Want to impress your jaded gadget geek friends? Show 'em the Signeo SN-A800, a sleek and unusual MP3 player straight out of Japan. From the beginning, the retro-styled flash-based player, with its circular display and 14 "blister" buttons caught our fancy; you might even say it's our current MP3 crush. But in the A800's case, love is costly.
Available in 512MB or 1GB capacities (at a spendy $170 and $250 respectively), the MP3/WMA/OGG/WAV player has a basic set of features that is spread out across its numerous Intellivision-style puffy keys. Available in black, 1970s yellow, or a superfresh 1970s blue, the device was designed by renowned industrial designer Marc Newson. ). It is actually thinner than the iPod Nano at 0.26 inches, weighs about an ounce, and measures a very pocketable 1.9 by 2.6 inches.
The control system is anything but iPod. The numerous buttons (which aren't as difficult to press as they seem, but could annoy some) may confuse the first timer, but eventually, they make a great deal of sense. Each function has its own dedicated button, so menu surfing is unnecessary. For example, Line takes you to line-in recording, Voice takes you to the excellent voice recorder, and FM takes you to the autoscannable 20-preset FM radio feature. There are even dedicated buttons for power on (green) and power off (red). The hold switch, by the way, is on the back.