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BenQ Joybee 150 Digital Audio Player (128MB) Review

BenQ Joybee 150 Digital Audio Player (128MB)

BenQ Joybee 150 Digital Audio Player (128MB)
Site: BenQ.co.uk
Date: Dec 2003
Price: £119 RRP for 128mb version | £159 RRP for 256mb
Buy UK: Amazon | Currys/PCW | Dabs | eBuyer | John Lewis | Novatech |
Buy Int: Amazon.com | Compsource  Compare prices: Kelkoo
Use: MP3/WMA Player, FM Radio, Ebook function all for a unit smaller than a mini disc!!!

BenQ Joybee 150 Digital Audio Player

BenQ you may of heard of them you may not. If you havent you should listern up as they are a growing brand who have various product lines including wireless networking [click here] optical drives, monitors and other visual products like projectors, and in this review we will be looking at the new Joybee 150. BenQ have released two previous encarnations of the Joybee namely the Joybee 100 & 120. It may be of intrest to you that BenQ will be a majot IT partner in next years Euro 2004 championships, for more info click here for the press release [here]

Audio players have long been a popular choice for a gadget or a must have, enabling the masses to listern to a favourite song whilst on the move. The MP3 player market is a growing but often crowded market with many similar devices avalaible but none other anyhting new or intergrated.... till now the BenQ Joybee 150 includes serveral features and with a unit half the size of rival products.

Specifications:

Flash Drive Capacity 64MB/128MB/256MB
USB Standard 1.1 Version
O/S Supported Windows 98/SE/ME/2000/XP
Driver Software Driverless (USB plug and play) except Windows 98
Supported MP3 Bit-rate MPEG 1 Layer 32Kbps - 224Kbps
MPEG 2 Layer 16Kbps - 160Kbps
Battrey Lithium-ION Typical 450mAh 3.7V
Time of Continuous use after full charge Up to 10hrs
Dimensions 60 * 60 * 12.8mm
Weight 39.5g (minus batt)

What you get:

BenQ Joybee BoxBenQ Joybee Contents

Joybee 150 Unit (inc rechargable batt)
Earphones
USB Cable
Software & Drive CD-ROM
User Manual
Remote Controller (inline)
Battrey Charger
Leather Strap & Carry Pouch
Warranty Card
Quick Start Guide

The Unit:

BenQ Joybee

1) LCD Display 2) ON/OFF/Play Button
3) Stop Button 4) Power Switch - Slideable
5) Previous Track F.Rewind 6) Next Track FFWD
7/8) Vol Up / Down 9) Section Repeat / Time Lengh
10) Equalizer / Fram Repeat 11) Mic for Voice Recording
12) Wired remote control jack 13) Earphone Jack
14) Hand Strap Hole 15) USB/Charger Port
16) Line In Jack

Wow! When I first saw the size of this i was amased at how small it was and the colour and styling of the case impressed me very much. The unit caseing is made from brushed aluminium as far as i can tell and it looks great and has a mirrored effect to it.

BenQ Joybee Side View

BenQ Joybee another Side View

I really like the nice touches like keeping similar styles buttons on the unit as well as embossing helpful connector names on the reverse of the Joybee.

BenQ Joybee FaceonBenQ Joybee Rear view

After I had worked out how to switch it on, I hunted around for a mini disc so that i could compare the size. The Joybee is twice the thickness of a mini disc and around 1cm smaller on width, and just short of 1 cm high, this makes it extremly small and compact especially when you think about all the features it crams in.

Profile against a Mini-discProfile against a Mini-disc

Using the Joybee:

It took me just a few minutes to suss out how to navigate and select the menus of the Joybee, it is very simple with easy layout of menus. On the left hand side you use the next track (6) button to move down the menus then to select that menu you press the play button (2) if you want to exit to a previous menu use the stop (3) button on the right hand side to jump back a menu and that's essentially it.

Splash Screen

Menu Screen

Once you've charged the Joybee you can start to explore its functions fully, first thing I did was get comfortable with the unit itself and got used to the buttons. I then installed the software so I could copy over some tracks. The playback of this was really good and how you would expect from the usual cd / mp3 quality we are all accustomed to.

Menu ScreenMenu Screen
Remote Control

I firstly copied over 12 wma files to the unit, which in total took about 30secs to zip across. The wma files are smaller (almost half of mp3 size) so although you lose some quality you can fit even more tracks onto the 128/256mb versions. You can copy music and data directly to the drive but the software makes it easier to admin and view easily.

Radio playback was good and very simple to tune it is a FM only tuner and includes 30-channel selection. You could if you wanted use this in the exact same way as a usb pen drive, simply drag the files to the folder on the unit and your set.

The built in mic worked quite well it is ideal for 'note to self' moments, but for mainstream dictation I would recommend using a additional external mic. You can easily select the notes on the unit or play them / copy them to your pc for later listening. You can also record directly to the device via the line-in connector so you can connect various devices including cd, mini disc, and guitars to record directly from the source onto your unit into mp3 format files easily and quickly.

Software:

CD Autorun Screen

You can start using this as soon as the internal battery has been charged you can connect it directly to your pc and drag and drop mp3/wma files directly to the unit. Although it makes sense especially for first time users to use the Q-Music2 software provided,

Q-Music2 Software:

CD Software

CD Software

CD Software

This software allows you to play cd's copy tracks to mp3 format (copyright permitting) view directories, add files, make up play lists and either burn mp3 cd's (if you have a burner installed). If you are familiar with the Nero and similar programs which have the same type of interface for adding files to your drive then you will pick this up straight away.

Folder View

For example if you have a audio cd inserted you can tick the songs you want to convert from wav to mp3 and click the action button. The conversion depends on the length of a track but a 6.30 track took around a minute to convert, once converted you can select it from the newly created directory and copy it if desired directly to your Joybee.

Thoughts - Easy to use simplified cd player, 8/10.

With the Benq software itself you get a copy of the manual & a manual about lyric editing and conversion both in pdf, a link to check for updates, and a program, which allows you to edit the start-up and shut down screens of the Joybee. So if you like adding logos etc to the start-up of your mobile phones then you can also create something on the Joybee.

CD Software

CD Software

Sandra 2004 Benchmark:

Sandra Benchmark

Thoughts:

I LOVE THIS DEVICE! - Well maybe not the L word but you get my meaning, it is a great little unit. I have been looking on the mp3 scene for a while now and the majority of players are based on the usb memory stick type (sub £90). Then if you look at the next price mark up say £120-£150 you get some really nice looking iriver models but they in my opinion can be a bit bulky or just annoying having a toblerone styled mp3 player. The next point up is various shapes and sizes till you hit the iPod price range and they are really different as they are 10gb etc of space not the 128MB but perfectly adjacent here.

For the price of £107 (at time of writing) This unit is unbelievably good, for 128mb player on its own on various sites you would be looking at around the £70-£110 mark. This gives a 30-channel FM radio, an inline remote for use with the headphones, a built in voice recorder and the addition of line-in. A nice little carry pouch to protect your unit and stop nasty fingerprints appearing on the polished surface.

That's not enough you say well the ability to use the same usb out for charging and transfer saves space, the looks of the unit in polished aluminium makes this look great, it is available in other colours but the silver looks the best. Most people when they try to illustrate the size of a unit would take a picture next to a cigarette packet... no point really as one I don't have one, and two a mini disc illustrates it better.

Great value for money, plenty of features and the size of the unit is astounding. Highly reccomended. Easy to use and setup, Belkin lifetime warranty
& support is a nice bonus.