Jens of Sweden MP-500 – review
We’re proud to present the world’s first review of the new feature packed credit card sized audio & video player MP-500 from Jens of Sweden. Pictures and video inside.
The new Jens of Sweden MP-500 is a real eye-catcher. It looks good and is packed with functionality. Before I unpacked the player I had read that it was small, but I weren’t expecting it to be that small.
When you read the list of features you probably will be quite impressed: Video playback, FM radio, line-in recording capabilities, dictaphone recording with built-in microphone, USB host mode which makes it possible to plug your camera to it, watch with alarm, photo viewer, text viewer. Phew, as you can see this player is packed with goodies.
Unpacking the player
Inside the box you’ll find the player – and nothing else. No manual.
No USB cable Apparently there is supposed to be a USB cable in the box. Nothing more than the player. In my review kit I got the a bit more than comes with the player ( Koss Portapro headphones, charger, manual and a wiping cloth). But if you already got headphones and a USB cable – you don’t really need another pair, so that’s good thinking from Jens of Sweden.
When you turn on the player for the first time, you get to see a short video sequence of an animated Jens of Sweden logotype. This was cool the first two or three times you turned the player on – but just wait until you switch it on for the 100th time, I don’t think it’s possible to skip it.
As soon as you plug the player into your computer – using a standard USB cable – you’ll find the manual as a PDF-file, a MP3-song, a music video and a couple of images. My player was fully charged so I could instantly start playing with the MP-500.
Filling up the player with albums and songs is very straight forward. Just drag and drop the files you want to download to the player and they’re get transfered. Nothing to complain about here – transfer speed is fast. A typical MP3 album of 75MB is transfered in about 20 seconds or so.
Using the player
The user interface and menu system of the MP-500 is bad. Nothing is intuitive, and the first hour with the player is a struggle! To be able to use a MP3-player properly, you really shouldn’t be forced to read the manual and LEARN things to get going. The main problem is that they seem to have combined three different menu systems, one file browsing menu, one configuration menu and some kind of main menu. Compared to an iPod, the menu system is complicated and difficult. And no, it ain’t just me – I had a few friends play around with the menus just to hear their spontaneous comments. They were of the same opinion – the user interface simply isn’t top notch. “Complicated”, “How do I…”.
I’d love to see a firmware upgrade with a re-built menu system. The current one is quite a pain to use.
I have recorded a short sequence below where you can see the video capabilities of the MP-500. The screen resolution is 128 x 128 pixles and the screen size is 1.6″ capable of displaying 262 000 colors. When you want to see a video on your MP-500, you need to get through the first obstacle – the encoding process. Forget just draggin and dropping your favorite Xvid, MPEG or DivX files – you have to encode them using a software tool that can be downloaded for free from Jens of Sweden’s homepage. With my quite fast Pentium 4 3.2GHz PC it took roughly 45 minutes to encode 45 minutes of Xvid material. So if you want to stack a whole season of your favorite TV show in the MP-500, be sure to to plan ahead.
Check out this video to see it in action:
One hour of encoded video (setting high quality) takes roughly 100MB of your storage, so having a movie or two on your player will still leave you plenty of room for music and pictures. One good thing is that you can encode your video with subtitles (just place a .srt-file in the same directory as your video file, and start the encoding).
One bad thing is that I wasn’t able to encode NTSC videos to my player (no Lost, no Prison Break or other american 29.997
23.997 frames per second videos) with the current version of the JoS transcoder – but hopefully this is just a bug that will be taken care of in coming versions. It seems to be a frame rate problem since I haven’t had any problems with my European 25 frames per second videos.
Sound quality & Music files
But the most important part of a MP3 player is the sound quality, and the MP-500 truly delivers. All songs I’ve listened to sounds really crisp and clear. Top of the line decoding. The equalizer modes (Normal, Classic, Jazz, Pop, Rock) where usable, and I might even use the sound enhancement modes (SRS, TRUBASS, WOW) in some occasions. You can play MP3- (surprise), WMA- and OGG-files.
Bells and whistles
The MP-500 is packed with functionality. You get recording capabilities with Line-in, a built-in microphone, built-in FM radio, built-in stereo speakers, a watch, alarm, USB-host mode, display text documents, view photos – there’s a lot in here. If the user interface just would have been a bit better.
The MP-500 looks great, sounds great and is packed with functionality. It’s an eye-catcher, and will get you attention if thats what you’re looking for. Battery time is great (15 hours audio and 8 hours video), the sound quality is excellent and even the built-in speakers sounds good – but there’s one problem with the player and that is the menu and navigtion system – it’s really non-intuitive and just too darn complicated – you have to LEARN how to use it. If that will be fixed in an upcoming firmware, this is a great player!
The 1GB version cost $190 and the 2GB version cost $240.
+ Looks good
+ Great sound quality
+ FM radio
+ Recording capabilities
+ Stereo speakers
+ USB host mode
- Non-intuitive menu system
- Not capable of encoding NTSC material properly (at least in current version)
- Real tiny reset button (you need a needle)
Update, 8:th of February Jens of Sweden have published a firmware upgrade to fix the navigational problems. You can find the new firmware here.
Memory: 1GB & 2GB
Size: 81 x 40 x 13 mm
Weight: 51 grams
Speakers: Built in stereo speakers
Microphone: Built in microphone
Charging Time: 2-3 hours (30 min with charger)
Working Temperature: -5C – 40C
O/S: Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP/2003, Mac 10.2, Linux 2.4.0 or later.
Connection: USB port
Firmware type: Upgradeable
Languages: English, Swedish
Video file support: MP4 (WMV, AVI, ASF, MPG, MPEG) *
Video resolution:128 x 112
Music file support: MP3, WMA and OGG
Bit Rate, MP3 8 Kbps – 320 Kbps (Supports VBR)
Bit Rate, WMA 32 Kbps – 192 Kbps
Bit Rate, OGG 44 Kbps – 500 Kbps (Q1 – Q10
Sound Enhancement: SRS/TRUBASS/WOW
Equalizer: Normal, Classic, Jazz, Pop, Rock and 5 User EQs
ID3 Tags: V1, V2
Headphone Output: 10 mW + 10 mW
Speaker Output: 110 mW + 110 mW
Frequency Range: 20 Hz – 20 KHz
SN Ratio: 90 dB (FM Radio: 50dB)
Display size: 1.6 inches
Type: Color TFT LCD
Colors: 260K Colors
Resolution: 128 x 128
* When converted with the provided transcoder
Jens of Sweden: MP-500 [JensofSweden.com]
/Mikael – Fosfor Gadgets
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