MSI – Mega Player 516 BT review

MP3 player that doubles as a Bluetooth phone headset
Photo of MSI – Mega Player 516 BT

Here at IT Reviews we admire products and companies that show innovation and that certain je ne sais quoi, and here’s MSI with its Mega Player 516 BT, which is an MP3 player that doubles up as a mobile phone headset. A marriage made in heaven, no?

The idea is simple. You’re sat on a bus or train listening to your MP3 player when your mobile rings in your pocket. You may hear it, in which case you have to remove your headphones before you can answer the call, but more likely you’ll be oblivious and miss the call altogether. This gadget attempts to solve both problems.

The MP3 part of the Mega Player 516 BT is quite conventional. It has 256MB of flash memory and an SD card slot so you can add more storage if you feel the need. On the installation CD you’ll find a music management application called MP3 Studio which is, frankly, pointless. There are so many decent software packages available free of charge (Apple iTunes and Windows Media Player to name but two) that we fail to see why MSI felt it necessary to supply this software.

Probably the most significant thing on the CD is a copy of DirectX 9, which is definitely not a requirement for any other MP3 player that we have seen to date. You need DirectX 9 to take advantage of the fact that MSI has done something rather clever by adding a Bluetooth connection which allows you to pair the Mega Player 516 BT to your Bluetooth mobile using a standard headset profile.

Then you decide how you want the player to respond when your mobile phone rings. It can either kick in the answerphone immediately or you can use Bluetooth mode which means that the music will stop and you can answer the phone using the headphones.

The headphones include a microphone so they’re quite crucial to the whole operation and this is where the problems start. The headphones are odd things that hook over your ears a bit like the earpieces that you see police officers wearing at airports as they cradle their Heckler and Koch rifles, except that the MSI items look like really big, ugly, silver earrings, and it’s not a look that we much enjoy.

Added to this sartorial nastiness, the headphones use a small 2.5mm jack instead of the normal 3.5mm item which means that you can’t change them and the problem is that the MSI sounds awful, with audio that is both muffled and crackly.

It’s probably the headphones at fault rather than the player itself but as we couldn’t swap the ‘phones over we can’t be sure. What we can say for certain is that the MSI Mega Player 516 BT is the second worst sounding MP3 player we have ever heard. The worst was a Packard Bell thing back in 2002.

Company: MSI

Contact: 020 8813 6688

On paper we love the MSI Mega Player 516 BT but in practice it is let down by awful music quality, and the music management software just adds to the feeling that this product wasn't properly thought through. The idea of an MP3 player that doubles up as a mobile phone headset has real potential but we'll have to wait for version two to see if the potential is realised, hopefully with much better quality headphones.