EnCross obviously intends the SR-M620F to be a wearable MP3 player; the headphones are built into a neck cord that slips into a hole at the top of the player. This might work if the player were somewhat smaller. At 3.42 by 1.2 inches and shaped like a giant lipstick tube crossed with a triangle, the player resembles the giant, gaudy jewelry of the '70s when worn as a necklace. If you want to carry the SR-M620F anywhere other than around your neck or in your shirt pocket, you'll definitely need new headphones, as the cord isn't long enough to reach anywhere else. Frankly, while the 1.4-ounce weight without the battery sounds tiny enough, by the time we threw in a AAA cell, even our tester with the 18-inch neck wanted the SR-M620F to go on a diet.
Like most flash players that come with a laundry list of features, the SR-M620F includes a jog controller for navigating through the LCD menus, and it puts the buttons on a different side of the case. Most buttons do double--and sometimes triple--duty. For example, the button used to delete files is the same one that switches the device to FM mode. Quality time spent with the manual will save you from searching for various features. Playlist mode, for example, is accessed from the Play section of the main menu and can be turned on or off. You create your single playlist from within the regular playback mode by scrolling through your files and selecting them one by one. To record a memo, you have to stop the song you're listening to, then hold down the record/pause button. If you don't stop the song, hitting that same button cycles you through the preset EQ designations.
The plug-in-style USB jack built into the device is offset, and though we could plug it into our notebook test bed, it wouldn't clear the edge of the case on our desktop PC. Thankfully, the player ships with a USB extension cable.
While audio playback is the SR-M620F's main feature, we found the players's onboard recording highly usable. The SR-M620F can record through its line-in jack; over an onboard mic, which does a great job dodging background noise such as air conditioning; or directly from the FM tuner, which includes 20 presets that you'll definitely want to use--changing stations involves a slow process of scrolling to the one you want.
We were surprised by the usefulness of the onboard speaker, in all its monophonic glory. It's certainly not loud enough for a dance party going, but it's perfect for sharing a recorded memo or an FM track with a friend. Set the onboard sleep timer, position the SR-M620F on the nightstand, and fall asleep to a quiet round of tunes.
The player also includes a memo function that displays names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses. You can access it by clicking down through the main system menu, and the info is transferred to the player via the bundled My Manager software. It's a cute feature and can store up to 250 names, but we wouldn't look forward to typing in all those names and numbers manually.
A decent set of headphones did wonders for the audio playback of the SR-M620F, bringing some detail and heft to the bass that the earbuds just couldn't deliver. More importantly, our fave Grado headphones didn't fall from our ears the way the bundled 'phones constantly did. Though CNET Labs found the player a little below average on the loudness test, the SR-M620F did an excellent job driving the big headphones. In fact, we turned down the bass on the custom EQ to tone back the low end from the player--unusual for a portable. The SR-M620F includes one user EQ setting and five presets, plus an adjustable 3D mode.
We were less impressed by the onboard FM tuner. Even the strongest stations tended to sound hissy when it came to cymbals and rhythm guitar. Weaker stations--including the ones we normally have no problem with on better FM equipment--were prone to static.
As we mentioned earlier, EnCross Enterprise's WaveX SR-M620F did a solid job recording memos. However, at seven hours, its battery life was less than exceptional, and we had to pack extra AAA batteries for a trip of any length. The USB 1.1 jack delivered average throughput at 0.48MB per second.