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Best Buy's Insignia line of electronics includes everything from TVs to laptops to MP3 players, and the low prices reflect this "economy class" of products. Although the Insignia Sport NS-DA1G MP3 player isn't exactly a premium model, there's a lot to like about this particular player--especially at just $79 (1GB) or $99 (2GB). But while the audio quality is good overall and the craftsmanship is solid, competing players such as the SanDisk Sansa C200 series offer more for the money.
If the Insignia Sport is supposed to be for exercise nuts, the buttons are remarkably poorly designed, despite being extremely intuitive. The playback controls on the front are nearly flush with each other, making it far too easy to press the wrong one. I like the dedicated volume controls and hold switch on the sides, though, and you can conveniently adjust the orientation of the screen and controls for righties and lefties.
The nonslip coating on the back of the Insignia Sport gives the player a nice feel in your hand, and the device is small and relatively sleek at just 1.3x3.1x0.5 inches. The rechargeable battery pack is easily removable via the sliding back cover, and although the player's light weight (1.2 ounces) makes it feel cheap, it held up fine after several short drops. The 1.2-inch OLED screen displays text well, thanks in part to decent font choices, but it's pretty bad for looking at JPEG photos: colors are dark and the resolution is very low. At least it's fairly scratch-resistant. The package includes a clear vinyl soft case with a belt loop, as well as a USB cable, earbuds, and a software CD.
The menus on the device are a cinch to navigate, and you can browse your music via ID3 tags. The Insignia Sport supports playlists transferred via Windows Media Player, but you can't create them on the fly, which is a bummer. The FM tuner supports 20 presets and is reasonably strong, despite having a tough time with fringe stations. Conspicuously missing is the ability to make voice and FM recordings, though I like the A-B repeat option (for looping sections of a track), which is handy for learning music, lyrics, and languages.
The Insignia Sport doesn't require a software install and works with any MTP-enabled jukebox software, including WMP 11, or you can select File & Folder mode to use it with Macs. It can play MP3s and WMAs as well as protected downloaded and subscription content from online stores such as Napster and Rhapsody (not iTunes), though the player is designed to integrate best with Best Buy's version of Rhapsody.
The sound quality is better than I expected, and the included earbuds are adequate, but I'm definitely not a fan of the asymmetrical cables. I swapped out the included buds for Creative Zen Aurvanas and got far better sound, especially on music with a wide dynamic range like acoustic jazz and classical. Hip-hop and R&B definitely benefited from the custom 5-band equalizer, which is more effective than the handful of EQ presets. The battery pack is rated for 18 hours of music playback per charge.