Once you've loaded and profiled your tunes, the Lyra offers several listening options. While you're browsing, for instance, you can easily add tracks on the fly to the MySelections playlist. You can add a Like or Dislike tag to the current song: in SmartShuffle mode, Like increases playback frequency, and Dislike sends a track to the bottom of the pile. In addition to shuffle settings, there are various repeat modes. And a five-band equalizer, which has four presets and a user-defined selection, lets you punch up the sound with precision.
Another cool extra is LyraSync, a file- and folder-syncing desktop application for the Lyra and your PC. The program is handy if you need to back up files on your system or take work home from the office. However, the Lyra is good for only playing music and storing data; you don't get an FM tuner, voice capture, or line-in recording.
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These clip-on headphones are all right, but as with most bundled models, audiophiles will want to swap them out.
The Lyra performed well on the go, delivering excellent audio quality, good detail, and a high maximum volume. We also heard plenty of bass, especially once we'd fiddled with the equalizer. We appreciated being able to clip the bundled headphones to our ears, but audiophiles would be better off with more-expensive replacements; the sound improved considerably coming through our reference Shure E3c earbuds.
We loaded the player with music using the included standard USB cable. A 1.1 connection yielded a rate of 0.85MB per second, and 2.0 transfers flew across at a brisk 5.7MB per second.
In our tests, battery life averaged about 10.5 hours--a little shy of RCA's 12-hour rating but still good by MP3-jukebox standards.
We unearthed two performance anomalies. First, the Lyra's otherwise dependable processor takes slightly too long to switch between screens. Second, pressing the navigation joystick doesn't select items; you have to click toward the right instead. We suspect that RCA will remedy the latter issue with a firmware upgrade.