RCA LYRA 2780 Portable Media Centre

The LYRA.2780 Media player from RCA, while not as well known as the latest models from Creative or iriver is certainly going to be one of the first players you’ll see when you walk into any Dixons store in the UK. So does the player with its unknown branding warrant a look?

The first thing that impressed us was how complete the package was straight out of the box - every accessory you could possibly need to enjoy this product was in the box - headphones, protective case, power adaptor, AV leads and even a car adapter and in-car cassette adapter so you can play the music through you currently car stereo without having to go out and spend more money (something that can’t be said for the competition). In short, we were impressed before we had even turned it on.

The unit is slimline and comparatively easy to use with two D-pads next to the large 3.5in screen. Although there are other buttons elsewhere on the unit these are the main point of call. The menu’s D-Pad-controlled interface is simple to pick up although a quick glance at the included PDF manual would probably be a good thing to get the most out of the player.

With 20Gb of onboard memory, there is plenty of storage available to you for recorded video, music and images. You can customize almost every function from Slide Shows of your jpegs within the Photo menu to the usually contrast/brightness etc for the video play back menu.

For the space conscious, you can also determine the quality of the video footage. The medium encoding setting gave a slightly grainy/pixel image but an acceptable trade off when viewing on the 3.5in screen. Like audio compared to voice MP3 files we found that playback of mundane programs like soaps didn’t really need to be cinematic quality when viewed on a small screen.

The MP3 player element of the unit is good, easily matching the capabilities of the iPod in both functionality and sound. Connected to a PC via USB2.0, the included software automatically cataloguing all songs into the usual set up. The ear pods were both comfortable and rugged using the latest cord string style wires.

Verdict

Compared to the Creative Zen Media Centre and the irvier PMP and PMC, this unit manages to hold its own. The build quality isn't as great and neither is the battery power, but then the inclusion of all the extra peripherals, included the case, and car kit is a definite plus.

Does it turn heads? It certainly does and the long haul flight we tested it on certainly got the cabin crew interested. Add this to the players ability to take a compact flash card and you can get data including images on to the player when you are out and about rather that having to rely on USB cables and computers. We like it.


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