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The RAVE MP player from Sensory Science features voice and memo recording capabilities in a small futuristic-looking package.Good points:
- nice design if you like the Star Trek styling
- ability to record is nice if you need it, but it only records in mono
- only needs 1 AA battery
- 32MB of internal RAM, barely enough but better than 16MB (or none, which some players ship with)
- includes Sennheiser earbud headphones
- recording in one-channel mono is a pain, to be even remotely listenable it would have been nice if the recording was at least two-channel mono (same thing in both speakers). As it is we had to open the file in an audio editing application and convert it to make listening tolerable.
- no separate bass & treble, just factory presets, none of which were what we wanted (not enough bass in any of the presets)
- not very loud, only goes up to 10, we would have wanted it to go up to 13 or so on the scale they were using. Sound tends to get distorted at maximum volume, tested on a variety of different headphones.
- a little light and feels cheap
- buttons too close together and not much tactile feedback
- controls are a little confusing but you get used to them
- only one supplier for proprietary extra memory, and it's not cheap
- parallel interface wasn't very reliable through a printer switch box: we had best results by connecting directly to the PC parallel port: this means you may have to unplug your printer and plug in the RAVE MP cable every time you want to use it. This is of course a pain in the butt since the connector is most likely on the back of your machine where it isn't very easy to get at.
Specs from the horse's mouth:
32MB built-in memory, expandable to 64MB (expansion cards sold separately)
Supports Microsoft Windows 95 & 98
Plays 1 hour of Internet music or 32MB of data (2 hours and 64MB with 32MB upgrade)
Download data at 150 Kbytes/second
2 hours of voice recording with built-in microphone
Store thousands of phone numbers in up to 16 quick access folders
Memo pad for notes, messages & reminders
Delivers skip-free music (no moving parts)
10 hours of continuous play with 1 AA battery
6 equalizer modes: normal, jazz rock, classical, disco & pop
5 play modes: normal, repeat, repeat all, shuffle, shuffle repeat all
Audio software for managing, playing and encoding digital audio files
No docking station required
Final Grade: B
Nice if somewhat toy-like design, OK sound, recording adds to the "gee-whiz" factor but isn't terribly useful. A good entry-level player if you don't mind the factory-preset tone options. Would have liked some sort of protective rubber sleeve to put the player in, it feels like it would shatter if dropped on the pavement, but we didn't actually test this.
•Stephen Donnelly Email
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