TrekStor’s Vibez media player has several innovative features we really dig; unfortunately, these innovations are undone by a few less desirable traits.
Let’s start with the upside: The Vibez is one of the few portable players that can handle the ultra-high bitrate of music encoded using Microsoft’s WMA Lossless codec. Not a WMA fan? Not to worry; it’ll also play FLAC, WAV, OGG, and MP3 files. And if you prefer to rent your music from an online service, the device also supports PlaysForSure tracks. We wish every player were as versatile.
The Vibez sounds terrific with the much-better-than-average Sennheiser earbuds TrekStor bundles with it. The player offers 8GB of storage capacity but uses a one-inch hard drive in place of the more common flash memory. This drive proved remarkably resistant to skipping, even as we tossed the device around and dropped it several times onto hard surfaces.
OK, now let’s go over the Vibez’s many downsides. Although it’s a half-inch longer and wider than SanDisk’s Sansa e200–series players, its display is nearly one-third smaller (1.5 inches versus the Sansa’s 1.8 inches). You can choose almost any image for background art, but the user interface inevitably obscures it. What’s worse is that when track lists are displayed over album art or other complex images, you can’t see the art or read the track list.
In an all-too-familiar attempt to emulate Apple’s control wheel, TrekStor’s engineers designed a gigantic rubberized wheel for navigating the device’s user interface. As we rotated the wheel with our thumb, we encountered detents that required additional pressure to move beyond. About 80 percent of the time, we’d push too hard and click the button beneath the wheel, unintentionally calling up one menu or another.
We respect the Vibez’s agnostic approach to file-format support, we dig its price tag, and we love the fact that we can add features like an FM radio or video player down the road. It sounds great, too. But its usability failings drive us nuts.
Plays a ton of file formats, and sounds great when doing so!
Tiny display, crappy user interface, highly annoying wheel-thingy.