Apparently taking the expression ‘iPod killer’ a little too seriously, a new MP3 player has appeared on the horizon, going by the name of The Blade. Before the more sadistically inclined ask, the feature set unfortunately doesn’t stretch to self-defence. What it does include is a gigabyte of space for audio and video, with a set of different SRS profiles for your music. Also thrown into the package is a voice recorder and built-in mic, FM radio and trendy set of earphones. The Blade, so named for its wafer-thin 7mm depth, also sports two earphone sockets, handy for a spot of music sharing on the go.
The diminutive form factor really is The Blade’s strength, but even at 7mm it is still teeny bit thicker than the nano. But then again, The Blade will play video as well as music if you should so wish. Sound quality is up to par – the SRS adds some decent bass to the sound, giving it a slight edge (hoho) over many similarly priced players. Ogg Vorbis fans will also be pleased to OGG format support here too.
It comes with the standard set of anti-iPod weapons, the built-in mic probably being the most immediately useful but the FM radio offers reasonable performance as well. The decision to include two sets of headphone sockets is a nice touch too, which sets it aside from most other things on the market.
The battery life isn’t record breaking, but you do get twelve hours of playback from a single charge, which should have you covered.
Sadly, the Blade has one of the more un-user friendly interfaces we’ve seen, which takes a lot of getting used to when you’re learning to use the player. Setting up playlists is a real hassle too because The Blade doesn’t come with any audio management software at all. Drag and drop is pretty much your only option for managing music files. Admittedly, there are plenty of people who prefer a manual approach but it would have been nice to see PlaysForSure compatibility as well.
Although the video playing feature really isn’t bad, the screen is only 128 by 128 pixels, meaning that only the most desperate of telly addicts will want to use it on any kind of regular basis. Unfortunately, the video file converter (The Blade only runs .MSV files) has a nasty tendency to add peculiar scratching sounds to the converted video files and often puts the audio in out of sync.
The buttons are also pretty tough to use on the go, as they’re all very close together and require very exact presses.
1.5 inch TFT colour screen: 260000 colours
Music Formats: MP3/WMA/WMA DRM/OGG
JPEG picture viewer
FM radio player
2 earphone connectors
The Blade suffices as an iPod alternative, but has very few features that lift it out from the crowd. This, combined with its user-unfriendliness, makes The Blade difficult to recommend outright. Its most distinguishing factor is the two 3.5mm jacks which could be enough to swing it for some.