We had to think for a minute about the right word to describe the Creative MuVo. It’s small – exceedingly small, in fact – and it’s undeniably clever, useful, wearable, losable, nickable and desirable. But most of all, it’s refreshing. Yup, refreshing.
What makes this nifty little MP3/WMA player-cum-USB flash drive refreshing is its utter, delightful simplicity. There just isn’t anything unnecessary about it at all, which in the current age of ever more complicated, impractical and generally useless multifunction gadgets is a real breath of fresh air.
This is what you get: the MuVo is actually made of two parts, with the memory in one bit and the battery in the other. They fit together to make a single object that looks a little like a cigarette lighter. It measures 73mm end to end, 35mm deep and 16mm thick, and weighs 39g with its single AAA battery installed. In other words it’s tiny, fits effortlessly into the smallest pocket, and weighs next to nothing.
It comes with a neck cord and a set of bud-type headphones on a nice long lead which will stretch easily from a back pocket even if you are seriously tall. A CD with a driver for Windows 98/98SE and a formatting utility is provided, and the package is rounded off with a simple instruction leaflet.
Assuming you have either a Mac running OS 9 or OS X or a PC running Windows ME or later with a USB port, you need nothing else. To connect to a computer, you slide the memory block out, revealing the USB connector at one end, and simply plug it into your machine. Windows ME and later automatically recognises the MuVo as a removable drive, and you can straight away begin dragging and dropping music or data files to it.
Tracks are played in the order they were transferred to the MuVo, and that’s the only head-scratching involved in setting it up. From box to first use, it must be one of the fastest, easiest gadgets we’ve seen.
There’s no LCD screen on the MuVo, so you don’t get playlists, and there are no equalisation controls to fiddle about with. Instead you get the basics – volume, play, pause/stop, repeat phrase/track on six buttons, with a red/green LED indicating that all’s well. It’s perfect for sport – just drag/paste over your selection of music, and get on with it. You can learn to operate it by touch in about one go.
The AAA alkaline battery keeps the MuVo going for around 12 hours, and sound quality was good with both MP3 and WMA files. The bass was punchy and tight, the top end crisp and very clear, and there was bags of clean, undistorted volume. The MuVo may not have been designed with audiophiles first in mind, but it’s a competent effort all the same.
It’s important not to overlook the fact that you are getting more than just an MP3 player with the MuVo. The extreme convenience of having a plug-and-play, USB flash device for swapping 128MB chunks of data between machines cannot be overstated. In fact we could see some people using it more as a roving flash drive than as a music player.
And there you have it. An MP3/WMA player your grandmother could figure out, which weighs less than 40g and can be held, fully concealed in a clenched fist. If only someone would show it to the people who design mobile phones.
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