With the Digital Audio Player (DAP) Jukebox, Creative Labs has certainly taken a new approach to MP3 players. Rather than manufacturing a tiny bit of kit that slips into your trouser pocket and holds a couple of tracks this monster of a gadget can hold around 150 MP3 albums without any add-on memory cards or fancy compression.
First the facts: the DAP looks exactly like a Sony Discman, measuring 140x135x32mm, and weighing in at a hefty 450g (that's about as heavy as a can of Pepsi). S3's Rio 600 by contrast is light as a feather (68g) and very small, fitting neatly into any pocket.
However, don't let size put you off. As well as accommodating all that music on its whopping 6Gb hard drive (isn't that the biggest dedicated hard drive you've ever heard of?!!), the DAP boasts a heady mix of settings to play with. They give the Jukebox far more usability than your ordinary MP3 player. You get parametric equalisation (that's changing the bass, mid and treble to you, mate), and environmental settings that give the experience of listening in a club, concert hall or stone room -- because, you know, we all hang out in stone rooms...
One line in and two line out sockets mean you can plug in some speakers and party away, using the DAP as a home stereo system. There's an infra-red port at the front, and Creative might well bundle a remote control some time in the future.
Downloading tracks and then searching by album, artist or genre is a cinch and a credit to the hardworking Creative lads who have lived in the shadow of Diamond and then S3 for far too long. The software can rip a CD in about 12 minutes and transfer files via USB at the same time.
The DAP Jukebox really is a love it or hate it bit of equipment, and it boils down to how you plan to use an MP3 player. Although it will squeeze into a (big) jacket pocket, it lacks the sleek sophistication of one of the tiny MP3 players and its size may be a turn off. However, if you're going to be away from your PC for more than a couple of days, it allows you to take an awful lot of music with you.
Big downer is battery life: four hours and you can't use ordinary batteries (they'd last less than 20 minutes), so if you are taking it hiking, bring a plug and a power source with you!
In the shops before Christmas. £350 inc. VAT.
- Creative Labs Dap Jukebox
- MP3 player with 6Gb memory, that will hold 150 CDs
- Weighs around 450g
- Sophisticated audio controls
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