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At 3 by 1.2 by 0.7 inches and a featherweight 1.3 ounces, the blue-and-silver, flash-based WV-430C is ideal for using while working out. The Y-shaped design is a bit unusual, but it helps provide a better grip and allows for easy one-handed control. The vibrant 65,000-color screen adds a bit of pizzazz and displays ID3 tag information. While you can display JPEG photos on the tiny 96x96-pixel screen, there is no support for album art. A five-way joystick near the bottom of the unit lets you navigate, adjust the volume, and select menu options.
An internal lithium-polymer battery powers the WV-430C, but, unfortunately you must charge it through your computer's USB port. For PC connectivity, the device comes with a USB cable and a removable plug, allowing you to use it as a de facto plug-in player. Unlike most plug-in units, the WV-430C fits nicely alongside occupied ports.
Windows Explorer handles most file transfers to the WV-430C. Along with MP3s, the player supports Ogg Vorbis and DRM-protected WMA files purchased from online music stores. In order to play protected WMAs, however, you have to transfer the tracks with a compatible jukebox application such as Windows Media Player or Musicmatch--Windows Explorer won't transfer the license to the player. Unfortunately, there's nothing in the manual that explains this to novices.
For playback options, you get six EQ options: Normal, Classic, Jazz, Rock, Pop, and a user-defined mode with a five-band EQ. You can also add SRS, TruBass, and WOW effects. Clicking the EQ/Rep button on the unit's right spine lets you toggle through EQ options without wading through the menu.
The WV-430C supports voice, line-in, and FM recording. You can encode line-in and FM recordings as MP3s at bit rates from 48Kbps to 192Kbps, while voice recordings support 16Kbps or 32Kbps. The AutoSync recording function is a bit of a misnomer, as it doesn't automatically begin recording when the source audio begins. Instead, it automatically inserts track breaks from line-in recordings, which makes it much easier to encode an entire CD. The player also features an internal clock and alarm that you can use to schedule FM recordings. Recordings sounded clean with no distortion. You can set up to 20 FM presets either manually or with the Auto Frequency Store function, although the AutoScan feature did a poor job of detecting local stations.
Playback quality is very good, if a little bass heavy, thanks to a clean 95dB signal-to-noise ratio. (Most players in this category top out at 90dB.) Although the headphone output of 12mW per channel doesn't seem impressive, we found that the player could crank music at a pretty high volume on a set of full-size Koss UR-40 headphones.
In CNET Labs' tests, the player transferred tracks at a speedy 2.29MB per second over a USB 2.0 connection. Battery life was an unimpressive 10.5 hours, well short of the company's rating of 15 hours of playback on a single charge.
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