First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
- — 15 October, 2000 15:15
Although it isn't as small as the Nomad II, you can easily carry it around with you in a bum bag. Because it is not a solid state device and does contain a hard drive, it's not perfect for the extremely active person. However, it's able to withstand shock, due to its 8MB DRAM buffer that provides five minutes of protection, so it can be used while you're jogging.
Functionally, the player is easy to use. The buttons are clearly labelled and well spaced, and also feel good to the touch - in fact, the whole player feels really sturdy and solid. There is no power switch, since the Jukebox is turned on simply by holding down the play button for a few seconds, and likewise can be turned off using the stop button in the same manner.
Typical function keys are included, and there are also menu navigation buttons and a filter button. On one side of the player is a thumbwheel volume control and a headphone jack, while on the other is a hold switch which locks all the buttons. The rear of the player contains the aforementioned line-out jacks, the USB connector and a jack for an external 12V power supply.
The Jukebox's operating system only takes a short time to master, as it is easy to navigate and very clear in its presentation. You can create play-lists either through the accompanying software or through the player itself. The sound quality was excellent, and the provided backphones were crisp and free from distortion, while emitting deep bass at a very enjoyable and not overly loud maximum volume setting.
For viewing all the player's settings and libraries of songs, Creative has given the Jukebox an LCD screen that is 132x64 pixels in size, with a lime green backlight. It's easy to read outdoors on a bright sunny day, and at night the bright backlight will illuminate for about 10 seconds so you can see what's happening. When playing tracks, the screen displays the song title, queued songs, playing mode and elapsed time. Always featured at the bottom of the screen are three soft button functions, and at the top is the screen title.
When using DC power a little power plug will show in the top right corner of the screen, but when running on batteries the battery indicator will only show itself every time the hard disk spins.
The Jukebox ships with an AC power adapter and a generous eight AA-sized rechargeable NIMH batteries. The player only takes four batteries, so you can double your playing time by rotating the two sets. I tested the battery life after fully charging the batteries for 12 hours and got a little over three and a half hours of continuous play with the volume set to its maximum level.
One thing that did annoy me was the lack of an external charger. To charge the batteries you must leave them in the player while it is plugged into an outlet via its AC adapter - and there is no light indicator on the player to tell you when they're done.
Overall, though, I was highly impressed with what the Nomad Jukebox offers - it's a solid, fully-featured MP3 player with 6GB worth of storage and superb sound quality. For an estimated $1199 it's easily the best value portable MP3 player on the market today, and is suitable for either the experienced or novice MP3 user.
Supplier: Creative Labs
Phone: (02) 9666 6100