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Products I Use: Kingston KPEX100/2GB

My birthday is just a few days before Christmas so what I end up getting is sometimes pot luck.  However, this year, I got some money to spend on the things that I wanted.  One of them was an updated music player.  I had purchased an inexpensive MP3 player six months ago but it wasn’t really meeting my needs – I had spent $20 on it so I wasn’t too disappointed.

After searching I found only a few music players that would take the miniSD cards that I already had for my phone.  Most devices have switched over to the microSD form factor.  Which just means buying more memory.  I already had two 1GB miniSD cards.  One for my phone and one for the MP3 player.  I didn’t want to invest in buying more.

I wanted to have swappable memory because I hate installing drivers for music devices and such on the computer.  Eventually you end up with conflicts and it’s just not worth it.  So having a spot for the memory was a must.  I also wanted an FM radio.  I hardly ever listen to the radio but I’ve found a handful of times when it would have been useful to be able to figure out what’s going on with a traffic jam, the weather, etc.

I settled on the KPEX 100/2GB because it had the miniSD slot, and came with onboard memory.  All-in-all it’s a solid unit.  It will play WMA and MP3 files which makes it easy to sync music with Windows Media Player.  It supports a repeat mode of one file, a directory, all, or shuffle – mostly good enough for what I want and need.  It has basic EQ settings which are almost useless, a lock setting to prevent accidental button punches, which is good, and the ability to transfer data to and from the onboard memory.

In addition to the music and file management functions, it can display photos, play movies, show text files, etc.  For me mainly, things that are interesting but not important.  One interesting thing is that it can host USB devices (think thumb drives, hard drives, etc.)  I don’t know why you would use it for that but hey, it’s included.

One other interesting idea is the ability to use it as a recorder.  Although I’ve not tried it, I’ve occasionally thought about trying to get a good quality recorder so I could do readings for Podcasts, etc., without the computer.  Again, interesting but not essential.

The device has a solid life time on the internal non-changeable battery.  It’s rated for 17 hours.  It might be getting that – it’s certainly getting more than 12 hours.

But life isn’t all rosy.  There are some simple things that are clearly missing – and oh by the way I already know that this device isn’t the only one missing them.  The most annoying thing that’s missing is a mode where the device disconnects from the computer’s data USB path but charges and performs other functions.  I would love to be able to plug it into USB when the internal battery has been depleted and have it just keep playing music.  Right now you can put it into a fast charge where it does nothing but charge, or a USB connected mode where it charges while providing access to the files to the computer to which it’s attached.  It seems trivial to allow the unit to disconnect from the USB’s data path while still taking power to charge the battery.

In addition to the scenario above, what about if you connected it to an external USB battery pack or similar… you definitely want it to allow you to play music – but it won’t.

The idea of charging the device on the road brings us to another issue.  The connector that it uses isn’t a standard miniUSB connector.  It’s something non-standard.  As a result the cables that I already have won’t charge it.  I have to remember to bring their special cable – or live without the device.

Finally, with a device that stores 2GB of music it’s a crime to not support playlists.  I wouldn’t care if I had to create them on the PC and copy them over, having a thousand songs on the device is fine and most of the time I want shuffle mode, there are times when I want just upbeat music, just one genre,or just one artist, etc.  Doing that is essentially impossible with this unit.

Despite the negatives, it’s a unit that I’ll be hanging on to for a while.  Maybe I can convince Kingston to at least fix the power issue and the ability to add playlists.