LG – JM53 review

8GB portable music player
Photo of LG – JM53
£169

At first glance it’s tricky to see how you control the LG JM53. It’s the size of a mobile phone (101 x 48 x 14mm) yet the front of the player only carries a 45mm OLED screen with no sign of any control buttons or navigation controls.

Under the screen it looks like the JM53 should open like a flip phone but no, you have to investigate further. On the left side of the player are the headphone jack, microphone and controls lock switch, and on the right are buttons that carry legends that identify their functions without spelling out what they do.

The quick start guide isn’t a great deal of help and it took a few minutes to figure out that the A-B button is a shuffle function, the Menu button is more confusing than you might expect and the EZ button (EZ = Ee Zee = Easy, geddit?) is where you change audio settings while a track is playing.

The Play/Pause button works normally but as it is located opposite the headphone jack it’s surprisingly tricky to operate as it requires a deliberate push, and then we come to the main navigation control which is a wonder to behold. It’s located on the back of the player at the top and is a sort of flipper that you use to scroll up and down menus and then jog inwards to make your selection.

As the controller is located on the top edge of the player you effectively jog on the diagonal which is unintuitive and a complete pain in the fundamentals. Either side of this control are Next/Previous rocker controls.

The quick start guide is next to useless so it took us a good half hour to come to terms with this player, when most devices yield their secrets within five minutes. Indeed, the quick start guide mainly covers the LG Media Center software which you can use to organise the JM53, however once the software has scanned your hard drive for music, movies and photos you then have to drag and drop individual files to transfer them.

This is an appalling idea for a player with 8GB capacity. Instead you can ignore the software and drag and drop in Windows Explorer or you can use Windows Media Player 10 to perform a more intelligent synchronisation. The JM53 only supports MPEG4 movies so you have to use the ‘convert format’ feature in Media Center to convert any movies to 160 x 128 pixels, which took 12 minutes for a 45 minute TV show yet the player still refused to recognise the format.

So you’ve loaded the player with media and have turned it on. You’ve ignored the ‘System Loading’ message and you’ve got past the ‘rebuilding library’ message that appears each time you disconnect the USB cable, as well as the ‘Update firmware?’ question that it poses every single time you turn it on.

Use the flipper to navigate to music, jog to accept and you’re away, once you’ve figured out that the Menu button only displays your playlists and albums once you have entered the music, photos or movies folder. It has to be a long button push as a short push simply returns you to the main menu. With a track playing you can use the EZ button to change EQ settings but by this stage you simply won’t care.

Life is too short to spend so much effort learning the LG way to listen to music, when almost every other player on the market is easier to use and offers a more useful set of features.

Company: LG

Contact: 01753 491500


Verdict
You can bet that the design team at LG examined MP3 players made by Apple, Archos and Creative to see what they were up against, but you'd be hard-pressed to believe it as the LG53 is utterly impractical and brings nothing to the MP3 party.