Monday, October 10, 2005

Review: Trio Mach Speed MP3 player (256 mb)

So, I finially bit the bullet and bought myself an mp3 player. Why? The short answer is so that I can listen to podcasts. The long answer is too long to fit in this review.

I bought a player. Why the Mach Speed? Easy, had it for $9.99 (with 3 rebates). I figured for $10.00 I couldn't go too wrong.

I got the device a couple days ago and have used it for a bit of listening. I think I'm ready to give my thoughts on the device.

My initial thoughts when I opened the box were not pretty. They went something like: "yuck! What a big o'l chunk of plastic." Things didn't improve much when I listened to the pre-loaded song, which was a Back Street Boys hit. But it did play music, so I was happy.

Loading mp3's on it couldn't be easier. Just plug it into a USB port on your computer and treat it like any other drive. You can copy files to the root directory or make your own subdirectories. The device doubles as a plain old thumb drive which I think is a good thing. As it saves just a bit of room in my pockets.

I noticed the device came with a fairly lengthy manual (18 pages of English), which implied the device did more than play songs.

It turns out that the manual is a treat in itself. I hope that it was a machine translation from another language (klingon maybe?) because it couldn't decimate the English language more if it tried. Check out this quote as a sample: "More simple under FM interface, it only can do until 3rd step and deleted is preset channel." I kid you not, this is from page 5 of the manual.

Ok, the materials suck, the size is nothing impressive and the manual looks like the ouptiut of a CS 101 random sentance generator. Is there anything good I can say about this device? Of course. The reality is that it seems pretty full featured.

It does all the stuff you would hope it would do, like random play and fast-forward/rewind during a song. It lets you choose equalizer settings and tweak the tempo of the songs. There's even the ability to define a start/end point in a song and play just that segment over and over again - I assume as a tool for learning a song. The device has a built in microphone, which might make it suitable for "low-fi podcasting" especially if I were to try the hack shown here [1].

The bottom line is that if you have a chance to pick up ones of these cheeply (like $9.99 cheap) I'd say go for it. It seems to work more or less as promised. Though I wouldn't recommend picking up one of these guys for full price ($60-70?), you'll be disappointed.

Now that I have my mp3 player, what am I going to do with it? And why am I so excited to have this gadget? Those thoughts wil have to wait for another day. But I hope to share them soon.




  1. Anonymous1:27 PM

    Thanks for the link Ben. That looks like essentially the same device I modded. Please listen to the sound sample I posted and decide whether that's good enough for you before making a hole in your new player though - even with an external mic the sound is still pretty sucky. It might be useful in an emergency but since I found my old minidisc recorder I'm using that instead :)

    In fact you can hear the results here: Mojo Crash.

  2. I think it sounds pretty good. I'm going to hold off though on hacking this device as I'd like to play with it a bit more before I destroy it :-).

    But, hopefully I'll see another one for $10.00 or I'll finally work up the courage to take this one apart.

    Thanks so much for the clever hack and the pointer to Mojo Crash -- what fun.

  3. Anonymous10:13 PM

    I purchased a 1GB Trio Mach Speed MP3 Thumb for about $40 when all rebates were in through

    The device broke in under 30 minutes time. I have little to say except I'm picking up similar reviews on both the and on Mach Speed. It is cheap plastic, even with some overspray spraypaint. The display took a while to read, the guide book was everything Ben said and more. No serial number on my unit and also the warranty card with the unit doesn't even identify that MachSpeed is who built it. I finally through Ecost, who wouldn't honor a refund or exchange , got Machspeed on the phone who have told me at my expense to wrap in bubble, take out all the headphones and other parts and send it to them. They say in 2 weeks I'll either have a repair or replacement unit. Ben I hope yours continues working.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. You managed to talk to the folks at MachSpeed? Cool. Too bad it was to argue with them about getting your device fixed.

    Hopefully, they can communicate better over the phone than they do in their manuals.

    My device continues to work -- though it couldn't look or feel any cheaper if they tried. But, it does get the job done.

    Thanks for the info Ralph.

  6. how do you set random play on this thing?