MPeye HTS-200 review
Measuring a tiny 70 x 18 x 43mm, the MPeye is one of the smallest hard disk players we’ve seen. However, it still packs in the features: a 5GB capacity, an FM radio, line-in encoding and a 65,000 colour TFT.
MPeye is claiming that this is the world’s smallest HDD music player, but in this context profile is more important than volume. It’s only 6g lighter than the A-Listed Rio Carbon, and when you put it in a trouser pocket you’ll be reminded that its box-like case certainly isn’t the slimmest.
The screen itself is tiny. With a 30mm diagonal, you’ll spend a good deal of time squinting at the gaudy menu when navigating around – hardly ideal when you’re on the move. It isn’t the easiest player to use when in the pocket either, and even when you’re holding it there’s a complicated series of button presses needed for basic tasks, such as getting to the main File Explorer menu.
Getting music onto the device is child’s play, though. The HTS-200 shows up in Windows Explorer as a removable storage device, allowing you to simply drag and drop folders or files across, or to use Windows Media Player 10’s quick and simple playlist creation. There’s an application supplied, but it’s more focused on customisation and transferring pictures (which can be viewed on the screen or used as menu backdrop) than music.
There are some good features, although they generally come with caveats. We like the line-input MP3-encoding facility, but it uses a non-standard 2.5mm jack; the FM radio tuner provides excellent reception, but is infuriatingly fiddly to use; the headphone amplifier is very powerful, but the earphones aren’t up to the job; and the handy switches for controlling repeat and hold are actually software based. This means they won’t prevent the unit from switching itself on when in a bag – something that happened all too frequently. That isn’t too much of a problem with the 16-hour battery life and the fact that it charges over USB, but it’s an irritating oversight.
The cheaper Rio Carbon offers just a built-in microphone, no radio and no picture-viewing facility, but it remains the easiest to use, slickest player around. Unless you need line-in recording in a tiny unit, it beats the HTS-200 hands down.