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MPIO FY 800 review: MPIO FY 800

In a market crowded with inexpensive and innovative gadgets, the MPIO FY800 isn't bad--just mediocre.

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Donald Bell
Donald_Bell.jpg

Donald Bell

Senior Editor / How To

Donald Bell has spent more than five years as a CNET senior editor, reviewing everything from MP3 players to the first three generations of the Apple iPad. He currently devotes his time to producing How To content for CNET, as well as weekly episodes of CNET's Top 5 video series.

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3 min read

4.7

MPIO FY 800

The Good

The MPIO FY800 is a small, lightweight, Mac/PC compatible digital audio player and FM tuner that accepts SD memory cards for expanding storage on-the-fly. Ability to record voice and FM radio content is a plus.

The Bad

The MPIO FY800's controls are cramped; some key features are unintentionally hidden; the tiny screen is unnecessarily cluttered and hard to read. The player doesn't support playlists or ID3 tags.

The Bottom Line

In a market crowded with inexpensive and innovative gadgets, the MPIO FY800 isn't bad--just mediocre.
MPIO FY 800 series

The FY800, a very basic flash offering from MPIO, is an attractive but uninspiring player that comes in 1GB ($89.99), 2GB ($109.99), and 4GB (pricing to come) capacities, which are expandable using SD memory cards. It must have been hard for MPIO to resist working the word "Nano" into the FY800's name because it certainly shares a familial resemblance to the iPod Nano and Creative Zen Nano. Regardless, it shares the same philosophy as other Nano-sized players--It's small enough to take for a jog but still allows a degree of control over organizing and directing your listening experience using the player's controls and LCD display.

Starting from the outside-in, the MPIO FY800 looks rather elegant and could easily stunt double for the iPod Nano. Despite its scratch-resistant anodized aluminum coating, the FY800 is noticeably lightweight--so much so that it feels a bit flimsy. It doesn't help that the retractable door on the USB port and SD expansion card slots are fragile, plastic, and extremely vulnerable to damage. You also get a standard sliding hold button on the side of the device (also plastic), allowing you to prevent the player's buttons from being triggered accidentally. On the bottom you'll find the audio-out minijack and a hole through which you can loop the supplied lanyard.

The front of the device is where you'll find the standard array of tactile controls for volume, play, pause, skip, select, search, record, and menu. The LCD display is monochromatic, which I think is a bonus on such a small player, though it's worth noting that color screens are the norm nowadays. Unfortunately, the screen real estate is tightly jammed with icons relating to mostly secondary functions (current EQ settings, song number, hold activation, memory, sleep timer--all have their own icons taking up the top 25 percent of the screen). With a display this small, we'd prefer to see the artist and song information displayed twice as large. For a player presumably targeting users looking for an easily navigable player to use at the gym or out on a jog, the text on this display is annoyingly small. The bottom line is the FY800's screen is cluttered and makes for clumsy navigation.

Internally, the MPIO FY800 supports MP3, WMA, and ASF file formats and can be switched between a Mac/PC compatible MSC mode (allowing the device to show up as a USB hard drive) and a PC-specific MTP mode that can support subscription content from services such as Rhapsody. Unfortunately, there's no support for playlists or ID3 tags. Instead, you'll have to sort all your music into a folder tree and use drag-and-drop transfer to organize your songs. Transfer speeds are fast over the USB 2.0 connection.

If you get sick of your song collection, you can switch over to the FY800's FM tuner, although remembering how to access it will send you back to the manual a few times (spoiler alert: pressing and holding the unmarked center-select button will switch you between FM and MP3 modes). Once in the unintentionally secret FM tuner mode, you have the option of scanning and storing station presets (20 of them) or using the record button to record broadcast material as WAV files.

Back in MP3 mode, you can use the recorder to take down voice memos using the built-in microphone located just above the USB port. Prior to recording, you can decide between low, medium, and high quality modes, as well as gain levels for the recording. Recording quality was surprisingly clean. Also included is a voice-activated recording mode that will automatically pause recording during extended periods of silence and resume recording once sound is detected (a common feature in handheld voice recorders). All other features aside, armed with a handful of SD memory cards I can see the FY800 functioning as a handy, discreet voice memo recorder. Still, a line-in recording function would make a nice addition.

With the EQ set flat, both MP3 and WMA files sounded clear and free from background hiss or hum. I found the six EQ presets and user-definable five-band preset very useful in warming up the low-end and adding clarity and definition to higher frequencies without introducing any noticeable distortion. Battery life held up to a respectable 14.28 hours in our CNET Labs tests.

4.7

MPIO FY 800

Score Breakdown

Design 4Features 6Performance 5