Digital Global Network Dion DMX (128 MB)
The best aspects of the Dion's square design are its small, 2.2-by-2.2-by-0.7-inch size and low, 1.6-ounce weight. It fits easily into a hip pocket, but you should plan on buying your own headphones, as the included pair has a cord that's too short to reach from waist level to your ears. Clearly, Digital Global Network envisions people wearing the DMX like a stopwatch, using the included neck strap. But even walking with the player around your neck causes it to swing vigorously from side to side, making jogging nearly impossible. A belt clip--or even just a longer headphone cord--would have solved the problem.
While the headphone cord is an issue, it's relatively minor compared to our concerns about the player's flimsy construction. One oft-used button in particular--the switch that fast-forwards, rewinds, toggles between record and play modes, and summons up the LCD menu--feels like it could break at any time. Even worse, it got stuck in the up position a few times during testing.
Once you figure out what all the buttons do, the file-tabs design of the LCD-menu interface makes it easy to navigate and adjust settings. Still, don't expect to be able to pick up the DMX and understand all its features right away. We had to consult the manual on numerous occasions, even for simple tasks such as toggling between voice recording and MP3 playback.
Features and connectivity
After you connect the player to your Windows, Mac, or Linux computer with the included USB cable, the Dion DMX shows up in your file directory as an external hard drive. You move all data, voice, and MP3 files by dragging and dropping or copying and pasting them--or whatever is your preferred method of transferring files within your OS.
The DMX's strongest suit may be its feature set, as this player is packed with more amenities than other supercompact models. It has a great-sounding voice recorder; data-storage capabilities; a full-function clock that displays time on the LCD even when the unit is powered off; a user-configurable, dual-band EQ; a logo editor; and a bookmarking tool, which is especially useful for listening to audiobooks.
Once we figured out how to use all of the aforementioned features, they performed admirably, with the exception of the screen editor--we couldn't replace Digital Global Network's logo with our own.
The DMX could sound fuller, but it has decent, hiss-free stereo separation and a volume that cranks way up. Files transfer fast enough, although when you're moving only 128MB of info, transfer speed is perhaps not a huge concern. One AAA battery powers the DMX for 13 hours of playback--slightly less if you do some voice recording.
In the end, we felt a little ridiculous walking down the street with the DMX dangling from our neck, but if you have a particular proclivity for the Flavor Flav look, perhaps you'll appreciate this player's design. At $150, the DMX would normally be considered a decent value, based on its feature set and size. But its flimsy feel makes it hard to recommend, even at this price.