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Review: Akai 256MB MP3 Player with SD Slot

This is a review of the Akai 256MB MP3 player, with SD slot. The player costs about 28 at the time of writing, available from amazon.co.uk.

The player looks good, it is white with Red markings, and comes with white headphones and a white USB lead. There is no charger as this runs off a standard AAA battery. It is about the same size as a modern iPod, maybe a little smaller, and as it doesn't have hard disk it's lighter.

It comes with 256MB built in memory, but the real advantage of this is the ability to plug in SD cards. Using an appropriate sized SD card you could store up to a few hundred songs.

Although the player is branded as Akai (including the power on logo), it came with software branded SigmaTel. This includes a firmware updater which appeared to install the same version but changed the power on logo to be Allstar.

The display has 4 lines

  1. track length, time into track, current track number and total tracks
  2. Song Title
  3. Artist Name
  4. Volume, whether the track is from internal memory or card and battery status.

really this covers everything you need to know about the current song. It has a blue back-light which makes it easy to see.

There are only 4 buttons on the player. One that functions as play, pause and power; one that goes into the menu to allow you to configure the player, and the remaining two for track selection and volume control (by holding the button down). This is all easy to use, but does have one downside in that if you power off you go back to the first track. It doesn't have any way of remembering what track you are on. Also you cannot search through based on artist, or any other parameter you can just skip through the tracks sequentially. This is OK if you have a number of small SD cards, but makes it impractical for putting in really large SD cards, as you would never reach beyond the first few tracks.

The sound quality is OK, although not great.

The player can be viewed in windows explorer and files can be copied onto either the internal memory or the SD card (show as separate drives). The SD card can also have music copied to it using a SD card reader/writer. I was unable to get the internal drive to mount under Linux (although I didn't try to investigate as I am happy just using the SD cards). I could transfer tracks to the SD card using my SD reader/writing under Linux and so it can be used with Linux.

All in all this is quite adequate at what it does. It is a bit basic, but the price more than reflects it, it is very cheap when you consider you can easily extend it by putting in a cheap readily available SD card. If you want a cheap MP3 player and can put up with the basic navigation then it's worth buying, you'd be looking at paying a lot more for a better player.


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