Friday, October 19, 2012

The Kube2 Mp3 Player Review

Today we’ll look at an mp3 player with a unique distinction: it is the world’s smallest touch screen mp3 player. Is the $50 Kube2 a good buy? Read my full review to find out!

In the Box
In the box, you get a Kube2 Mp3 player, a skin (the blue sticker on the right), a 4GB MicroSD card with USB card reader, a pair of earphones, and a charging cable.

Note: The first Kube2 I received worked for about a half hour, then it shut itself off. After that, it would turn on but no music would play. I tried recharging it, turning it off, and deleting the music from the memory card. Nothing worked. It seems that the unit was defective. After a little googling, I found this customer review on Amazon. It seems that the same thing happened to their Kube2. The second Kube2 I received, however, continues to work normally after two weeks of use. Another side note: I noticed that users only get a 1 year warranty if they “like” the Kube2’s Facebook page.

Overall, I think the Kube2 is a pretty little thing. It has a minimalist aluminum shell with a glossy black back and front. Although I was a little skeptical about its size and shape, the 1 cubic inch Kube2 is quite portable. The cube shape fits fine in pants or jacket pockets.

On the back, there is a headphone jack and MicroSD card slot. Actually, this slot is one of my favorite features of the Kube2. I know what you’re thinking: “What’s exciting about that?” This slot allows you to have up to 32 GB worth of songs on your Kube2 mp3 player. Why is this important? Many inexpensive mp3 players don’t have expandable storage. If you own a $50 iPod shuffle and an 8 GB music collection, you’ll have to buy a new Mp3 player to listen to all of your music. With the Kube2, you could buy a $7 8GB MicroSD card and pop it in.

On the front, we see the Kube2’s star feature: the touchscreen. However, this isn’t a touchscreen in the typical sense. When I say touchscreen, I usually think of a touch responsive screen that displays color. This “touchscreen” is only touch responsive.

So, how do you use the touch screen? Fast forwarding and rewinding require swipes to the left and right, respectively. To increase the volume, rest your finger on the top half of the touchscreen and rest your finger on the bottom half of the touchscreen to decrease it. To pause play, swipe your thumb from the top left corner to the to the right bottom corner.

However, sometimes these gestures do not work well. The user must do the fast forward or rewind gestures slowly to get them to register correctly (or at all). Until you get the hang of doing these gestures at the correct speed, it is frustrating.

One issue I ran into was figuring out which side was up and which side was down, since the Kube2 doesn't have any identifying marks on the front of the screen. The only way to tell is to remember the tiny little light (which is off most of the time) should be in the bottom right corner.  If you apply a skin with a unique pattern, it will be easier to remember which way is up.

The Kube2 seems to have very good audio quality. The Kube2 brings out the “thumpy” bass undertones that other devices neglect. Unfortunately, the Kube2 has a pronounced buzzing in the background. (It sounds similar to a movie reel running.) I can hear it when the volume is turned down quite low and when the player is between songs. (No, the buzzing isn't from my headphones. I tried several pairs with the Kube2.)

Battery Life
Although the Kube2 website says that the Kube2 gets up to six hours continuous hours of battery life, I don’t think it lasts that long. In my testing, it seems to get about three hours of non-continuous playback.

Just because this the Kube2’s touchscreen technology may seem more "advanced" than physical buttons, it doesn't mean it provides an improved user experience. Its attractive design, decent audio, and expandable storage are nice features. In the end, though, its underwhelming battery life and frustrating navigation make this a product I wouldn't recommend. There are better options at the $50 price point such as the iPod shuffle and Sansa Clip Zip.

Product Info

Price:$49.90 from Amazon
Manufacturer:Bluetree Electronics
    Pretty design, decent audio quality, up to 32GB storage  
  • Underwhelming battery life, frustrating navigation, buzzing in background

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