Like the Creative MuVo reviewed recently on this site, the Cardmedia PenDrive + MP3 combines a portable MP3 player with a removable storage flash memory drive. It’s a sensible combination, since many MP3 players use flash memory anyway.
Looking a lot like a cigarette lighter (intentionally, we suspect), the PenDrive + MP3 consists of two sections. The silver part has the USB connector attached, and can be removed and plugged into the relevant port on the PC. An extension cable is supplied should one be needed, while the supplied CD contains drivers for Windows 98SE – you shouldn’t need them for any newer operating system.
Once the drivers have been installed, the silver part of the drive shows up as the next available drive letter. From here you can drag and drop files, format the drive, apply a security lock to your data and generally treat the drive as though it were any other removable storage device. You can also, of course, copy MP3 files onto it. Capacities range from 64MB to 512MB, although only 64MB, 128MB and 256MB were available at the time of writing this review.
When you’re using the drive solely for data transfer, you don’t need the other half of the device; the silver part can be carried around and plugged into any other PC, allowing you to access your data while on the move. However, if you want to listen to MP3 files, you’ll need the brown part of the gadget. This contains the single AAA battery (which should last all day) and the on/off switch. There’s a headphone socket in the player and a reasonably good set of headphones is provided.
Using the PenDrive + MP3 to play MP3 files is very simple. Switch it on and it will find the first MP3 file stored in the flash memory and begin playing it. You can increase or decrease the volume using either the wheel on the headphones cable or the toggle switch on the device itself; the latter also lets you jump forward and backwards or pause the playback.
Sound quality when playing back MP3 songs was fairly good, although some bass notes were a little distorted; this seemed to be due to the playback mechanism rather than the headphones. The distortion was only heard at higher volume levels, though, so it’s unlikely to be too intrusive in normal use, unless you like the volume so high that everyone around you can share the music…
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