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Wolverine Data MVP review: Wolverine Data MVP

Wolverine Data MVP

Nathaniel Wilkins

See full bio
5 min read

A four-way keypad located on the MVP's front panel allows intuitive navigation of menu levels, file lists, and other features. An Escape button takes you back to the previous device mode, while the Menu button accesses various features, including playlists, the six available EQ presets (there's no user-programmable EQ), repeat one/all, and shuffle. A rocker switch on the left side of the device lets you zoom still images and adjust the volume.

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5.7

Wolverine Data MVP

The Good

The Wolverine Data MVP has solid sound and image quality; comes in 60GB, 100GB, or 120GB capacities; includes a built-in multiformat memory-card reader; and provides a remote control and a carrying case with an integrated speaker. It has audio and video outputs, voice and line-in recording, a removable rechargeable battery, and NTSC and PAL video modes.

The Bad

The bulky Wolverine Data MVP doesn't play DRM-protected files or support ID3 tags. Its EQ modes sound poor, and there's no user-programmable EQ. Other flaws include so-so remote control performance and short battery life.

The Bottom Line

If you're looking for an oversize portable media player that emphasizes hard drive capacity and media-card support over compactness and DRM support, check out the Wolverine Data MVP.
Wolverine Data MVP
When you're talking about the little-known Wolverine Data MVP, you can't avoid talking about size. Available in 60GB ($400), 100GB ($500), and 120GB ($600) capacities, the MVP 9000 series offers more memory than most MP3 players on the market. Like an iPod, it plays video, audio, and image files from an internal hard drive and has a high-quality full-color display. Unlike an iPod, the MVP incorporates a multiformat memory-card reader and comes with a generous assortment of accessories, including a wireless remote control, a power adapter, and a carrying case with integrated speaker. Those features, combined with overall decent performance, make the MVP an OK contender for some users, but we wish it weren't so bulky. Physically speaking, it must be the biggest MP3 player in the world. Its lack of DRM support also seems to us like a glaring oversight at this stage of the game. Measuring 5.04 by 3.01 by 1.18 inches and decked out in a coat of glossy red, the bulky Wolverine Data MVP is reminiscent of a brick with an LCD. It's larger than an iPod in all dimensions and more than twice as thick, though its 2.5-inch-diagonal color LCD is the same size as an iPod's. Despite weighing 10 ounces, it looks like it would fare well in a hard fall, but we didn't want to tempt fate. Its fire-engine-red color and black side panels help give the device a playful but not high-end appearance. It's like a prop from the eighties.

Among the MVP's main-menu options are music, picture, and video icons that you select to drill down into the respective categories. In terms of interface design, the MVP's only significant drawback is that it doesn't filter by ID3 tags. As a result, you have to navigate music using the filenames and the directories under which files are stored on the unit. In other words, you can't browse music by categories such as artist, album, and genre. You can, however, arrange the music folders to your liking.

The MVP's connectivity includes a high-speed USB 2.0 port, a power-adapter jack, and three multiformat memory-card slots. Minijack video and audio outputs allow you to play the unit through your home-theater system, for instance. A minijack audio input for line-in recording rounds out the MVP's connectivity. The unit also has a built-in microphone for voice recording.

In the box, Wolverine includes a small, basic remote control with 10 blister-type buttons. Although you're unlikely to use the remote for portable applications, it's good to have if you connect the MVP to your home-theater system. The company also supplies a black hard-shell carrying case with a built-in speaker that's powered by two AAAs.

Supported audio-file formats include MP3, unprotected WMA, unprotected AAC, and WAV. The Wolverine Data MVP also supports M3U playlists transferred from your computer and has an add-to-queue-type on-the-go playlist function. The absence of support for DRM-protected files will put off Internet-music-service users. In the video realm, the MVP plays MPEG-1 files at 352x288-pixel resolution and 30 frames per second (fps), as well as MPEG-4 and DivX 5.x/6.x files at either 720x480-pixel resolution and 25fps or 640x480-pixel resolution and 30fps. Unfortunately, MPEG-2 and WMV files aren't supported.

Given its large hard drive, multitude of card slots, and decent LCD, the MVP makes a good tool for storing and viewing digital photos. It can display JPEG, TIFF, and BMP image files as well as raw files from certain digital cameras. Although this feature is not listed in the specifications, the device is also able to display a nonanimated GIF file. You can configure the MVP to automatically stretch images to fill its entire display. It can zoom still images up to 4X and rotate them. Viewing a photo slide show with musical accompaniment required a few more configuration steps than we would have liked, but it was nonetheless a fairly quick and painless process.

The MVP can play media files directly from an inserted memory card or copy the files to its internal hard drive. Conveniently, when connected to a computer, the Wolverine doubles as a PC memory-card reader. Supported memory-card formats include SD/MMC, SmartMedia, CompactFlash, Memory Stick/Memory Stick Pro, MicroDrive, and XD. An optional adapter lets you use a few other memory-card formats.

With various types of music, the Wolverine Data MVP's sound was clear, clean, and dynamic. We preferred listening to the unit with its EQ mode off, because the six EQ presets all sounded exceptionally unnatural, excessively muddying the sound in some cases and radically stripping down or overemphasizing treble and midrange in others. The unit's TFT LCD showed still images and video clearly.

With the Wolverine Data MVP connected to our HDTV set via the included miniplug-to-composite-video cable, we checked out several video and still-image files. Unsurprisingly, the videos and images looked fairly grainy, and the overall picture quality didn't come close to rivaling what you'd get from a DVD player or a wireless digital media receiver, such as D-Link's DSM-520. That said, the ability to connect the MVP to a TV is a nice extra; in conjunction with the remote control, it allows you to navigate menus and access videos, images, and music from the comfort of your couch. However, to register commands, we had to point the remote control almost directly at the device's side-panel IR port; even then, commands sometimes didn't work.

When we placed the MVP on a table, backed away several feet, and spoke in a normal voice, the unit's built-in mic didn't have any problems clearly recording the sound. Line-in recordings sounded too scrappy for music, in part because 24KHz/73Kbps is the device's best recording setting.

Wolverine rates the MVP for 8 hours of music playback or 3.5 hours of photo and video playback on a fully charged battery. The company also states that the unit can transfer 20GB of data from a memory card before depleting a fully charged battery. We watched an hour of video and listened to around 4 hours of music at a moderate volume before depleting the MVP 9000's battery. Fully recharging a depleted battery took roughly 7 hours--a long time by anyone's standards. As a workaround for the relatively short battery life and the long recharging time, you can purchase an extra battery and charger for $29 from Wolverine's Web site, which also offers other accessories, including a $15 belt case.

In the final analysis, there's really not much wrong with the MVP, which successfully delivers an interesting assortment of features suited to those who need a portable media device to store or transfer photos and other data. But given its bulk, its poor battery life, and its inability to play DRM music, we'll go with an iPod or a Creative Zen Vision:M any day.

wolverine-mvp-digital-av-player-hdd-120-gb-2-5.jpg
5.7

Wolverine Data MVP

Score Breakdown

Design 5Features 7Performance 5
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