256MB MPIO FL300

256MB MPIO FL300

Mpio_MP3 copy.jpgSmaller and better than most larger MP3 players

Month Reviewed: May 2005
Verdict: 8
URL: www.buympio.com

Like the psychotically belligerent short guy you knew in high school, the MPIO FL300 seems determined to prove that its size is no reflection of its abilities. It’s not only the smallest MP3 player we’ve ever tested, but, to our amazement, also one of the most insanely feature-packed, monster-garaged MP3 players in history. Don’t let the dainty size fool you—this baby plays MP3 and WMA files loud as hell, and we’re impressed that a bauble of these proportions can eke out more than 9.5 hours of battery life per charge.

Loading the player couldn’t be easier, as the FL300 shows up as a removable drive in Windows Explorer (as do all the players in this roundup). But while most players will simply dump all the tracks into a single directory, the FL300 can retain folder structures, so you can quickly navigate to the album of a particular artist, or create a playlist by dragging tracks into a folder and then dragging that folder onto the player through Explorer. Why don’t all flash- and hard drive-based players work this way?

Extras range from the practical (custom EQ settings, voice recording through a built-in mic, and audio scanning so you can hear a track as you fast-forward through it) to the ridiculous (like a digital alarm clock that can wake you up with your own MP3s—if you happen to sleep with your earbuds in). The FL300 is so small you can wear it around your neck, stuff it in a pocket, or tuck it behind your ear, but its size will be an annoyance to big oafs with huge paws. And the transfer rate is atrocious, slower than most USB 1.1 players. But the FL300 is still a surprisingly badass player, packed with goodies for nimble-fingered folk. --Logan Decker

+ Buns: Big sound and an orgy of features.

- Puns: Slow transfer rate, and may be too small for some.

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