Saturday, April 30, 2011

RCA Pearl Review

I had my reservations about the RCA Pearl. Since RCA isn't known as a popular mp3 player manufacturer and the Pearl was very reasonably priced, I expected that the Pearl might have less than stellar quality.  However, I was pleasantly surprised. Read on to learn my impressions.

Once I loaded the Pearl with my songs, my first impression was "Wow. The sound isn't bad!" The sound was crisp, clear, and lacked static noise. (Of course, sound quality largely depends upon the headphones or earphones used, but the MP3 player has some effect on the sound quality.)  My songs sounded almost as clear as if they were coming out of my computer speakers. Even the radio feature is very good, considering that it has no antenna. Since the ear buds act as the antenna to pick up the radio signal, playing the radio in stereo is tricky and requires some repositioning of the ear bud cords.

"The sound quality is good," but you may be wondering, "How practical is the Pearl to use?" RCA got a few features right, but others could use improvement.

If you are looking for a player that is so easy to use that you don't even have to read the manual, you may find this device lacking. After reading the quick start manual, however, you should be on your way. The left, right, up, and down buttons are self-explanatory. However, the power button and the menu button are the same button, which may cause some confusion. The user interface is not a standard mp3 menu layout, but again, read the user manual and navigation will be easy.

The user interface is somewhat hampered by the tiny screen. If many songs are loaded on the Pearl, it is quite unpractical to scroll through all the songs to get to a single song. The same thing is true with scrolling through large numbers of artists, generes, settings menus, etc.

The Pearl with its flip out USB extended

One of my favorite features of the Pearl is the ease of transferring songs to the player. First, flip out the USB connector and plug it into the USB port on your computer. Then you have two options. You can simply use the RCA easyRip application to transfer the music from your computer to the player or go to Computer from your computer's Start Menu. From there, you will see the RCA Pearl icon. Open a separate window containing the music you want to transfer to the Pearl and select the desired songs. Just drag the songs you have selected to the Pearl Icon and drop them there.

The Pearl has an ample amount of storage (2 GB) for my use. According to my estimation, that should hold about 370 songs at 5 megabit per song. However, if you have or plan to have a large music collection, this will definitely be too small for you. It is also quite impractical to have that many songs stored on the Pearl because of the afforementioned screen.
The Pearl is fairly thick

One of my not-so-favorite features of the Pearl is its bulk. It weighs one and three-fourths ounces. Its battery compartment and optional belt clip makes it quite thick at three-fourths of an inch. If you want something light for exercising, you might want to buy a different player. This mp3 player tends to flop around even when it is clipped to the wearer's clothing.

The battery life of a Pearl is satisfactory and has several options for battery savings. However, you will likely want to have a pair of rechargeable batteries.

All in all, the Pearl provides respectable sound quality with a tolerable user interface at a very affordable price.

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