With the launch of the Pic 'N Roll MP301 in June 2004, Truly became one of the first companies to offer an MP3 player with photo-viewing capabilities. Though its features were forward-thinking at the time, the player overall was flawed. Unfortunately, Truly with its latest release still hasn't managed to make its player user-friendly. The new Pic 'N Roll FT602 is an attractive device with plenty of desirable features, but its terrible interface and touchy audio quality spoils the experience.
The FT602--available in Titanium Gray and Pink (both 2GB, for $149)--isn't terribly small, though it's certainly pocket-sized at 3x1.6x0.5 inches and 1.9 ounces. And we're pleased to note that a generous screen, at 1.8-inches diagonal, dominates the front of the player. While crisp and bright for reading text, the display can make photos and videos look jagged and blurry at times. Below the screen sit two unmarked buttons, which flank a five-way control pad. The control pad navigates menu options, and controls content playback and volume. After some perusing, we discovered that the two mystery buttons serve as ESC and contextual menu keys. On the right spine of the device sit the EQ, A/B or Record, and Mode/Power buttons; the left spine houses the device's pinhole mic and hold switch. A standard mini USB port is located on the bottom of the player, while a headphone jack and smaller-then-typical line-in port are on top. All said, there's a lot going on--yet none of it is organized very well in the interface.
It would be impossible to elaborate on the FT602's many unusual--and irritating--interface quirks in this short review, so we'll address just a few of the more bothersome ones. First, if you want to use all but the most basic functions, you'll need to read the manual thoroughly--all 72 pages of it. Even some of the more basic features, such as music playback, require knowledge gleaned from the user guide. For example, there's no true music menu. Selecting the Music icon from the top menu takes you to a list of all the songs on the player, which you can play from that screen. But if you want to navigate through track or album selections, you need to hit the contextual menu button, then select Add Song. This will let you jump to a song on the player, but it still doesn't offer a way to play just a particular album or artist. Confused yet? We were, too. It's all a rather convoluted approach that would have been solved with a dedicated music navigation menu. Organizing our music into folders before transferring it to the FT602 via drag-and-drop did little to solve the problem--the tracks still showed up as one giant list under the Music menu. Oddly, the artist and album folders we created were listed in the folder-tree view under the Video menu. As there were no videos in the files, this did us little good and only served to make our experience with the player more complicated.
The shame of this poorly executed interface is that it defeats the purpose of the FT602's many features. It has an excellent FM tuner with auto-scan modes that can pick up stations of varying strength; there are also 20 preset slots. The player includes voice, FM, and line-in recording (a cable is supplied). You can read eBooks on the FT602, and it also supports a decent array of audio (MP3, WAV, OGG, and WMA) and photo (JPEG, BMP, GIF) formats. Video, however, must be converted to a proprietary format using a utility that comes with the device. The Truly Web site says the FT602 supports "secure WMA," but we don't see how that's possible--as the FT602 doesn't show up in Windows Media Player.
While FT602 falls qualitatively flat in the photo and video department, audio quality is another story. When you swap in a pair of decent headphones (we used the Shure E4c), certain types of music--classic rock, some electronica, and easy listening--sounded pretty good, with clearly defined highs and a decently warm mid-range. However, any songs with heavy bass--especially hard rock, and most hip-hop songs--sounded muffled and distorted. And whenever we used the included earbuds, we heard a crackling sound between (and even during) some tracks. The rated battery life of 10 hours for audio is similarly unimpressive, and the actual battery life of 6.4 hours is even more so.
The Truly FT602 may have some redeeming qualities, but it's still a sub-standard MP3 player when push comes to shove. Unless you want your groove killed by a clunky interface, steer clear of the FT602. Instead, try the Creative Zen V Plus or an iRiver Clix.