With so many MP3 stick players on the market, manufacturers have to try every trick in the book to get their player to stand out of the crowd. V@mp, a fairly new player to the market, has opted against this principle and instead has strived to offer a simple player that offers a simple solution, but is it simple enough?
The VP-228 hinge design means the USB plug is concealed safely inside the hinge when closed as well as making it easy to plug the USB connector into your USB slot no matter what the angle all without the need for a lead. Two speakers are also buried into the inside and flipping out the “wings” makes for a perfect stand when sharing music. While it's a nice idea the quality through the small speakers is dire.
The overall build quality of the unit suffers from being flimsy and cheap however despite a little movement from the casing, it does seem fairly durable. On our test unit the slide buttons were a little unresponsive for our liking. On the positive side, the twin 2 line LCD displays offer plenty of information.
A built-in FM radio tuner lets you preset a few channels, as well as giving you the option to record direct into MP3 format (you can also record via a built in microphone, but quality like the speakers is somewhat on the suspect side). The quality is as good as sending from a MP3/PDA/CD Walkman.
The 228 offers 128Mb of solid-state memory and if you are looking for more V@mp offer a 256Mb and 512Mb versions to suit. All are compatible with MP3, WMA and ASF music file formats.
Thrown in the box is a clear case with belt clip, strap, lead and boot disc. Chromed in-ear headphones are the same as issued on the iAudio M3. This is a sign that the majority of MP3 players from Japanese and Korean markets are being distributed via one source, presumably to keep costs down for all concerned. For those of us who see no need to transport their entire collection around, there's a host of good flash players up for grabs. This option tries to be different with the built-in speakers to allow you to share music with others, but in the end it's a gimmick that should have been avoided. Simple? Not quite. Different? Not really. Any good? Let's just say it's nothing special.