The last time we saw an innovative new way of controlling media on a portable player it came from iRiver in the form of the Clix 2. In this instance the depressable case controls worked well. Another contender by the name of MiShake has recently stepped up with something even more adventurous.
A decent amount of effort has been put into marketing the device, with an interactive website available that allows you to try out the controls in a virtual environment. Even the packaging is pretty snazzy, and inside you’ll find a USB AC charger and cigarette lighter adaptor, in-ear bud ‘phones and a triangular stylus that ties to the device like a lanyard.
The innovative controls of the MiShake use a technology called Shocktronix, which allows you to perform various functions by shaking the device or tipping it to the left or right. This could be used, for example, to skip audio tracks, videos or photos, or control the various extras on offer that are specifically designed for the system.
It’s a strange idea but comes as more of a secondary control option to the 2.4-inch touchscreen display. The majority of the menus are context-sensitive and appear on screen as you access the various applications. However there is a row of dedicated ‘buttons’ down the right of the display that allow you to change volume and access the main menu, note-taking feature or voice recorder.
There’s 4GB of internal memory on which to store content and a mini-SD slot (you’re supplied with a micro-SD converter) which strangely only accepts up to 2GB capacity cards. Copying audio and photos onto the device is as simple as drag and drop, but video content needs to be passed through the supplied AVI converter software to get it to work. This is quite easy to use, though, allowing batch processing of multiple files, and in our tests it converted and transferred media at a rate of around two minutes per 10MB.
When attempting to play back some content we ran into the first problem with the player, namely that it doesn’t organise anything by categories such as artist, album or genre. This makes it more difficult than necessary to browse and choose from large collections.
We also had some problems with responsiveness of the touchscreen and, despite the small controls, found it easier to use a fingernail than the supplied stylus. There’s not a lot here in terms of media management either, with a limited range of audio environments, no aspect ratio adjustment for video and very little in terms of photo slideshow creation. The quality of the display for video playback is pretty good but audio isn’t up to scratch, even after replacing the rather poor earphones supplied.
In terms of using Shocktronix to control media playback, the best thing we can say about it is that it can be disabled temporarily by locking the player with the power button or turned off altogether through the settings menu. It’s not a particularly effective system and doesn’t add a lot to the existing functionality of the touchscreen.
Even the range of extra features on offer doesn’t particularly redeem the player. There’s an FM radio here that allows you to record content to the internal storage, but the quality of the broadcast reception is fairly poor. The additional tools that take advantage of the Shocktronix system include a digital spirit level, a step counter and a dice roller, all of which actually work fairly well but none will have widespread appeal.
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