Packard Bell Audio Key MP3 player

Someone in an office somewhere obviously said: “You know those MP3 players that are all the rage - well what if we made it so you can plug it in to the computer via USB? Better still why don’t we make it possible to use removable storage?” As if by magic, Packard Bell has done just that.

The device, which is the size of small mobile phone, houses an MP3 player, a USB storage device and 2 AAA batteries.

The first function that you’ll use is the USB storage option as without it, you won’t be able to get your MP3 files onto the device. Packard Bell has made this as simple as possible, simply slam the device into one of your USB sockets and the operating system detects as an external drive and is ready to go. No lengthy installations of software drivers, no propriety software to cause you hassles.

To get you started the Audio Key has 32Mb of built-in memory that gives you about 5 or 6 songs in MP3 format which can be simply copied onto the device. While this isn’t much the device comes into its own by offering users the chance to get more memory via the removable storage option. Using SD/MMC users can theoretically get up to 544Mb of storage giving you some 80 odd tracks. That’s enough for any train journey or trip out.

If we were complaining about this product, then the lack of a screen on the device to see what track is playing can be somewhat annoying, but then the price and battery power reflects why this hasn’t been included. Couple that with the size and some people might find it a little too large compared to its competitors.

Verdict

Many companies have tried to crack the storage/MP3 player device and never really got it. Iomega tried a couple of years ago with the ill-fated click drive, Creative with the non-memory upgradeable MuVo, but Packard Bell seems to have produced a device, if not a little large, that actually gets somewhere to being very useful. This device is great for anyone that needs to transfer medium to large amounts of data quickly and effectively while listening to a little bit of music on the way.