iMedian M-Cody MX-100
It's getting tough for manufacturers to make their flash-based MP3 players stand out from the pack, but iMedian does a good job of it with its latest player, the M-Cody MX-100. Two features distinguish the iMedian M-Cody MX-100 from similar offerings: stellar battery life and the less practical but definitely curious ability to act as a (not quite) universal remote control.
The MX-100 looks like a typical pendant-style player. Sporting an all-white plastic case with silver trim, it's a shade larger and heavier (1.26 by 3.22 by 0.83 inches, 1.48 ounces) than some similar players, but we like the ultraslim sliding USB connector on the back of the unit. When you turn on the device, you're greeted with a six-line, 65,000-color screen that displays ID3-tag information, the current time, and EQ settings. Strangely, pressing the menu/navigation jog button lets you toggle through the device's music, record, and radio modes, while the Function button accesses menu options for EQ, display, play mode, and so forth. You get used to it, though, as all the buttons are located along the edges, and they're easy to access and operate.
The MX-100, which comes in 256MB ($155), 512MB ($195), and 1GB ($245) configurations, plays MP3, OGG, ASF, WAV, and standard WMA files. DRM-protected WMAs aren't supported, so you can't play music purchased from online stores such as Napster. Windows Explorer handles all file transfers via drag and drop. Windows 98 users will have to install drivers found on the included CD-ROM. The MX-100's firmware is upgradable, but you're required to format the drive when doing so, which eliminates all stored data.
You get Normal, Pop, Jazz, Rock, and Classical EQ presets, as well as two user-defined settings with a five-band slider; however, you must make custom EQ adjustments in a separate menu option. The player also includes SRS Wow and TruBass settings. Pressing and holding the Shuffle/Wow button toggles through SRS settings during playback. You can also adjust the sound for speaker size in case you want to boost the amplification for playing music through computer speakers, for example, as opposed to headphones. The MX-100 features an FM radio with 20 presets, including an autopreset feature. FM and line-in recording encodes MP3s at bit rates from 64Kbps to 320Kbps.
As noted earlier, the MX-100's most novel feature is its ability to act as an infrared remote control (the IR port is on the bottom of the unit). It currently supports LG and Samsung TVs, and you must download infrared data files to access this feature. We didn't have a compatible TV on hand, so we were unable to test this aspect. Though interesting, this capability may not be compelling enough to attract a wide audience.
Provided you swap out the included earbuds for a decent set of headphones, music sounds good with the MX-100, though we wished for slightly crisper treble response. With a headphone output of 20mW per channel, the volume gets adequately loud.
The most impressive aspect of the iMedian M-Cody MX-100 is its battery life. In CNET Labs' tests, the player averaged 37.6 hours of continuous playback from its internal lithium-polymer battery, outdoing the company's already impressive rating of 35 hours. On the downside, you can charge the battery only by connecting the device to your PC. Even worse, the player transferred files at a measly 0.97MB per second over USB 2.0.