Although we reviewed the $50 64MB model, the Micro MP3 Pro is also available in 128MB, 256MB, and 512MB capacities. The 256MB model represents the sweet spot; selling for just $90, it's nearly half the price of many 256MB players on the market.
At 4 by 1.2 by 0.9 inches, the Micro MP3 Pro isn't as tiny as its name suggests, but its backlit LCD spans only a quarter of its length. Onscreen text is easy enough to read, thanks to the sharp, high-resolution font, but we had difficulty making out the tiny icons across the top. Song names that are too long for the LCD scroll from left to right, but text becomes faint and harder to read while in motion. Furthermore, song name is the only bit of the ID3 tag the player displays--no album or artist info. All this could be remedied if Kanguru reserved more screen real estate on the player's ample body.
Most users will be able to operate the Micro MP3 Pro without cracking the manual. Its controls consist of nothing more than play/pause and volume buttons, a Hold switch, and a shuttle/mode rocker. There's also an A-B button for selecting and repeating part of an audio track. Onscreen menus and options are clearly identified and easy to navigate.
The player plugs directly into a USB port, where it's immediately assigned a drive letter for drag-and-drop file management, though you can also use Kanguru's simple and elegant Digital Audio Manager. Kanguru supplies a USB extension cable for tight or hard-to-reach ports. Speaking of USB, we were disappointed by two related design elements. The first is the USB cap, which is surprisingly hard to remove and doesn't fit back on unless turned the right way. The second is the USB interface itself: 1.1 instead of 2.0. It's not a deal breaker, but in this day and age, there's no reason not to support USB 2.0. It took exactly 100 seconds to copy 64MB worth of MP3 files to the player. That may not sound like much, but filling the 256MB model would take nearly seven minutes.
There's good news and bad news regarding the Micro MP3 Pro's audio quality. We thought the player sounded quite good overall, provided we used our own headphones. The supplied earbuds, which are part of a lanyard, sounded raspy and bass-less. Even worse, the hard plastic made them painful to wear for more than a few minutes.
For voice recordings, the Kanguru Micro MP3 Pro gives you a choice of seven sampling rates (from 8kHz to 48kHz), probably overkill for a device such as this but appreciable nonetheless. What we don't appreciate is the use of the uncompressed WAV format instead of MP3. At the middle sampling rate of 22kHz, a mere six-minute recording consumes a full 2MB of space. For what it's worth, recordings made at that rate sounded stellar as long as we didn't hold or touch the player (the microphone is sensitive).
Kanguru promises 15 hours of playback time from the Micro MP3 Pro's single AAA battery. In CNET Labs' drain test, the battery lasted just about 14 hours. Transfer times over USB came in at 0.74MB per second.