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Disney Electronics Mix Stick review: Disney Electronics Mix Stick

Simple and colorful, these basic plug-in-style players are good, clean MP3 fun.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
3 min read
Disney Electronics Mix Stick MP3 Player
Why should grown-ups get to have all the MP3 fun? The Disney Electronics Mix Stick, a surprisingly inexpensive, kid-friendly audio player, is sure to satisfy youngsters clamoring for their own music. Available in four colorful, Disney-themed styles, the $49.95 Mix Stick offers 128MB of storage for MP3 and even protected WMA content. It also includes an SD/MMC slot for storing more tunes or listening to one of Disney's preloaded, plug-and-play music cards, known as Mix Clips.


Disney Electronics Mix Stick

The Good

The Disney Electronics Mix Stick is a colorful, kid-friendly MP3 player that can play protected WMA files. Available in four designs, the inexpensive player has a convenient plug-in-style design, as well as a memory expansion slot to complement the built-in 128MB of memory.

The Bad

The Disney Electronics Mix Stick has mediocre sound quality and ships with earbuds that are not suitable for small people. Also, there isn't an LCD or a hold switch, and the wide design makes for a difficult fit in some USB ports.

The Bottom Line

The Disney Electronics Mix Stick, an affordable MP3 player for kids, looks cute and has more features than you'd expect, but the adult-size earbuds will frustrate little listeners.

The Disney Electronics Sassy Pixie Mix Stick next to the 4G Apple iPod.

The four Mix Stick styles--Princess, That's So Raven, Tinkerbell, and Chrome--suggest a target audience of ages 5 to 12; we suspect most teens will have their eyes on iPods. There's no question that most of the styles were designed with girls in mind, though Chrome is fairly androgynous. Because it's a Disney product, it should come as no surprise to find Mickey Mouse-shaped controls--a cute touch. Kids will master them in no time, though the lack of a screen is unfortunate. As with players such as the iPod Shuffle, the only way to find a specific song is to cycle through the library.

Also like the Shuffle, the Disney Electronics Mix Stick was designed to be worn around the neck with an included lanyard. Similarly, it plugs directly into a USB port for battery charging and file transfers. Because it's such a wide device, however, it may not fit into some ports, and Disney doesn't supply an extension cable.

The integrated USB is nice, but the Mix Stick's wide body may not fit in tight places.

You'll need Windows Media Player 10 to copy DRM-protected WMAs to the player, but you can drag and drop MP3s and other files. As for Disney's Mix Clips--CD-length song collections, mostly from kids' TV shows, on MMC cards--there are currently three to choose from, all reasonably priced at $14.99. We got grooving to the Lizzie McGuire theme song on Disney Channel Hits one too many times. If you're a really cool uncle or aunt, you can add the Disney Electronics Jam Stand ($40), a set of speakers styled to match the Mix Stick. The speaker system doesn't sound that great, but it does recharge the MP3 player (battery life for the Mix Stick is about 8 hours) and flashes colorful lights as the music plays.

The $40 Jam Stand works with the Mix Stick (Chrome version shown).

The Disney Electronics Mix Stick suffers from a handful of minor problems and one major one. Music sounds flat, which isn't a deal breaker; young ears aren't particularly discriminating. We also found file transfers to be quite slow, despite the USB 2.0 interface. Again, this is minor--with only 128MB to fill, waiting a few minutes is no big deal.

The only real problem with this otherwise nifty jukebox for Junior is the earbuds. They're standard size, meaning they're too large to fit comfortably in the ears of the Disney Electronics Mix Stick's intended audience. Our 6-year-old test subject quickly became frustrated because the 'buds kept falling out. Kids don't have Mickey Mouse-size ears, so Disney should have supplied more child-friendly headphones.