Digisette Duo review:

Digisette Duo

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CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Plays in tape decks; expandable memory; improved controls; great accessories.

The Bad No display; no Random mode; not Mac compatible.

The Bottom Line Digisette put a lot of work into fixing the problems with its original Duo cassette MP3 player, and it shows.

6.0 Overall

Updated 6/19/02

Editors' note:
The rating and/or Editors' Choice designation for this product has been altered since the review's original publication. The reason for this is simply the general improvement of technology over time. In order to keep our ratings fair and accurate, it's sometimes necessary to downgrade the ratings of older products relative to those of newer products.

When we looked at the original Digisette Duo-MP3, we weren't impressed. It had only 32MB of memory, a slow parallel-port connection for music transfers, inconvenient control buttons, and lame software. Digisette must have read our review before designing the Duo-64, because the company fixed just about all the problems that we had--including doubling the memory to 64MB. Updated 6/19/02

Editors' note:
The rating and/or Editors' Choice designation for this product has been altered since the review's original publication. The reason for this is simply the general improvement of technology over time. In order to keep our ratings fair and accurate, it's sometimes necessary to downgrade the ratings of older products relative to those of newer products.

When we looked at the original Digisette Duo-MP3, we weren't impressed. It had only 32MB of memory, a slow parallel-port connection for music transfers, inconvenient control buttons, and lame software. Digisette must have read our review before designing the Duo-64, because the company fixed just about all the problems that we had--including doubling the memory to 64MB.

Tape measures up
Like the earlier version, the Digisette Duo-64 looks pretty much like a normal cassette tape. The entire unit fits into any tape player--home, stereo, car, or Walkman--and works on a similar principle to that of cassette-shaped car adapters that come with many portable CD players. The Duo-64 has passable sound when played in this manner, although the audio is better when you plug headphones directly into the player, which is understandable. The Head Control function lets you optimize the device for different cassette players.

The original Duo didn't even include controls for rewind and fast-forward, and the buttons that were on the unit were poorly laid out and a pain to use. The Duo-64 solves those problems with a more sensible design and easy-to-use buttons. The controls are no longer in a single row, and you don't have to hold both the Play and Volume buttons to go forward and backward through tracks. You can still access five equalizer presets by repeatedly hitting the Play button. Even though the Duo-64 will probably spend a fair amount of its time inside your car stereo's cassette deck, we were frustrated to discover that there's no still display to see track information, which would come in handy when using the Duo-64 as a portable device. The Duo-64 also lacks Random and Repeat modes.

Extras galore
Getting music onto the Duo-64 is a lot easier than it was with the Duo-MP3. First, there's the USB connection, which is considerably faster than the parallel port used by the original unit. But the software has been improved as well, adding drag-and-drop support. Since pretty much anyone can transfer files in this manner, Digisette went from an obstructive interface to one that's much more user-friendly.

The Duo-64 not only comes with two battery rechargers (one for a wall socket and one for a car socket) but also an extra battery, so you always have a fresh one ready to go. The player is now compatible with Audible audio content, which gives you access to news, books, and other spoken-word programming--great for morning commuters. The Duo-64 also includes a voice recorder, which is always a welcome addition to a portable music player. As with the Duo-MP3, there's a slot for a MultiMedia card to expand the memory beyond the current 64MB, which holds about an hour of MP3s.

With a list price of $230, the Digisette Duo 64 lands on the cheaper side of 64MB MP3 players. Its expandability, shape, and accessories make it great for road trips, and a bare-bones carrying case keeps it useful as a portable player. It's nice to see a company put so much effort into fixing the problems with its products. This is the best cassette-deck-compatible player that we've seen to date.

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