The small, simple, lightweight Hyblitz MDM-H301(U) from I-O Data could be an option for folks who want to listen to an hour's worth of tunes during their commute or when they work out. But for those who thirst for the latest capabilities, its bare-minimum feature set could overshadow its compact design. The small, simple, lightweight Hyblitz MDM-H301(U) from I-O Data could be an option for folks who want to listen to an hour's worth of tunes during their commute or when they work out. But for those who thirst for the latest capabilities, its bare-minimum feature set could overshadow its compact design.
Measuring just 1.69 by 3.15 by .7 inches and weighing only 1.4 ounces with the rechargeable battery, the rectangular, black-and-silver Hyblitz fits in any pocket. It's also a snap to operate on the go, as there are few buttons to contend with: a jog dial for navigation and playback functions; a Hold switch for preventing accidental use; and a Mode button that toggles between EQ presets and Random and Repeat play modes. A rubber cover protects the player's USB port and its innards--a nice touch. But because the player doesn't read ID3 tags, its backlit LCD shows song numbers instead of song names--a big minus in our book.
Transferring 64MB of MP3, WMA, and AAC files to the Hyblitz over its USB cable is an easy drag-and-drop affair, thanks to the included copies of MusicMatch Jukebox, Windows Media Player, and Liquid Player. The 64MB of flash memory translates to about an hour's worth of tunes. If that's not enough for you, forget about the Hyblitz--it lacks an expansion slot for adding more memory.
Expandable for Windows XP users only
However, Windows XP users who want to store more music have a nifty workaround. The XP version of Windows Media Player gives you the option of transcoding your MP3 files to 48Kbps WMA files as they transfer to the Hyblitz. This lets you store three hours' worth of music on that same 64MB of memory, though you'll sacrifice audio quality for a longer playlist. That said, unless you're an audiophile, this degradation shouldn't bother you too much.
Sound quality was mostly fine over the lackluster earbuds, although we did encounter a bit of distortion when blasting the Hyblitz at top volume. If you tend to listen at loud levels, this will be a problem. A loop at the top of the player suggests that you can affix it to your arm or your belt for working out, but I-O Data didn't include any sort of lanyard or clip for attaching the Hyblitz. The player also lacks an FM radio and a carrying case/belt clip.
The included rechargeable nickel-metal-hydride battery gave us four hours of power, which is right in line with I-O Data's claims but below our expectations. And although we liked recharging the battery via the USB connection, we didn't enjoy waiting more than three hours for it to juice up. Using a regular alkaline AAA instead of the rechargeable cell, the Hyblitz is supposed to yield five-and-a-half hours of playback time, but it lasted only slightly more than four hours in our tests.
Too pricey to be this dicey
In the long run, we feel it's better to have $150 in your pocket than the Hyblitz MDM-H301(U), which retails at the same list price. Since this is a bare-bones player with only 64MB of nonupgradable memory, it should be priced lower. If you run Windows XP and don't mind the slight quality loss that encoding WMAs at 48Kbps will give you, then you might consider this model. However, with so many other options available today, including Bantam's expandable 128MB ($200 list), the Hyblitz doesn't give you enough for your money.