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MobiBlu DAH-1400 review: MobiBlu DAH-1400

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The Good Compact; cool OLED screen; loads of features; big sound.

The Bad Confusing menu structure; slow USB speeds; disappointing battery life; charges via USB only.

The Bottom Line The MobiBlu DAH-1400 sounds great and crams lots of features into its tiny yet elegant frame, but you'll have to spend some time with the manual to figure out how to use them all.

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6.7 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 8
  • Performance 6

MobiBlu DAH-1400

Across the Pacific, MobiBlu is a well-known brand of MP3 players produced by parent company Hyun Won. Here in the States, MobiBlu is still trying to make a name for itself, and it's no wonder since, so far, the offerings have been merely adequate. The company fares better with the DAH-1400, an attractive flash player that supports MP3, WMA/WMA DRM, and OGG audio formats. This compact gadget boasts a decent array of features and surprisingly good sound quality, but we wish it had a better battery life and a more user-friendly interface.

Measuring a mere 2.7 by 1.1 by 0.6 inches and weighing 1.2 ounces, the MobiBlu DAH-1400 is only slightly wider than a typical USB key. Our 256MB ($130) review model came in the Dusty Blue Metallic, though you can also choose Candy Apple Red; 512MB and 1GB capacities are also available. No matter what color you decide on, the player features a silver face with dark gray trim around the three-line OLED display. The screen is small but brightly lit with blue text and icons, and it has an eye-catching, mirrorlike shine when not activated. The ability to flip the display image 180 degrees in the settings menu is handy, especially if you're a southpaw. To the right of the screen sits a small five-way joystick, which is used for scrolling and selecting menu items, controlling volume, tuning radio stations, and skipping through audio tracks. On one side of the device are four buttons (play/power/pause, lyrics/watch/navigate, EQ/SRS/bookmark, and record/play mode) that have different functions depending on whether you're in music, FM radio, or recording mode. The other side contains a tiny built-in microphone, a USB port with a rubberized slot cover, and a Reset button, while the headphone jack and a hold button are located on the top bezel.

The DAH-1400 comes with a gunmetal gray case.

The MobiBlu DAH-1400 is a complete package, so you needn't worry about purchasing extra options, unless you want to wear the device on your arm (an armband is available for $10). Included in the box are earphones, a neck strap, a belt-loop carrying case, and a user manual. There's also a program CD with drivers for Windows 98 users and a Lyrics Manager utility for editing and marking LRC files, which enable the DAH-1400 to display song lyrics while playing selected audio tracks. Additionally, you'll find a line-in cable for connecting the DAH-1400 to an external device, such as a cassette player, for direct recording to MP3 files at 64Kbps, 96Kbps, 128Kbps, or 192Kbps. The player did a good job encoding analog tracks and converting them to MP3 tracks. We liked the fact that the player can record tunes directly from FM radio, too. For both FM and voice recording, you can choose a bit rate between 32Kbps and 128Kbps.

We connected the DAH-1400 to our Windows XP desktop using the USB cable, and it was immediately recognized as a removable disk, making it easy to drag and drop files. But remember to use Windows Media Player 10.0 or Musicmatch Jukebox to transfer protected WMAs purchased from the likes of Napster. A built-in USB dongle similar to the kind found on the Jens of Sweden MP-130 would have been a convenient feature, considering the compactness of the device. We were also disappointed with the USB 1.1 transfer speeds, which can be agonizingly slow; we averaged just 0.52MB per second in our tests. Scrolling through the various setup and menu items was a bit confusing, and we found ourselves referring to the user guide to figure out why so many icons were crowding the tiny screen. Tracks are organized in folders on the player as with Windows Explorer, and unfortunately, playlists are not supported unless you create them as folders.

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