Backstage: Review - Mobiblu Cube (DAH-1500i) MP3 Player | iLounge Backstage

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Backstage: Review - Mobiblu Cube (DAH-1500i) MP3 Player

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Tuesday, August 23, 2005
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What should the iPod shuffle have looked like? Based on submissions to a contest we held last year, the answer would have been something much closer to Mobiblu’s Cube (DAH-1500i) MP3 player, a metal- and plastic-shelled device with a screen, a headphone port, and a loop for easy attachment to clothing. So when such a device emerged - not from Apple or Sony, but from Korea’s Hyunwon - we had to check it out, and came away suitably impressed.

We’re going to get four important points about the Cube out of the way up front. First, its controls aren’t as easy to use as the shuffle’s. Second, its screen isn’t as useful as most people would prefer. Third, its industrial design is a step (or two*) behind Apple’s. And fourth, if we were given the choice between the Cube or the iPod shuffle for the same price - and they do sell for the same price - we’d take the Cube. Any day.

Yes, point four might not initially make sense in light of the first three, but that’s why it’s worth reading the rest of our quick review of the Cube, which you’ll find by clicking on Read More below.

As a general but regrettably not universal rule, Apple products are polished to an impressive level of physical and user interface perfection that competitors have struggled to duplicate. When the company does right - as with the iPod and iPod mini - it’s hard to argue that a competing product is better in any way that’s important to the majority of people. And even when the company misses the design bullseye with certain products - as it did with the iPod shuffle, and more recently with the Mighty Mouse - scores of people still line up to buy them. Even a so-so Apple product generates enough interest and buzz to win more customers than a well-executed, less well-known competitor.

So when another company really steps up to the plate and does almost all the right things - not ripping off an iPod, but thinking of smart ways to improve upon it - it deserves a pat on the back. That’s what Mobiblu’s done with the Cube. It fit a 1GB digital audio player into a cube the width of a quarter, and an iPod shuffle-style controller the size of a dime on its right side. The internal battery runs for 10 hours under normal playback conditions, and you don’t need any special software to use it - Macs and PCs recognize it as a USB storage device. It supports MP3, WMA and protected WMA formats, as well as limited playlist functionality. All major pluses.

Every Cube comes with a set of headphones, a single cable that charges and syncs the device from any powered USB port, and a little rubber edge-protecting box that we’d call a case, save that it exposes at least as much of the Cube as it covers. Though the unit’s lack of a USB plug limits its utility as a “go anywhere” storage device, we thought it was seriously cool (albeit impractical under some circumstances) that there is only one port on the entire Cube’s body.

For a device this small, you’ll be shocked to see how much control you have over your sound - more, in fact, than on even a full-sized iPod. The Cube features SRS (artificial sound enhancement) with focus, speaker size and volume controls, plus an adjustable level of Trubass enhancement. There are also nine equalizer presets - normal, rock (the default), jazz, classic, pop, SRS, Trubass, WOW, and User EQ. Yes, User EQ. A five-band graphic equalizer, easy to see on the screen thanks to a bright OLED display. Mobiblu also has a “fade in” feature for songs that works nicely.

Holding down a Menu button on the unit’s left side brings up a scrolling icon-laden menu (big plus) that lets you go through five options. You start at Music, go to FM Radio (yup), then to Setting (a sub-menu with its own set of iconic choices), then to Recording (yup, again), and finally to Listen, which lets you hear stored recordings. We were especially amazed that the Cube’s microphone works well from all directions even though it’s hidden on the unit’s bottom - you don’t need to plug anything (microphone or peripheral) in to record. Bitrate settings range from 64Kbps to 160Kbps (monaural), and there’s a manual gain control setting ranging from 1.5 to 22.5db, defaulting at 6db. It’s not as good as having an automatic gain control setting, as on Griffin’s iTalk, but - wait for it - it records, and the shuffle does not. A small lock-iconed button next to the Menu button lets you put the Cube in hold mode to prevent accidental button presses.

But what about the first three points we raised above? Well, they’re undeniable, but they’re also acceptable - at least, until someone does something considerably better. Unless you have tiny fingers, you’ll need to press the dime-sized control pad’s buttons with a fingertip or fingernail. And sometimes - often times - you’ll need to press them twice to get the Cube to do what you want.

That’s one of the mistakes that Apple’s been wisest to avoid in its devices. Other companies have tried to map multiple functions onto single buttons. Click a button fast and it does X. Press the button slower and it does Y. Hold the button down for two seconds and it does Z. Hit it two times quickly and it does something else. This sort of control engineering (sometimes) works fine in video games, but it doesn’t work well for a MP3 player - even the Hold button is multipurposed in this design. Over the course of multiple days of testing, we’ve sort of gotten used to the oddities, but they conspire to make the Cube less of an easy in-car music player than even an iPod shuffle.

The screen is also a mixed bag, though we give Mobiblu serious credit for what it’s accomplished in such a small space. There’s no doubt in our minds that Sony’s NW-E505/7 series came up as close to the “right” way to integrate an OLED screen into a flash player as we’ve seen, with a nice wide, multi-line display. Four lines of song options would be better, but three lines work. The Cube only gives you two, and not so wisely keeps a folder name (Root, ugh) at the top of the screen at all times when you’re scrolling through song titles. And - no joke - because it tries to fit icons and a tree structure graphic on the screen, it fits a total of five characters per line onto the display. The result is that your song list says “04 De” for a song title, then scrolls to reveal “04 Deep Cover.mp3.” Rename all of your songs, or you’ll almost wish you had a shuffle. Almost.

There’s a reset button on the unit’s bottom, pin-sized, as the reset buttons on most such devices are, to our dismay. But the good news is that the Cube didn’t lock up or have firmware-related problems in any of our testing, so we never had to use that button - a big difference from our experiences with Creative’s Zens, as just one example. Mobiblu hides the internal microphone inside the reset button.

There’s only one thing you’ll want to buy separately when buying a cube: headphones. Because Mobiblu used a gimmick rather than just shipping the unit with a standard set of headphones, the packed-in earphones are on the fine edge of goofy-looking, and they don’t sound great, either. Made from fabric and plastic, then capped with grayish ear foams, you have to wear them as a necklace, and keep the Cube dangling from your neck like a pendant. We swapped off the pack-ins for other headphones, which sounded great with the device, and wish that Mobiblu wouldn’t have gone with a mandatory wearable listening solution.

There are three final things we’ll mention before closing out our look at the Cube. First, the FM radio’s so-so under stressful conditions, but it’s programmable, easy to tune, and works outdoors - sometimes. Second, if Mobiblu wants to polish the design further - even a little bit further - for a next-generation model, they could have something truly spectacular on their hands. As it is, this is a shuffle killer, but that’s not too high of a bar given what Apple’s mission was with the low-priced, stripped down iPod. If we were Mobiblu, we’d polish the unit’s physical edges, make a few tweaks to the screen and interface (hence our * reference to “a step (or two)” above), and get another version of this out quickly. As-is, we think the current one is going to do great, but a next-generation version of this could be incredible.

Finally, there’s the price: under $100 for the 512MB version, and under $130 for the 1GB version. Admittedly, seven months have passed since the iPod shuffle was introduced, and it was inevitable that a superior option would appear at a comparable or lower price point. But that shouldn’t take away from what Mobiblu has accomplished, particularly given that no less a company than Sony recently blew an opportunity to do the same thing based on poor software, wacky controls, and high pricing. The Cube isn’t perfect, but it delivers a cool, user-customizable digital music experience in a tiny, affordable package that will turn heads. Apple is surely cooking up newer and better things for the flash market, but until they’re introduced, we’d pick the Cube over the shuffle.

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Comments

1

I would love to see this player with these features, only in the shuffle form factor so they could use a nicer screen and bigger buttons.

I’m actually afraid I would accidentally eat that thing.  smile

Posted by stark23x on August 23, 2005 at 4:25 PM (PDT)

2

Oh No!
The white headphones…

Nice Product Non the less..

Posted by Anton on August 23, 2005 at 5:02 PM (PDT)

3

Completely and utterly cool.

I want one.  :-D

Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on August 23, 2005 at 5:31 PM (PDT)

4

I dunno, kind of reminds me of the iPod flea ...

Posted by Eric Gruber on August 23, 2005 at 5:50 PM (PDT)

5

The lack of AAC support is a deal killer for me, and I don’t think it will be nearly as useful as my shuffle without autofill.

Impressive engineering, though, particularly on the size.

But it sounds like the menu system is crap (“root”? Inexcusable. This is a music player, not a Linux box), and it uses file names instead of ID3 tags. And five characters on the screen?

How does it sound compared to the shuffle? They can pack all the crappy equalizers and sound processors they want in there, but if the headphone stage doesn’t push as much high-quality power as the shuffle, it’s all just parlor tricks.

Posted by mattwardfh in Texas on August 23, 2005 at 6:27 PM (PDT)

6

why is it a cube? that form factor is less than functional. these types of screened players should be judged against the ipod mini not the shuffle.

it is true that it would be nice to have a screen on the shuffle, but with a player that small the screen cannot be used for navigation, so its just to know what you are playing, of course you could also just listen to the song to know what you are playing. the other issue is the the shuffle’s lack of an eq. again, with a player that small it becomes almost impossible effectively implement an eq, without compromising some elements of the user interface.

the question is how would apple implement all these added features on the shuffle without compromising its simplicity, which everyone appreciates. how is this the shuffle done right? every positive statement about this player is qualified a sentence later.

so the shuffle should have a screen… whats new?

Posted by yankees suck on August 23, 2005 at 7:19 PM (PDT)

7

truly impressive, but the cube size doesn’t seem particularly pocket- or hand-friendly. my only complaint.

Posted by jm on August 23, 2005 at 7:38 PM (PDT)

8

so has anyone else thought about how uncomfortable it would be in your pocket in comparison to the shuffle?

Posted by bryan on August 23, 2005 at 7:51 PM (PDT)

9

With Cube on “normal” equalizer and shuffle on… well… complete lack of equalizer, you’d be challenged to discern any difference between the two units at (a) the same normal volume level with (b) a good pair of headphones and (c) the same compressed song.

Optimally, we prefer to test with uncompressed tracks and high-end studio-class monitors, but it’s a seriously unrealistic test on this class of flash players based on their limited storage capacities and the way that real people use them. Both shuffle and Cube put out noise easily discernible with a set of Ultimate Ears UE-10 Pros, but not with a pair of Shure E4cs. The big difference here is the equalization, which only one of the units supports.

Yankees Suck: Any form factor can be blankly stated as less than functional for some reason or another. And judging a $99-$129 512MB-1GB player against the mini rather than the shuffle seems like more than a bit of a stretch, don’t you think?

Re: using a screen this small for navigation, Sony and Mobiblu have both proved that while screens smaller than an iPod can not afford iPod-class navigation, they do a better job than the shuffle, which offers none at all.

Re: EQ, not really. In fact, not at all. The EQs on the Cube work just fine, even on the small screen.

Re: the shuffle’s simplicity, even Apple conceded that it had wanted to engineer a screen into the shuffle, but couldn’t figure it out (in time, or something to that effect).  The reason this is the shuffle done right is that it’s small, equally cheap, holds just as much music, and yet actually gives you some control over what you’re playing beyond just forward and back.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on August 23, 2005 at 8:00 PM (PDT)

10

At what point did the not-so-subtle anti-shuffle language start to creep into iLounge? I never noticed before, until I read this.

Posted by Magic Rabbits in Aberdeen, Scotland on August 24, 2005 at 1:38 AM (PDT)

11

i can’t believe this thing…  It is soooooooooo coolio, athough i happen to be a total ipod guy, i found a liking to this pretty interesting device. love how there are so many things you can do with it, and also the ability to control music setting, and also radio station.  downsides and i must agree is the screen size.  i mean it’s awesome, but it’s so small that it isn’t able to show the entire song title.  other then that it is amazing.  truely a shuffle killer i must say, burns my heart but it’s true, and i just hope that the new ipods are willing to step up the game to this cube, cuz i feel agreat future for this new product.

fly_j_guy
-truely shuffle killer.

Posted by fly_j_guy on August 24, 2005 at 2:14 AM (PDT)

12

I agree with Magic Rabbits, that review seemed a bit too concerned with cutting down the shuffle, and the comments here as well seem biased.

Posted by Aaryn on August 24, 2005 at 2:48 AM (PDT)

13

Yeah, a cube shaped thing is going to be real handy at the gym or while running.  What are you supposed to do, saftey-pin the thing to your shorts?

Pass.

Posted by irun5k on August 24, 2005 at 5:07 AM (PDT)

14

its not a blank statement that the cube form factor is not functional. there are a number of readers who appear to agree.

well no i do not think it would be -that- much of a stretch to compare this product to the mini. because if you are a person looking for a screen, navigation, and an eq, then you would be considering a mini not the shuffle. think of it from the point of view of a person deciding which player to buy.

i dont think the shuffle is a perfect player, but it shouldnt get a bad rap based on this thing

thanks for the previous response, that was unexpected

Posted by yankees suck on August 24, 2005 at 6:04 AM (PDT)

15

Thanks for the review.  It keeps my confidence level higher that iLounge is trying to be a serious review website when (as here) it recognizes good products by other companies, and doesn’t just repeat mantra-like the supposed inevitable superiority of Apple’s products. 

IMHO (coming from a person who with my wife own two 4G ipods and two Macs) the Shuffle is simply not worth all the press it gets.  As such I agree generally with Aaryn and Magic Rabbit that there is no need to direct vitriol at the Shuffle: instead, it would be more efficient to ignore it, as the real standard-bearers in teh flas market place are made by other companies.

(Note - none of these comments relate to the news I saw this morning in my office building’s elevator that Apple has committed to buy 40% of Samsung’s output of flash memory supposedly for a new flash-based Mini - such a product would be very interesting if the reports are correct.)

Posted by JGitz on August 24, 2005 at 8:16 AM (PDT)

16

yank, the shuffle get’s a bad rap because it’s a very low end player.  It’s not even close to the same level as a mini.  Neither is the cube.  But the cube comes a lot closer, than the shuffle.

The article never says the cube is better than the mini.  It says its better than shuffle.  Do you really disagree?

If we’re going to compare apple to cubes, why not compare it to the 60gb Color Ipod photo.  The full up Ipod is a much better player, but you can’t take it or the mini jogging.

Posted by __redruM on August 24, 2005 at 9:34 AM (PDT)

17

From our Power Users’ review of the iPod shuffle:

“iPod shuffle is therefore highly likely to be the first iPod a person owns. And because of its limitations, it’s equally likely not to be the last. Think of it as 2005’s gateway drug to full-sized iPod ownership.”

...

“Therefore, while recommendable to some power users for certain applications, it’s not right for all, and chiefly appealing because of its price tag and convenience, not its features.”

At the time of the shuffle’s release, we said that it was a good device to attract iPod newbies, and that it would also appeal to some existing iPod owners, but emphasized that we preferred the iPod mini and full-sized iPods. Take a look at the section called “Practical Use and Performance: the Negatives” for a list of the things we noted that the shuffle omitted.

In short, we have never been enamored with it. It has its place, and it serves a purpose, but it is far more of a deviation from the ideal flash music player than we had hoped it would be. We don’t spend a lot of time harping on this point, but if someone does the shuffle decisively better, we’re going to point it out.

Re: the cube form factor, the Cube is too small to bother anyone inside of a pocket. And regarding safety-pinning it to shorts, that’s actually not a bad option for now. It took a month and a half after the shuffle’s release for the first arm band to come out. We’ll see what happens with the Cube.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on August 24, 2005 at 9:44 AM (PDT)

18

Mobiblu deserves credit for studying just how far you can go with condensing a music player as they have. Surely, it demonstrates that given the technology at hand, that players can get even smaller, and smaller. I also share JGitz perspective; it is good to see that iLounge can be diverse in its reviews.

Posted by FahrenheiPod 451 on August 24, 2005 at 11:21 AM (PDT)

19

redrum,
“yank, the shuffle get’s a bad rap because it’s a very low end player.  It’s not even close to the same level as a mini.  Neither is the cube.  But the cube comes a lot closer, than the shuffle.”

yes thats what im saying, the cube is closer to the mini than the shuffle. and you apparently think its “a lot” closer. why not compare similar feature sets, just like we compare similar price points, flash players, and hd players?

“The article never says the cube is better than the mini. “

no one said it did.

“If we’re going to compare apple to cubes, why not compare it to the 60gb Color Ipod photo. “

youre missing my point

re: the form factor. for me, it is difficult to understand how this cube shape aids in the user experience. its novel, but how is it good? why make a player like this? thats all i im trying to say. i dont think the cube will injure anyone or anything like that, im simply trying to look at this thing from a design engineer’s perspective.

and a 5 character display… come on, no one wants that.

im not a shuffle crusader, but i have felt the need to clarify myself. there are pros and cons for every player, and i am well aware of this. i appreciate the discourse, and i too trust ilounge reviews; but not because ilounge has shown the ability to be critical of apple. i read ilounge because they are by far the most thorough in their reviews.

that said, i wouldnt wish this player on arod. -joke-

Posted by yankees suck on August 24, 2005 at 12:24 PM (PDT)

20

The title of this article implies that the shuffle was not done right, and I tend to agree. The shuffle has three things going for it: it sounds great (best among the iPods), it plays AAC, and it uses iTunes. But 1GB is the limit for a screenless player.

Look at it this way. The recent Sony player uses crap Sony software, so that every time you change songs on the player, you are inconvenienced. But what if you had the shuffle and were in the mood for a particular song that was in the middle of your playlist? Here are the steps you need to take: put the shuffle on shuffle, forward track until you get to a song in the middle of the playlist, put the shuffle on sequential play, and navigate to the desired song.

Which player is more of a hassle to use? The clear answer is the shuffle. If you are only going to buy one mp3 player, it would be stupid to buy the shuffle. The shuffle is clearly for those with iPods already. IMHO, alone, it does not provide a very good portable listening experience when compared to other flash players.

Posted by bad consumer on August 24, 2005 at 12:58 PM (PDT)

21

To clarify: you are inconvenienced when loading new songs on the Sony. This is what I meant by “change songs.”

Posted by bad consumer on August 24, 2005 at 1:00 PM (PDT)

22

I can tell a big difference between the shuffle and the iPod 4G with Sennheiser PX-100s, which aren’t exactly high-end—the shuffle is much better. I didn’t expect the Mobiblu to be competitive with this, but maybe it is. Is it discernibly better than an iPod 4G in the same way that the shuffle is?

Posted by mattwardfh in Texas on August 24, 2005 at 2:03 PM (PDT)

23

It’s funny, really. I see a pattern, the shuffle should have this, the shuffle doesn’t have that….
Come on man, the shuffle is what it is, simplistic. Less is more. 
You guys crack me up!

Posted by padre bob on August 24, 2005 at 5:47 PM (PDT)

24

Very cool.  Let’s see what our buddies at Apple do with the 2GB and 4GB flash memory that’s in the pipeline relative to the Shuffle and/or other Apple branded players.  Could be a very interesting battle on the horizon - and all good for the consumer.

Bring it on!

Posted by runningman on August 24, 2005 at 6:37 PM (PDT)

25

Moral: “Dont buy a 3 series BMW and then get irritated because its not like a 7 series.”

Posted by shift4g on August 24, 2005 at 9:16 PM (PDT)

26

I don’t quite understand the BMW metaphor. This cube records, has a user EQ, has an FM radio, and a scrolling screen.

The shuffle HAS NO SCREEN for a Gig’s worth of songs!!

How do these differences translate into the differences between BMW models?

Posted by bad consumer on August 24, 2005 at 9:35 PM (PDT)

27

yeah that analogy is bad, because they both cost the same.

Posted by jm on August 24, 2005 at 10:41 PM (PDT)

28

I think with the BMW analogy, he’s just saying don’t buy a shuffle, and then complain about it falling short of the other ipod’s—seems like that’s what people do.

Posted by Jaz on August 25, 2005 at 12:56 AM (PDT)

29

Comparing the shuffle with the cube is like comparing a normal-sized iPod to any other mp3 player with radio, recording, WMA, etc. And yet, the iPod has been a winner for quite a long time.

The shuffle has a great advantage over its rivals; the USB plug. The no need for an extra cable makes it always available for charging and syncing, and doubles it as a USB flash drive.

It also has a flat shape that lets it fit in any pocket. A cube or a sphere or another 3D shape would look cool, but not so smart for a portable mp3 player.

Simple controls. While you’re on the go, it’s highly probable you’ll need to stop the music to listen to someone, cross a road or anything. You can operate a shuffle without even looking at it.

Screen: Do it right or don’t do it at all. 5 characters per line is unacceptable.

After all, would I object if someone gave me a shuffle with a screen, voice recording and FM radio? If it would be as easy to use as the current shuffle, of course not.

Posted by KenGR on August 25, 2005 at 6:47 AM (PDT)

30

I don’t know if I’d call it what the shuffle should have been.  When having this product in your pocket, it would probably be buldged out the whole time.  The iPOD Shuffle fits perfectly anywhere and it not as bulky as that bad boy.  Although cool it’s not up to my standards.  The shuffle hits the spot.

Posted by Eric Blaska on August 25, 2005 at 2:03 PM (PDT)

31

“And fourth, if we were given the choice between the Cube or the iPod shuffle for the same price - and they do sell for the same price - we’d take the Cube. Any day.”

I must respectfully but vehemently disagree with this statement.

1) It’s a cube.  How am I supposed to hold this in palm of my hand?  The Shuffle’s long, skinny, flat design makes it easy to hold and control with the same hand.

2) There’s a certain balance to making a product small enough to be portable yet big enough to be useful.  A player that’s smaller than the Shuffle and with smaller controls, yet considerably more features?  That just doesn’t seem practical to me.

The equalization & sound settings are nice though.  I wish Apple would let us set these things for the Shuffle through iTunes.

Posted by SPThom on August 25, 2005 at 2:35 PM (PDT)

32

Oh man, this thing looks so awesome.  My only problem with it is that it doesn’t work with AAC files, because my entire library is encoded in AAC.  Maybe that will be an improvement in the second generation of the product.  Or I guess I could convert all my songs to MP3….

Posted by John on August 25, 2005 at 6:23 PM (PDT)

33

NOT BMWs again…when will you Bummer huggers finally see the light and set your sights higher.

P-O-R-S-C-H-E :p

As for the Shuffle Love, or lack thereof: I own a 1GB Shuffle, use it often, and think it’s a cheap low-brow and sorry excuse of a flash player. After years of iRiver, the Shuffle was a definite step or three backwards for me. But then again it plays AAC…just like my 40GB 4G and 3G, even if it doesn’t sound as good.  Yet in my mind there’s no excuse whatsoever for such a chintzy, minimalist DAP. It’s GOOD that iLounge is unafraid to point out the Shuffle’s failings; it’s only going to make the Shuffle, Part Duex better, at least I hope.

Posted by flatline response on August 25, 2005 at 6:41 PM (PDT)

34

KenGR hit the nail on the head - not only does this thing not have an integrated USB plug, but it uses a highly proprietary cable.

It might seem “seriously cool” to only have one connector on the player, but it means you have to drag around a bulky cable with you if you want to charge or load new music.  Not to mention that you are SOL if you lose the cable.  Any bets that you’ll ever be able to find a replacement cable?  With my iPod Shuffle and my foo_pod software loaded on it, I can walk up to any Windows 2000+ machine and load new music or charge the Shuffle.

Another major problem is the cube shape.  Aesthetically, it is undeniably interesting, but it has to be a usability nightmare.  Imagine this thing in your pocket - there are 4 potential faces that the play controls could be on, and even once you find it, the control is a circle in the middle of a square.  How are you supposed to know which way is “up”?  The only clue is the headphone connector…  With the Shuffle, you have a 50/50 chance of finding the controls on the first try, and since the headphones orientate the player, there is no chance that you’ll hit the Next button instead of Previous, for example.  Maybe this isn’t a big deal for most people, but when I work out, I drop my iPod Shuffle into my pocket and have no problem hitting the controls through my clothes, even while running.

Posted by foopod on August 25, 2005 at 10:37 PM (PDT)

35

The Shuffle is what it is….and suits me just fine. I bought it to play music on the go, fit flat with a belt clip or arm band and I can change the volume with 2 buttons or switch to the next song without looking. I bought it to PLAY MY MUSIC not look at a pretty display or listen to some crappy local FM station.

Posted by padre bob on August 26, 2005 at 3:35 PM (PDT)

36

I got mine today and so far I think it’s great. The only thing I can find fault with is the unit’s inability to use playlists. According to the manual, it *is* possible to create playlists, but the manual is so poorly written that I can’t figure out how to do it—and at best it doesn’t seem as if it would be easy. Since this thing uses a simple drag-and-drop interface, it would be pretty cool if there were a way to create a playlist, some kind of text file, on the PC and then drag and drop it onto the drive along with your music files. For now, I’m getting rudimentary playlist functionality by organizing my music into folders. The only problem is that after it’s done playing all the music in one folder, it starts playing the music in the next one. Still, overall I like it and don’t regret the purchase.

Posted by navamske on August 26, 2005 at 4:48 PM (PDT)

37

First, this site has always been mildly “anti-Shuffle”.

Second, for me, the Shuffle is (almost) perfect.  I use it at the gym 95% of the time and I even sold a 4G 40 gig iPod because I couldn’t justify keeping both when the Shuffle would be used so much more.  I listen to the Shuffle the exact same way I listened to the full sized one; by shuffling a playlist.  Except, instead of a 6.something ounce player on my gym shorts, I have a 3/4 oz player that I don’t even know is there because it’s so light.

Another thing, I don’t understand why people think it’s a positive that you don’t have to install iTunes to use competitive flash players, especially from this site.  I have over 6000 songs, so picking 240 songs to put on a 1 gig flash player is daunting.  But smart playlists and autofill make this task easy and automated.

Lastly, I don’t understand the need to bash the Shuffle.  Don’t you realize that there are many ways to listen to music and for me the Shuffle works great (though I admit I’d like a screen to see song titles, but because of all it’s other positives, I can live with out it - and if it only could display 5 characters at a time, I’d probably never look at it)?  For others, the Shuffle may not work, but can’t you admit that for others it’s great?

Posted by mtnagel on August 26, 2005 at 4:56 PM (PDT)

38

ROFL the shuffle is crap this thing craps all over it, awsome cube

Posted by billy on August 27, 2005 at 2:18 AM (PDT)

39

what was battery life like?

how about sound quality?  volume?

is the screen readable outside?

Posted by zip22 on August 27, 2005 at 10:12 AM (PDT)

40

The Shuffle is just a limited device selling on a successful brand name.  Still, if Apple shot itself in the foot with the design of the Shuffle, then Sony keeps repeatedly blowing their whole leg off with a gatling gun by still shipping every DAP they make with that truely AWFUL SonicStage software.  I owned Walkman Net MD player and know first hand how abmysal it is. 

It’s good to see other companies having a go and showing that in the Flash market at least, there are companies that can compete with Apple.  The Cube looks like a really cute little gadget, it isn’t hampered by third-rate synching software, and if the RIAA raid your place of work you can always swallow it.

Posted by PassiveSmoking on August 27, 2005 at 1:07 PM (PDT)

41

I applaud iLounge for a such an honest review.  I’m glad that the majority of reviewers on this site are unbiased unlike some of its visitors.
  I don’t understand why people get so defensive and have this “Apple can do no wrong” attitude because this type of product will benefit us (the consumers) by helping create a more competitive DAP market, which will hopefully progress innovation and keep prices at a reasonable level.

Posted by Drew on August 27, 2005 at 3:58 PM (PDT)

42

WOW, this looks awesome, I want one.  Damn I want a cube, looks sweet.  So small you can put it in your damn pocket!

Posted by NEoxphuse on August 27, 2005 at 11:09 PM (PDT)

43

“Lastly, I don’t understand the need to bash the Shuffle.”

Well, you’re happy with it. Of course you don’t understand.  As for the rest of us malcontents, well, let’s just say we set our sights with higher/tougher/more demanding standards in mind.

Posted by flatline response on August 28, 2005 at 12:58 AM (PDT)

44

omg! its so cool! i can actually put in my mouth. toobad this is one thing a baby can’t have. *Hazardous choking small sparts*
oh and then screen, it scrolls to get the show the full name right? it ain’t that bad, i’ve got a sony md which does the same thing.
dude! its so small that u could put in ur pocket and not feel a thing or like one of the post said, just safety pin it, bet u could also get a carabina for a buck with a key ring at the end of it for jogging or sumthing like that.

Posted by ThatsMyJazz on August 28, 2005 at 8:18 AM (PDT)

45

<<what was battery life like?>>

Seems fine so far, though I haven’t put it to any real test. The unit actually arrived fully charged, which was a nice touch if intentional. The cube also comes with two crappy songs on it, I guess for people who want to try the thing as soon as they get outside in the parking lot.

<<how about sound quality?>>

Sound quality is fine; I notice no difference between the cube’s sound quality and the iPod’s. Keep in mind that I am hard of hearing, though, so my experience may not be of any real value.

<<volume?>>

It’s fine. Whenever I get a new audio device I worry that I won’t be able to raise the volume as much as I need to (because of the afore-mentioned hearing problem), but I have no problem with the volume on the cube.

<<is the screen readable outside?>>

I haven’t tried that yet.

Posted by navamske on August 28, 2005 at 10:18 AM (PDT)

46

Radio?  I would never use it.  Voice recording?  Only if I was a reporter, but not with this toy looking thing.  So what’s left?  You get a digital music player with laughable sized screen, and tiny unnecessarily complex options for less than 200 songs.  I see nothing that would make me want to trade in my Shuffle.
What’s next, the “Orb” music player that projects the screen on the wall and comes with one thousand french recipes already loaded? (ooh, ahhh - and the guys at iPodlounge go wild)

Posted by Vic on August 28, 2005 at 10:37 AM (PDT)

47

Sounds like a user nightmare to me. If Apple produced this product they would be a laughing stock.  That said its engineering is very impressive, and something Apple needs to look at, but its the packaging of it that stinks. I really can’t see how a cube shape at this size is remotely practical in almost any way imaginable, its bad for screen size/shape and therefore viewing information, its bad for controls (size and ease of use) and its even bad for hanging/sitting on the body especially when moving, or indeed handling generally on the go. Sorry folks but to me its an ergonomic disaster, is complex where it should be simple and naff looking to boot..

Posted by Spyinthesky on August 30, 2005 at 1:35 AM (PDT)

48

I don’t know if it’s “shuffle done right”. Its form factor allows many more features, but it ignores one major user factor; portability. This thing is not going to fit your pocket without making an awkward bulge. There’s no way to clip it to your belt or shirt. And have fun trying to jog with that a cube hanging from your neck, bouncing against your chest. While I agree that Apple missed some marks with the Shuffle, I still think where Apple’s competitors, include Mobiblu, have fail is to comsider the product from user’s perspective, and that is a major failing.

Posted by Nipith Ongwiseth on September 2, 2005 at 10:16 AM (PDT)

49

I don’t think that comparing the cube to the iPod mini makes much sense.  At its core this is a 512mb or 1gb flash mp3 player in the $90-130 price range.  This makes it an exact contemporary of the iPod shuffle.

Just because it has additional features that the iPod shuffle does not have does not make it an unfair comparison.

The market for the cube and the shuffle is the same… people that want a tiny, flash player for 20-25 albums that costs under $150.

Posted by mike683 on September 6, 2005 at 12:46 PM (PDT)

50

Hello

Is it possible to use the cube with iTunes?

Posted by Thomas on September 14, 2005 at 6:03 AM (PDT)

51

this thing looks and sounds way cool. My cousin has a shuffle and gets on my nerves without a screen, but then again that’s just me. I would love to get one of these cubes, with the different colors and everything, it’s great!

Posted by lyna on November 18, 2005 at 5:33 PM (PDT)

52

i just like the fact that its small, and goes around my neck and its has a file system thats alot easier to use than the ipod. drag & drop, plug & play and your done.

Posted by Hector on December 13, 2005 at 3:55 PM (PDT)

53

HAHAHAHA….....IS THIS A MP3 PLAYER OR A PEICE OF CANDY, BUT REALLY, THIS IS ONE OF THE COOLEST DEVICES I HAVE EVER SEEN AND BUT I WISH THAT IT PLAY MY SONGS IN ORDER…................PLESE GET SOME FILMWEAR!

Posted by Glenn F. on December 15, 2005 at 4:04 PM (PDT)

54

Come on guys….yes you the ones who drank the KoolAid.

There is plenty of real estate on shuffle to put a display. If this company found a way to fit it on cube surely apple could have done it on Shuffle which is much bigger in size.

I luv it when some of you gave up on shuffle and suggest that compare this 100 buck player with Mini instead.

Kudos to Mobiblu to step up to the plate and give a wake up call to apple. This will benefit us all. I am buying 3 to give away for Christmas.

Posted by johnnyZ on December 16, 2005 at 6:54 PM (PDT)

55

Very good. its sound is like wow. its awesome. it also can hold losts of music. good present. i’m afraid i might break it too.

Posted by iceman on January 23, 2006 at 3:47 PM (PDT)

56

is singapore selling this? mobiblu if yes where if no when is it selling in singapore?

Posted by adeline on February 2, 2006 at 7:06 AM (PDT)

57

OH AND DONT FORGET IT TELLS TIME!!!

Posted by JOSH on July 15, 2007 at 7:03 PM (PDT)

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