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Home > Hardware Reviews > Consumer Electronics

Sunday, February 17, 2002
Freecom BeatMan 8cm MP3 Player

1. Introduction

Freecom BeatMan vs. MP-Zip 8cm Mp3 Players -  Page 1

Review by Elias Hantzakos


At first it was the cassette Walkman. Then came Discmans, MiniDiscs, DATs and DCCs. The last couple of years saw the advent of solid-memory-based players and Discmans with MP3/WMA decoding capabilities. And now, the latest trend in portable music players is the so called mini-CD players, ie 8cm Discmans.

Why buy a mini-CD player, one might ask. There are several reasons if you asked us: Smaller size than standard-size Discmans, and great storage capacity (185 Mbytes) at a fraction of the cost of memory-based players. Mini-CD players cost less than 64MB-memory players, and can hold not just 185 Mbytes of songs, but additional 185-Mbyte sets at the cost of empty CD-R or CD-RWs. You would need a fortune to buy 1 GB of memory if you used a memory-based player, but if you buy a Mini-CD player, you can have this size of memory by buying five or six CD-R discs, at half than a dollar each! In our view, mini-CD players are not up against standard-size MP3 Discmans, which are unbeatable in their ability to play standard Audio CDs and their 650/700Mbyte storage capacity; they are up against the solid-memory players, which are still very expensive to buy, and even costlier to expand with more memory.

If you absolutely need the smallest music portable on the market, you'll have to go for a memory-based solution. But if you don't mind a little extra size and weight, go for a mini-CD player. It'll offer hours of portable music pleasure at the most affordable cost.

In this review, we'll take a close look at two mini-CD players that we used for the last month: The MP-Zip by, and the Beatman by Freecom.

- Package contents

At first, let's examine the contents of the product packages.

The MP-Zip box contains:
- 1x MP-Zip player
- 1x empty 8cm CD-R
- 1x product manual
- 1x AC power adaptor/battery charger
- 1x external battery chamber
- 1x pair of unbranded in-ear headphones

The Beatman box contains:
- 1x Beatman player
- 2x Duracell Ultra M3 AA-size batteries
- 1x empty 8cm CD-R with plastic CD-case
- 1x 8cm CD-ROM with Musicman Jukebox
- 1x 8cm Audio CD with a Rolling Stone magazine collection of songs
- 1x product manual
- 1x AC power adaptor
- 1x pair of Sennheiser MX300 in-ear headphones

- Looks, size & weight

Opening the boxes and starting from the looks, the MP-Zip looks a lot cheaper than the Beatman. It reminds us of every other Asian manufacturers' typical cd/mp3 player, although of course smaller: It is mostly gray, with lots of silver shinning areas that make it look somewhat bloated, and has in general a rather not-so-sturdy feeling when handling it and pressing its buttons.


The Beatman on the other hand, looks much more solid and compact: It is smaller than the MP-Zip (roughly the size of the 8cm disc it houses inside), its blue color with the semi-transparent CD cover seems classy, and its build quality seems very good. On the downside, it is significantly heavier than the MP-Zip, in part because it uses bigger AA-size batteries instead of the small AAA-size ones. Being heavier could also mean it is easier to break if it falls. We did drop the MP-Zip a couple of times by pure accident, but it still operate flawlessly! We haven't dropped the Beatman (and hope we never do), but we think it may not have survived a severe crash.

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