Truly Pic 'N Roll MP313X
If you plan to compete in the iPod-dominated digital music player market, you better be something more than a pretty face. At first glance, the Truly Pic 'N Roll MP313X ($159) brings a lot of different features to the 1GB flash music player table, including a 1.8-inch, 64,000-color LCD, photo-viewing capability, and an SD memory card slot. Unfortunately, these features, along with direct MP3 encoding, an FM radio, and a voice recorder, are overwhelmed by lazy execution in both hardware and software design, as well as a shockingly short battery life.
At 3 by 2 by 0.6 inches, the shiny black Truly Pic 'N Roll MP313X is about half the size of a standard iPod. Adjacent to the LCD is a four-way transport-control joystick. On the top spine are four function controls--EQ, record/A-B, menu/hold, and escape/power--along with a pinhole microphone, all of which makes the MP313X difficult to handle without accidentally hitting a button, unless you remember to hold down the menu button for 3 seconds to put the player on hold. On the left spine are the line-in, headphone, and USB 2.0 jacks; on the right spine is the SD slot.
Included with the Truly Pic 'N Roll MP313X are USB and power cables (the player can be charged with either), along with a case, an armband, and a CD with the TMusic music-management software and a more extensive manual than the included multilingual paper instruction guide.
The Truly Pic 'N Roll MP313X's built-in lithium-ion battery requires 3 hours to charge, but the manual stipulates a 5-hour charge after the first full discharge, a caveat we've never encountered. Eight function options are arrayed on the opening screen: Music, Voice Recorder, Radio, Games, E-text, Picture Gallery, System Setup, and Memory Management, with a battery icon in the lower-right corner. You use the joystick to navigate through the functions and resulting choice lists, and you use the Escape key--rather than the menu button--to step forward and backward through the varying menu screens.
Transferring music is an immediate issue with the Truly Pic 'N Roll MP313X. Windows Media Player 10 doesn't support the player, though it identifies an inserted SD card. You can use Windows Explorer to drag and drop tracks from your My Music folder or install Truly's truly abysmal TMusic. In this software, columns of song information are limited to track name and a redundant Title column, as well as artist, album, track length, and genre; the software doesn't identify a track's file format (WMA or MP3), DRM status, or purchase site, for instance. Populating the software with around 1,100 tracks from the My Music folder took nearly half an hour, and even then, track meta tags were not automatically filled in. Transferring music to the player was not much speedier; we averaged 0.68MB per second. And every time we launched the software, we had to go through the same half hour to repopulate the song information and 2 minutes to repopulate the player's music population. This is unacceptable in our book.