InnoGear MiniJam review:

InnoGear MiniJam

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CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Windows and Mac compatible; memory expansion; robust feature set.

The Bad Lengthy load time for MP3s; short battery life; too big to use with your Visor case.

The Bottom Line While the idea of an MP3-playing Handspring Visor Module makes lots of sense, the MiniJam has a few problems that should probably keep it off your wish list.

5.0 Overall

We were certainly excited to see the arrival of InnoGear's MiniJam player for the Handspring Visor, which brings MP3 audio functionality to the formerly mute PDA. The MiniJam has plenty of features, a slick interface that supports skins, and about an hour's worth of audio playing time. What's not to like? Well, sometimes first impressions aren't accurate. The MiniJam suffers from poor performance in a few key areas. We were certainly excited to see the arrival of InnoGear's MiniJam player for the Handspring Visor, which brings MP3 audio functionality to the formerly mute PDA. The MiniJam has plenty of features, a slick interface that supports skins, and about an hour's worth of audio playing time. What's not to like? Well, sometimes first impressions aren't accurate. The MiniJam suffers from poor performance in a few key areas.

It Wins the Memory Battle
The module we reviewed comes with a single 64MB multimedia card, amounting to about an hour's worth of high-quality MP3 music. A 32MB version is also available, in either Graphite or Ice. The unit has an expansion slot, so you can buy another multimedia card and bump the memory up an additional 32MB or 64MB--something you can't do with the competing SoundsGood AudioPlayer.

As far as memory goes, the MiniJam is all aces, but it's hard to overlook its awkward shape. Unlike the SoundsGood AudioPlayer, the larger MiniJam sticks out past the top of the Visor from the expansion slot. Consequently, our carrying case wouldn't fit the Visor anymore, and we couldn't reattach the protective faceplate that flips down over the front of the unit. InnoGear supplies a soft, sporty replacement case that handles a Visor with the MiniJam module installed, but this doesn't make up for not being able to use the faceplate protector or a normal case with the device. On the other hand, the audio controls on the top of the module are very easy to use, and you can operate the audio player without turning on the Visor. However, all audio functions are juiced by the same two AAA batteries that power the Visor.

Songs Load Slowly, Batteries Drain Quickly
As with other MP3 players, you'll need to load the software and transfer your MP3 files to the device (via USB HotSync) before you can use it. We were a bit annoyed that installing the software put three extra, irrelevant applications on our Visor (for viewing images, text, and e-books). The MiniJam Loader software, which transfers MP3s to the module, was easy to use but took an average of 35 minutes to transfer an hour of music. This seemed outrageous to us, especially considering that the transfer time for the same amount of music on the SoundsGood module takes about one-quarter of the time. To add insult to injury, the MiniJam consumed battery power at an alarming rate; it took just two to three hours of music playback to vanquish a pair of batteries.

Back to the Drawing Board
Despite the problems we encountered with the player, we would like to give credit where credit is due. At $260, the MiniJam delivers commendable sound quality along with some sporty features such as software skins and a customizable equalizer. However, due to the battery life, file-transfer time, and size factor issues, we can't help but feel InnoGear should take this one back to the drawing board.

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