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Appeared on: Monday, February 28, 2005
Teac MP-200 MP3 Player


1. Introduction
Teac MP-200 MP3 Player

Introduction

Lately, the gadget market has been swamped with small-size memory devices that can be used for a multitude of purposes: playback/record audio, store/exchange data, listen to radio. Memory sizes initially were small, but as memory technology progresses, we can see today such devices produced with capacities reaching up to the order of a few gigabytes. Many devices exist on the market today that combine many of the features mentioned above. One of these devices is the MP-200 MP3 Player from Teac that arrived in our labs for review.

With dimensions of 71 x 32 x 15 mm, a weight of around 24 grams(w/o battery) and rectangular in shape, the Teac MP-200 MP3 Player is a small device that you can easily pop in your pocket, hang on your keychain, or by using the included necklace earphones, hang around your neck. The player provides more than 4 hours of music listening and can reproduce files encoded in the MP3 and WMA formats.

The full graphics organic LED / panel with 128 x 64 dots, provides status information. New music files can easily be copied to the player without using any special software. The player is recognized automatically as a removable device by recent versions of Windows OS (2000/XP), and you can use it immediately from the moment you plug it in. The Teac MP-200 MP3 Player can also be used as a recording device, allowing more than 4 hours of voice recording.

We'll begin with a detailed features and specifications list:

- Features & Specifications

Part No. MP-200-256/ MP-200-512/ MP-200-1GB
Memory Built-in flash memory
Capacity 256 MB for Audio or Data Files (512 MB/1 GB models also available)
Power Source 1xAAA Battery
Output Stereo Headphone(Stereo Mini-Jack) 5mW x 2
Dimensions 71x32x15mm
Weight 24 grams w/o battery (35 with battery)
OLED Display Full graphic Organic LED / Panel 128 x 64 dots
Features  
4 line / 2 color OLED display
  MP3 / WMA playback
  High quality DVR recording (128MB/8hr, 256MB/16hr)
  Supports Lyrics display
  Line-in encoding to WAV file directly from CD & Audio source
  Remote control
  A-B repeat /Repeat 1 / Repeat All/ Repeat Random
  portable storage device
  No driver required under Windows 2000/XP/ME
  Firmware upgradeable
  ID3 TAG display
  Equalizer mode: 5 presets (normal/rock/jazz/classic/pop)
  more than 12 hours with one AAA alkaline battery (continuously)
  Silver colored
  USB 2.0
Package includes - Teac MP-200 MP3Player
- USB connection cable
- Line-in cable
- Stereo earphones
- Remote control
- Neck strap
- Carrying pouch
- CD driver disk
- User manual
- 1 AAA Battery

2. Retail Package
Teac MP-200 MP3 Player

Retail Package

- Package


This is what you will receive, should you decide to buy the Teac MP-200 MP3 Player. Let's open the package and see what's inside:


The package contains:

- Teac MP-200 MP3Player
- USB connection cable
- Line-in cable
- Stereo earphones
- Remote control
- Neck strap
- Carrying pouch
- CD driver disk
- User manual
- 1 AAA Battery

Opening the box and taking out the Teac MP-200 MP3 Player, the first thing you notice is its size. It is very compact, is smaller in length and width than a credit card and is shaped like a cigarette lighter! Something that will easily fit in a pocket. Despite its size, it looks very sturdy and solid. It uses one AAA size battery, and its total weight is around 35 grams, very light indeed.


Also included is a pair of in-ear headphones. Their quality is quite good, and they produce a good sound. There is a clip-on remote control as well, that enables you to control the functions of the MP-200 while it safely sits inside your pocket.


Also included in the package is one AAA size battery, a USB connection cable, line-in cable, a carrying pouch and the drivers CD. As we mentioned in the beginning, no drivers are needed to access the player's memory, as it is recognized as a removable disk by Windows 2000/XP and any other operating system that supports this functionality. For older versions of Windows, such as Windows 98, the driver CD is needed in order to be able to access the player's memory. The device is assigned a drive letter (just like a flash disk) with a capacity of 256 MB (or 512MB/1GB depending on your model), that you can use to transfer music or store files, easily and transparently using Windows explorer or a similar file management utility.


3. Tests - Page 1
Teac MP-200 MP3 Player

Tests - 1

The Teac MP-200 MP3 Player stores the audio/data files in its built-in flash memory. The sample that arrived in our labs had a capacity of 256MB, but there are also a 512MB and 1GB models available. While 256MB might appear small to many of you, you can easily store around 6-7 hours of music (128Kbps MP3 format). The capacity depends on the bitrate of the stored music. The greater the bitrate (and hence quality) of the mp3 files you store, the less playback time that will be available. But if you feel you have a greater need for storage space, you can go for the larger capacity models. Apart from the differences in storage capacity, in all other respects, all the models in the series are identical. Bear in mind though, that this device can playback music files encoded with the MP3 and WMA format.

The main advantage of players that use flash memory instead of a CD-ROM reader is that they produce flawless playback, without skips. Since the player does not have any moving mechanical parts (like the optical pickup of a CDROM reader), it is not affected by vibrations or shock from sudden movements and hence, there is no need for skip protection mechanisms. Playback is smooth, and skipping between tracks is almost instantaneous. So, you can use the player without annoying skips while jogging or while performing any activity that requires rapid movements.

There is another advantage as well, that stems from the lack of mechanical parts. Power consumption is much less than a CDROM reader based player. This is the case with the Teac MP-200 MP3 Player as well. It operates on a single AAA size battery, which will give you many hours of playback time. In our tests, we managed to get a little more than 10 hours of continuous playback.

The Teac MP-200 MP3 Player is primarily controlled through a pair of two way buttons, located on the lengthwise lower side of the device (see photos below) and a two way button next to the display that can be used to turn the device on or off, play/pause as well as record. All the MP-200's functions are controlled with these three buttons. The 85-page user manual that is included (in the German/English/French languages), will help you configure and use the device without too much hassle.



Looking at the photos above, on the top photo we can see (from left to right) the power on/off switch, and the display. This two-way switch is used to start/stop/pause playback, control recording, A-B repeat. The LCD screen is quite impressive for a device of this size. The device's LCD screen is readable under low light conditions, and it can display two colors (light blue, yellow). The information displayed during playback is the file's ID3 tag/file name, playback time, along with volume level.

The lower photo show the buttons located on the side, where we can see (from left to right) the VOL/SEARCH FF/RW button, and the MENU and EQ/DEL button. The skip forward/backwards buttons also serve as volume up/down buttons when pressed for more than 1 second.

The pair of photos above, show the inputs/outputs to the device. Located on the the left and right extremes of this rectangular shaped device, there are the USB connection, and the earphone jack and the line-in input jack, respectively. The USB interface connection is quite small and unfortunately unprotected. So extra care must be taken to avoid dust or anything else getting in there. The USB connection is the only way to exchange files with a computer making the need for a USB cable imperative.


4. Tests - Page 2
Teac MP-200 MP3 Player

Tests - 2

We tested the Teac MP-200 MP3 Player's playback capabilities with different types of MP3 files. We tried playing files with different bitrates, constant and variable bitrate encoded files. The device managed to playback everything we threw at it with no problems. For more details, consult the following table.

Compression Type Compression Settings Recognize/Play
MP3 CBR 20kBit 11025Hz Mono Yes
CBR 20kBit 11025Hz Stereo
CBR 32kBit 11025Hz Stereo
CBR 32kBit 22050Hz Mono
CBR 40kBit 22050Hz Stereo
CBR 48kBit 22050Hz Stereo
CBR 48kBit 44100Hz Mono
CBR 56kBit 22050Hz Mono
CBR 56kBit 44100Hz Mono
CBR 64kBit 22050Hz Stereo
CBR 96kBit 44100Hz Mono
CBR 96kBit 44100Hz Stereo
CBR 112kBit 44100Hz Stereo
CBR 128kBit 44100Hz Mono
CBR 128kBit 44100Hz Stereo
CBR 160kBit 44100Hz Stereo
CBR 192kBit 44100Hz Stereo
CBR 224kBit 44100Hz Stereo
CBR 256kBit 44100Hz Stereo
CBR 320kBit 44100Hz Stereo
VBR - High compression
VBR - Highest compression
VBR - Low compression
VBR - Lowest compression
VBR - Medium compression
WMA CBR 48kbps
CBR 64kbps
CBR 96kbps
CBR 128kbps
CBR 160kbps
CBR 192kbps
VBR any bitrate
WAV WAV Partially supported. Can play back recordings, and any WAV files using the IMA ADPCM codec only

The Teac Mp-200 MP3 Player can read ID3 tags as well and it can display various information about the tracks being played, such as the title/duration/current position. It can also display each song's lyrics, but prior processing is needed in order to embed the lyrics within the MP3 file. There are plugins for Winamp that can take care of this task. All this information is displayed on the device's screen, scrolling from left to right so that all of the details can be displayed.

As far as music quality is concerned, the Teac Mp-200 MP3 Player performed very well and without any glitches. When listening to well-encoded MP3/WMA files, the produced sound was very good, at all volume levels. The sound was crisp, the max volume level was loud enough, and the 5 EQ presets were quite handy.

Looking at the recording capabilities of the MP-200, the device can be used as a voice recorder using the built-in microphone, or it can record directly from another source using the line-in input jack. The device records using the IMA ADPCM codec which produces uncompressed WAV files. The maximum recording time with the MP-200 with 256MB capacity, is around 16 hours. Each recording is stored as a file with a .WAV extension in the player's memory, which you can then copy to your computer and listen to directly.

The device supports the USB 1.1 standard for data transfer and although it offers limited speed compared to the USB 2.0 standard, the speeds are quite slow considering the size of the memory. To copy 256MB of data from your PC to the MP-200, you will need approximately 7-8 minutes.


5. Conclusion
Teac MP-200 MP3 Player

Conclusion

The Teac MP-200 MP3 Player is a handy little device that packs a lot of features in a very small module. It has excellent battery life, featuring 10-11 hours of playback time with only a single AAA battery. You can listen to music or record audio using the built-in microphone/line-in input. Sound quality is very good and we believe will satisfy even the more demanding users.

A feature that is lacking that many might desire is a radio on the player. On the other hand, the retail package is quite complete, leaving nothing out in order to get up and running. There is even a remote control which although being a little on the fragile side, will get the job done.

The MP-200's retail price (256MB unit) at the time of the writing of this review, was around €80, making it good value for the money considering it can function both as a flash disc and as a digital music player/recorder.

- The Good

- The Bad

Design & Body
Ease of use
Features
Connectivity
Value for money


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