Sweex – Blue Bay review

budget 2GB MP3 player
Photo of Sweex – Blue Bay
£TBC (expected around £50-60 )

Sweex is a firm which, over the past year or two, has slowly but surely positioned itself against the likes of Trust at the budget end of the hardware market. The company’s 2GB, solid state Blue Bay MP3 player clearly expresses that intention, thanks to bog standard blister packaging that finds room to scream ‘Manual On CD’ as a feature.

Things aren’t enhanced when you break into the packaging, either. First impressions of the Blue Bay are that it feels, looks and is cheap. From the unconvincing rubber-esque finish to the product’s low cost feel, its first impressions are hardly convincing.

By now you’ll no doubt be waiting for the cunning part of the review that suddenly does a U-turn and reveals the product in question to be a startling surprise. That’d be clever, if a little overused. This, sadly, isn’t that review. But nonetheless, while there’s no about-turn, you might still like to indulge us a quick left.

For there are elements about this device that work well. It’s capacious for its asking price, for instance (handy if you’re looking for it to double up as a flash storage drive), and it also is a breeze to use. It connects directly into a USB port, you drag your music over to the device, and that’s that.

ID3 tags are supported, although there’s no joy with playlists, which is a troubling issue on a 2GB device. It supports MP3 and WMA files, boasts a surprisingly competent voice recorder and has a limited equalizer function that adjusts settings based on one of a handful of presets.

And, ultimately, the sound quality from the unit really isn’t too bad at all. Even the GUI is passable, thanks to a clear display with a choice of seven different backlight colours.

Those niceties aside, it’s time to head back down the original road, as there are more problems to discuss. The headphones in particular aren’t pleasant. They have the feel of a budget Christmas decoration, and while the output from them is good enough, they aren’t comfortable to wear for any prolonged period of time.

More worryingly, on virtually every album we loaded onto the device, we experienced jumpy playback on at least one track. It’s as if the device is struggling to read and output the data in good time, and that’s a major failing for any music playback device.

Company: Sweex


Verdict
The decent number of pros and uncomfortable number of problems leaves us with a device that has some flexibility in how you use it, and a welcoming price tag, yet ultimately there's no real reason why you would choose it above any other music player. And when it struggles to adequately play back music - surely the core function of any such device - you know that there are problems.