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The Memorex MMP8640 ($120) is a 4GB MP3 player with an above-average list of features, including video playback, voice recording, and an FM tuner. In this price range, however, the Memorex MMP8640 just can't stand up to the competition.
The Memorex MMP8640 is neither exceptionally small nor thin, measuring 1.8 inches wide by 0.5 inch deep by 3.3 inches tall. Navigation on the Memorex MMP8640 is controlled by a basic four-way control pad on the face of the player. While the navigation controls are useful and responsive, the record and volume buttons placed on the side of the player are too easy to press accidentally. In fact, our staff photographer unwittingly created a two-minute recording of herself in the process of shooting the photos for the Memorex MMP8640.
The Memorex MMP8640 feels natural in your hand or pocket. The semi-opaque plastic used to construct the Memorex MMP8640 feels cheap, however, with a quality that is closer to an action figure accessory than a repository for your beloved music collection. One of the more novel design features on the Memorex MMP8640 is multicolor LED lights embedded within the navigation pad, which can be set to shine red, blue, cyan, green, gold, or purple. While the concept of a color-changing MP3 player appeals to our moody sensibilities, the gimmick quickly wears thin.
The Memorex MMP8640 might not be much for design, but it does boast a 1.8-inch color screen with a brightness setting that provides an above-average range of control. The Memorex MMP8640's graphical user interface is nothing to scream about compared to that of an iRiver Clix or an iPod Nano, but it is easy to read and intuitive to navigate.
Within the contents of the Memorex MMP8640's box is a CD-ROM loaded with a handful of applications. Beyond the customary copy of Windows Media Player and a video conversion application, Memorex includes a unique program named MusicIP Mixer. By installing the MusicIP software and allowing it to analyze your music library, the Memorex MMP8640 can create intelligent playlists based on a complex set of data that goes beyond grouping songs together by genre and tempo. While we like MusicIP's advanced DJ-like playlist function, it is unfortunately trapped within a device that is otherwise mediocre.
The Memorex MMP8640's music player supports MP3, WMA, and DRM-protected WMA music formats. You can transfer music onto the Memorex MMP8640 using either a Mac or PC, or by loading music using the MiniSD card slot. Video playback requires you to convert your files using the included MediaCoder application before transferring the files to the Memorex MMP8640. We found the process of converting and transferring videos to the Memorex MMP8640 relatively swift and painless.
The FM tuner on the Memorex MMP8640 provided average reception around the office and allows as many as 20 radio station presets. You can also use the Memorex MMP8640 to record FM radio broadcasts, although the recordings are made as WAV files instead of the more useful MP3 format. We found the recording quality of both the FM and voice recorder to be more than adequate for general use.
With outstanding MP3 players such as the iPod Nano, the Creative Zen V Plus, and the Sony NWZ-A818 so close in price, the Memorex MMP8640 would need to really blow us away with its audio quality, video resolution, or battery life. Unfortunately, the Memorex MMP8640 falls short of its competition by every measure. The audio quality of the Memorex MMP8640 is by no means bad, but we've heard better results from MP3 players for less than half the price. The high-hats from David Bowie's "Suffragette City" had a slightly hollow, wishy-washy quality to them and the upright bass opening to John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" lacked fullness compared to the Cowon iAudio 7. Five EQ presets found on the Memorex MMP8640 help things along, but we were disappointed to find that the custom EQ only offered treble and bass adjustment instead of a full-fledged five-band EQ.
The video quality of the Memorex MMP8640 is surprisingly bright and colorful, despite some poor viewing angles. Videos display in a landscape orientation, requiring you to hold the player sideways. What really holds the Memorex MMP8640 back from being a viable video device is an inability to bookmark or resume long video files.
The Memorex MMP8640's battery performance is about what you would expect from a Flash MP3 player of its size. In our CNET labs, the Memorex MMP8640 was able to squeeze out 24 hours of audio playback and 4.5 hours of video.
The Memorex MMP8640 is not a bad product--just unremarkable. Considering that you can grab the new Creative Zen for around the same price, or an iPod Nano for an additional $30, I can think of no good reason to recommend the Memorex MMP8640. Even at half the price, the Memorex MMP8640 suffers from poor button design and toylike construction quality.