Oracom UB-890 review

Price when reviewed

With the iPod nano representing the zenith of simplicity and minimalism, the only way for other manufacturers of MP3 players to compete is on either price or features. And, at around £20 less than the 4GB iPod Nano the Oracom UB-890 satisfies the first criteria.

Oracom UB-890 review

It satisfies the second, too, with a list of features that will turn an iPod owner green with envy. Not only is the UB-890 compatible with WMA (including DRM-protected files), MP3 and OGG Vorbis music files, it will also play a variety of video files.

The 2in TFT is bright and renders vibrant colours, although it’s simply too small for anything more ambitious than animated shorts – you certainly wouldn’t want to watch a feature film on a plane with it. Oracom’s Movie Transcoder is included, and allows you to convert MPEG, AVI, WMV and ASF files before transferring them to the player. The UB-890 can also be used for previewing photos BMP, JPEGs and GIF formats are supported.

You also get an FM radio receiver built in. Tuning and saving stations is easy, and we loved the record function. Simply set the time and station preset, and even if the UB-890 is switched off when it’s due to start recording, it will power up for the length of the recording and then switch itself off again. 2GB of onboard memory is enough for around 30 hours of stereo recording. We also appreciate the line-in jack that allows you to record from other sources, as well as the built-in microphone for voice recording and dictaphone duties.

The main problem with the UB-890 is its usability. Those who have used Apple’s sleek interface for browsing through albums and audio tracks will recoil in horror at the Linux-style, directory-based interface. The UB-890 doesn’t work with ID3 tags, and album art isn’t supported either. The touch buttons that you use to navigate the interface leave something to be desired too. They’re not sensitive enough and look like they should click. Coupled with the sluggish interface it tends to leave you unsure whether a keypress had been registered. A final caveat is to ensure that you buy a new set of headphones if you buy one – the included set is awful, offering tinny, indistinct sound.

The Oracom UB-890 has a very wide range of features that for many will make up for the clunky interface and average controls. Watching long videos might not be the most practical proposition, but FM radio recording, voice recording and a line-in jack are all great extras that make the UB-890 more than a simple MP3 player.

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