Saturday, January 12, 2008

Insignia? What the heck brand is that?

So today I went out and bought an MP3 player with some of the Christmas gift certificates I recently received. Everyone and their Grandmother has an iPod these days and while I really like them, I was looking for a bit more.

Imagine my surprise when I come across the Insignia Sport 4GB MP3 player. Insignia? What the heck is that? Best Buy's brand? Ugghh... This can't be good.

Wrong. This is a really impressive little player. I am REALLY surprised.

I needed an MP3 player that could handle secure WMA audio so I could use my Yahoo! Music Unlimited To Go subscription. This is the same as what is offered by Napster and Rhapsody. But I also wanted bluetooth functionality so I could use it with my bluetooth stereo headset. I recently purchased a Plantronics 855 Stereo Bluetooth headset and I am really liking it. Plus, it wouldn't hurt to have some expandability. I don't need 20GB of music at all times (or more) but it's still nice to be able to expand if you want to.

So...

MP3 features

All-around great. Same features as most players. Very good audio quality. Equalizer has five presets plus a custom setting. A really nice benefit is that the player has a microSD slot, so your little 4GB MP3 player can be expanded to 6, or 8 or 10GB. Awesome!

Bluetooth

Very, very impressive. It paired up with my Plantronics 855 Stereo headset without an issue. I did experience some dropouts of the audio from time to time. Nothing too bad, but it does happen. One VERY cool feature is that I was also able to pair the headset to a cell phone (Palm Treo 700P). When a call came in, the music was put on hold and I took the call. When the call was concluded, the music resumed. Keep in mind though that the music does not pause, the audio stream is simply put on hold. The manual for the 855 says otherwise, but my experience was that there was no pausing. Just keep in mind your BT headset needs to support multiple devices as well. I don't know how many BT pairings the 855 can hold but I've been able to switch between three devices so far without problems.

Radio

The unit has an FM radio and retrieves RDS information from the radio stations you are listening to (if the radio station is actually transmitting RDS info) which is a nice feature. The radio quality was VERY good in New York City. Plus, the RDS info can be saved if you hear a song on the radio that you want to download at a later time. The radio also has 20 presets available for setting.

Video

The video capability was surprisingly good and there is a program included to help you convert video files to the appropriate MPEG4 format. You can also use it to show still pictures

Extra

If you're willing to carry the USB cable around, you can use the player to store files on, just like a standard USB flash drive.

Issues

The one issue I had has to do with the radio. The FM radio requires a wired headset because it used the headset wires as the antenna. Technically you can still use the Bluetooth headset at the same time. It worked fine for me. But it seems foolish to listen to the radio on your wireless bluetooth stereo headset while your wired headphones are plugged in. To be honest, the audio quality is so good, I may simply use wired earbuds normally.

One last thing, the manual they include on the CD is incorrect and refers to an older model. You can download the correct manual (user guide) from http://www.insignia-products.com