Built around a 1.9-inch display, the Truly MP310 is bigger than most flash devices at 3.1 by 2.0 by 0.5 inches but is still light and comfortable at 1.8 ounces. At this size, it evokes the term microdrive rather than flash, and those looking for more than 5GB of storage will be disappointed. But the MP310 is a vast improvement over the MP301 in terms of controls, which are located at the bottom and along the right spine, adding to the overall PDA-like look and feel. The backlit LCD is bright and colorful, featuring 65,536 colors at 160x128 resolution. You'll find icons for the nine main functions on the menu, with a text prompt for the currently selected icon at the bottom.
Controls are straightforward: the central five-way key provides navigation and commands play functions (up/down, left/right, and Enter), the power/escape button moves back through menus and folders, and the Menu button pops up options, depending on the mode. On the side, EQ and A-B loop buttons are overloaded with special functions. For example, while playing music, hold EQ to power off the display; when you're listening to FM radio, press A-B to start recording; and if you're reading an e-book, press EQ to set bookmarks or A-B to enable accompanying music or FM playback.
Via the special USB cable and power supply, the MP310 utilizes the line-in jack to juice up. You can recharge the device through the USB port but at a slower rate.
The Truly MP310 supports MP3 and WMA formats but not DRM-protected WMAs. There is no playlist support, and you'll have to select a song by navigating the tree-style folders. You can simultaneously display song lyrics; they're prepared as text LRC files synchronized to time codes using the Lyric Editor software on the included CD. The MP310 also records to MP3 at 32Kbps, 128Kbps, and 192Kbps via either the built-in mic or the line-in jack; you can record from FM radio as well. In addition, you can designate up to 30 presets either manually or by using the autoscan function on Truly's good-sounding FM tuner; you can even edit presets and station names with the included FM Station Edit app.
Thanks to compatibility with JPEG and BMP files and a colorful screen, the MP310 can be used as a photo viewer, albeit a slow one. As tedious as it sounds, we recommend the included Image2Logo application to convert larger digital images to the preferred and proprietary LGO format. These 160x128-pixel images will render instantly, whereas the typical JPEG takes 10 seconds or longer. Slide shows can be set to display images in their native aspect ratios or cropped, but you can't output photos to a bigger display.
You can also view plain text files. However, the display can handle only eight lines of 16 characters each, so you probably won't be reading Ulysses on this thing. You can set bookmarks and let the text autoscroll while playing music or radio. This could be useful for reviewing notes or cramming before a test. As a bonus, the device includes three built-in strategic board games. Additionally, you can use the System Setup menu to customize the device with options, including setting the language (English, Spanish, or Chinese), adjusting the display contrast, and selecting a wallpaper image.
Though we've heard better sound from flash players, music comes through clear and full, despite the low 80dB signal-to-noise ratio. This is thanks in no small part to Truly's earphones--a surprisingly comfortable pair with padded buds and a shiny silver cord--as well as the use of one of five EQ presets. We were also pleased with the quality of the MP310's recordings. Voice recordings in particular sounded superb, even at the Medium setting. The headphone output could have used a bit more oomph, though.
The Truly MP310 is designed as a standard removable USB device. You can mount it on the desktop, then drag and drop files and folders or use the sync features in Windows Media Player or similar applications to transport selected music. However, the player's USB 1.1 interface yielded a slow transfer rate of 0.4MB per second. Battery life is similar to that of the MP301: an unspectacular 9.3 hours.
Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.