Digitra MP-Trio MP3 Player
Words & Pictures: Marcus
Model: Flo Jalin
One and a half ounces, that's what this thing weighs. That's 1.5 ounces complete with two memory cards and the battery. Now you might have some reservations about having to deal with ripping your entire CD collection to your hard drive, but when the portable player weighs only 1.5 ounces its worth spending some time. I know there are other more direct ways of getting music in MP3 form. You can even buy songs directly over the net in MP3 form. Well I guess MP3 is here to stay for at least a little while. So you're going to need a portable player of some sort. I recommend the Digitra MP-Trio. This little unit is terrific. I really should say tiny, because that's what this thing is. It's the size of a Zippo lighter. Size isn't everything though and luckily this MP3 player delivers a big punch from its small package.
The MP-Trio runs for eight hours on a single AAA battery. Now you might be thinking, 'how much sound can this music device deliver on an AAA battery.' The answer is a huge amount. When using the standard Sennheiser headphones which I use to test all music equipment, I was amazed by the volume level. When traveling on a Delta flight to Hawaii, the MP-Trio was able to drowned out the sound of the engine that I was sitting very close to. It was also able to create enough sound to annoy the elderly couple sitting in front of me. A second example of the amount of sound that this thing produces is at the gym. Unfortunately my gym has one large room where the free weights and machines are also with the kick boxing classes. These kick boxing instructors are all very deaf and have to crank up their music. The Digitra MP3 player has enough volume to drown out the gyms sound system. Now that's pretty cool. The third example of audio power is that when I demonstrate the unit to a person with normal hearing, they ask me to turn it down. By the way, the MP-Trio ships with the tiny ear bud style headphones. I think they would be suitably deafening to even a hard rock musician. There small size won't mess with your hair either. Flo is actually wearing them in this photo.
The Digitra MP-Trio ships with two 16 megabyte Multimedia Cards. These tiny cards are the size of a postage stamp. The largest available size for a MMC is 64 megs. Which means that a total of 128 megabytes of music can be stored in this minuscule package. How much time worth of music does 128 megs allow you? Well it does sort of depend on the quality of the compression that you choose when ripping (converting your CD to MP3 files) your music. I'll tell you this much, I've tried to increase the amount of music I can take to the gym past the 30 minutes that the 32 megabytes normally allows. I've compressed the music twice as much in order to hear over one hour. Even though I am not an audiophile, I cannot listen to the extremely compressed music. The only way I can describe the way that the music sounds is it's like listening to music underwater. I guess you can't cheat the compression gods that much. Besides if I owned the MP-Trio, I'd just invest in two 64 megabyte cards.
About the only down side of this cool product is the necessity to swap the cards around in their card slots in order to record to both of them. There's no problem playing the music from either card slot but only one of them is recordable. A minor annoyance agreed, but hey, I had to say something bad didn't I.
Here is the bonus that Digitra gives you. The MP-Trio has a tiny microphone built into it. So you are able to record whatever sounds you want and then download them to your PC. It has pretty good sound quality too. I bet that some people might even purchase the MP-Trio as a voice recorder / spy gadget.
There is no LCD information screen on the MP-Trio. This does not bother me because the purpose of the device is mobile listening and I'm never going to read the name of the song while I'm jogging or cleaning the house. The omission of a LCD info screen also reduces the price of the unit and also increases the durability. "Well how am I going to know when the battery is about to die?" Some of you might ask. Digitra was smart enough to put in a tricolor LED that shows battery life by illuminating green, yellow and finally red. Good job Digitra.
If you go and read my article about the repulsive RCA Lyra, you will see how the software that came with the product was the real let down. It's not the case with the MP-Trio. Once again you have to use your parallel port to connect the MP-Trio to your PC. Fortunately I've tried it on the same two computers that the RCA product knocked out and I had not one bit of trouble. No trouble installing the software and no trouble transferring MP3 files to the unit. Considering that I was given a pre-production model of the MP-Trio and had no trouble, Digitra deserves a medal for the software alone.
How much would you pay for such a wonderful device? About $199.00 that's it. Of course that's with only the stock 32 megs of storage. A single 64 megabyte MMC card costs about $199 on its own. So if I were to buy a MP-Trio player and the necessary (necessary for me.) 128 megs of storage, I would have to fork over about $600.00. I feel that this is a good enough product to justify spending that much money. The portability and durability, ease of use, and extreme battery life makes it worth 600 bucks. Of course I'm not the only market for this player, and I was pointed this out by one of the Digitra staff. He said that younger kids will not mind the 32 meg stock memory. I'll have to probably agree with him because the majority of the MP3 players out on the market come with 32 megs.
OK so this is a terrific product that works as advertised. If you're into MP3 files or recording your own voice on the go then you should take a close look at the Digitra MP-Trio.