherwise bland-looking device, Dell offers a series of colorful skin protectors and USB caps, though some colors don't match up well to the Ditty's body.
The Dell DJ Ditty supports MP3, as well as DRM-protected and subscription-based WMA files. The unit ships with Musicmatch Jukebox 10.1 (the first version under the Yahoo brand), but the software never recognized the device, even after we uninstalled and reinstalled the application. Fortunately, the DJ Ditty syncs easily with Windows Media Player 10 in the event you have similar problems. Other features include an FM radio and six EQ presets, though no user-defined option. Although we can live without playlist support in a low-capacity flash player, we would have liked the ability to view and select songs from a directory of music files. To find the song you want, you have to skip each track individually. At 512MB, the DJ Ditty holds enough music to make this a tedious process.
Music sounds fine with a pair of quality headphones. For a basic unit, the Ditty can crank up the volume with a set of full-size Koss UR-40 headphones. Its transfer speed of 0.93MB per second over a USB 2.0 connection isn't great, but it's acceptable for this type of device. What's unacceptable is the performance of the built-in rechargeable lithium-polymer battery, which charges only via a USB connection. Dell's rating of 14 hours was never awe inspiring, but CNET Labs got less than 9 hours of continuous playback.