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Am I blue?
With its square, black surface and transparent blue-plastic top, the TEAC MP-330 certainly doesn't look like just any old CD player. Weighing just 5.6 ounces, it measures only 4.0 by 3.8 by 1.1 inches--much smaller than a normal portable CD player but still not quite tiny enough to fit into your pocket.
The MP-330 uses 8cm mini CD-Rs and CD-RWs, each of which hold 185MB of MP3 music. That translates to something like 45 songs, depending on the bit rate that you use. Though somewhat uncommon, these mini CDs can be created using any standard CD-R/RW drive. The face of the unit sports a very easy-to-read LCD and buttons for controlling the three-band equalizer and Repeat and Intro modes, as well as controls for creating a custom playlist on the fly. Plus, there's also buttons that control standard functions such as play, pause, forward, and reverse.
Major navigation flaws
When we dropped an MP3 mini-CD into the TEAC, it quickly recognized all of the folders and music. But the display doesn't show folders on the disc or song information from the ID3 tags--which, at this point, all MP3 players should do. Without them, folder navigation is difficult, and song selection is nearly impossible. Plus there's no easy way to skip to the next folder; you have to go through each track in one folder to get to the next folder. The player does support custom playlists, but the aforementioned display and navigation limitations make it difficult to find the tracks you want, rendering the function useless.
To its credit, this TEAC does sound pretty good. The bundled Sennheiser MX300 ear bud-style headphones deliver a full, rich, clear sound--especially in the bass range. The player did fine with every mini-CD we tried, so long as the unit was stationary. But when jolted, it seemed to lose its place on the disc and took several seconds to recover. Using two AA batteries, the unit lasted seven hours in our battery-drain testing, which pretty much matches the company's claims.
TEAC got a few things right with this unit: the compact design, the outstanding headphones, and the crystal-clear LCD. However, the MP-330's lack of ID3 support and skipping issues are serious deficiencies that keep this player from earning our recommendation--even with its reasonable $130 list price.