When first turning the S.Beat MP3 on you are presented with a sound wave and then the logo as seen above it lights up the colour blue, this lasts for about 4 seconds which by that time the player mode comes on the LCD. Even though the screen is really small Swissbit have made a mirrored face around the LCD which really makes the display seem a lot brighter and sharper when in-use for some reason.
Maybe itís the way the screen lights up making the mirror catch the light. This did became a problem when outdoors on a sunny day because you can hardly see anything on the LCD as sunshine reflects on the screen, but because the S.Beat has a remote control once the MP3 in playing you shouldnít really have to look at the LCD that much while out and about.
As mentioned before the main operation button for the device is the joystick which navigates up to five different ways, Left/Skip track/Speed search button, Right/Skip track/Speed button, Up/Volume control/Delete, Down/Volume control/Menu button and finally middle press for Power on/off/Play/Pause and Menu (double press), this worked fantastically and with ease. Letís transfer some files onto this device and see how the playback quality is.
After Giving the MP3 a full charge and plugging the device in to my PC it was detected straight away and was named S.Beat. As this is a recognized mass storage device all you do is drag and drop your files into the player, the supported file formats are MP3/WMA/WAV. Also most types of text documents such as PDF/text documents/PPT are supported as well and playback scrolled across screen.
The files I added where MP3ís and they went on the mass storage device with great efficiently and I was ready to get go within minutes. It performed in transfer mode as well as any other 1 gig flash disk I have used.
The display has all the information crammed into just 3 lines which are starting from top left: Volume/EQ/Play Mode/File Format/Battery indicator/Title Artist/Playtime and Track which is all readable. Also if your music files have tags they will be displayed in the middle of the LCD and continuously run by. This player has a running time of about 8 hours which is expected in this day and age but whatís different is it can be charged up using the world charger in as less then 2.5 hours, pretty cool.
As said above these are some of the other settings within the menu section and they are really readable just like in playback mode. The S.Beat uses simple text as you can see to make this player a user friendly device and I think Swissbit have hit the nail on the head with this. There are 6 functions available: Music/Record/Book/Voice/Fm Radio/Files and settings, once you have found the option you want you press right to get in to the sub menu, but you have to be quick as the player will auto return to the previous mode if no buttons are press after 3 seconds.
Once within the sub menus i.e. Music, there are 6 different options to choose from within here and they are, Play list/select a play list, Artist/Plays only select artists, CD/ play a whole CD, Style/ID3 tags, Sort/sorts file alphabetically and All, which plays songs in order of storage. Once you have made your choice and press down, up pops a little hour glass icon and a percentage bar to show you how long the progress is going to take. What I used mostly was the CD mode to just search for the album I wanted to listen to at that time, but all the modes work brilliantly and were easy to use.††
Also Within these sub menus are of course many other sub menus for you to finely tune your MP3 to your own personal specs just as in SETTINGS which has 8 functions such as Display settings, Language, sound effect, Power save, FM radio to mention a few. As with many Mp3s on the market these days the S.Beat MP3 has an built-in FM stereo radio which can store up to 15 different stations, this worked reasonably well as you have the use the headphones as the aerial. the S.Beat MP3 is also a Voice/Recorder as mentioned earlier but you can also record 48kbits from the FM radio or use the 3.5mm headphone jack as a line in to record that favourite tune you have been waiting to hear.
All recordings are stored in order of when recorded=V001/V002 and are saved in the RECORD Folder and they will be recorded into WAV files. I couldnít wait to test this function out as it was a first for me and I found that both modes worked excellently, even the built-in microphone that is under the face plate picked up my voice with great sounding quality from quite far away, Outstanding.†
The S.Beat is even equipped with an Audio Book Feature which is fantastic for learning languages, for revision or just listening to your favourite book author. The file listing Function is another added bonus this stores all youíre added files to the FILES folder. This feature allows you to store a selected type of file which are: DOC (PDF/XLS/DOC or IMG (JPG/BMPTIF/GIF) to the S.Beat and they will be displayed, using the UP/DOWN navigation pad to go though the list. Now thatís enough of all the technical stuff lets test what the sound is like and plug in the headphones which accompany this device.
The S.Beat has Outstanding sound quality through the supplied headphones that again not once did I get the farting noise/hissing you sometimes get when the volume is high, they fitted comfortably in your ear and not once did they fall out while exercising. The added remote control is really touch sensitive though and you could easily skip a couple of songs when you think youíve only pressed it once. Not all MP3s on the market come with this added remote control so you have to always fumble around with the device to get to that favourite tune.
The S.Beat has the longest headphone string I have ever seen on any MP3 player which I found was much better then the standard ones that rest in the middle of your chest, these can become really uncomfortable but with these ones you can have the player resting where ever feels right for you. The headphones were also one of the most comfortable I have had the pleasure of using and Swissbit should be proud of the choice they made here (Top Marks Swissbit).
I was really interested to test also was the parallel listening feature as this is another first for me and I wasnít disappointed at all, the sound was just as good. Usually when sharing your music from an MP3 you have to have one headphone piece each, but with the added 3.5mm addition makes sharing that bit more personal.
I was disappointed that the S.Beat MP3 didnít include a ĎOff Status Memorizerí or a ĎFriendly Fade Playbackí function which might not sound all that important to you but when out and about and you have to switch the S.Beat off and then back on again the player starts right from the beginning of what ever album you where listening to. This can be a pain because you just heard that a couple of minutes ago. The friendly fade back is easier on the ears as you get through each song, but it would have been nice to see these features.
Which brings me nicely on to the sports accessory the S.Beat comes with, this is outstanding from Swissbit as not many MP3 players come with this feature, you usually have to just tuck the MP3 under your clothing or in pocket while jogging around because itís always moving about. But this Arm strap is fantastic for any type of activity as your player is not going to go anywhere but stay where its strapped. I tested the strap out for myself while doing jogging, yoga, aerobics and gardening, the strap did not once fault me in any way, I was not at all worried about the player falling out because the rubber belt surround holds the MP3 really securely.
As pictured above the rubber holder has cut outs within the sides so you can still access the navigation pad and all the Swiss army knife tools..
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