Imation RipGo, Waitec Clipp "and Waitec HipHop

MP3 players

The RipGo is the first of two players in this review that can burn CDs as well as function as a portable MP3 player (it also plays WMA files). This CD-based device uses 8cm discs that can hold up to 180MB of data (200MB discs are also available). While it can play back audio CDs, too, it's not worthwhile burning these yourself as you'll only get around 20 minutes of playing time.

The build quality of this unit was reasonable, although the battery notches need the help of a screwdriver or other forceful tool to actually lock into place, and the headphones had a tendency to crackle if their plug was accidentally moved around. The lithium ion battery looped an entire MP3 CD (at the maximum volume level) for four hours before conking out.

The controls are well laid out on the top of the player and self-explanatory in function. They feature a group of preset equaliser settings and can also shuffle and repeat your music. A backlit LCD display shows the track details, playing mode, volume level and battery status. Playback performance was very good when the player was still, but we found that the unit did not recover quickly from violent shocks or movement. The supplied headphones are the type that wrap around the back of your head - they provide adequate sound quality, but are a little uncomfortable to wear.

The RipGo connects to your PC via USB and ships with Nero Burning ROM as its preferred CD creating program. There is no indicator in the software, however, that tells you how close to the limit of the 8cm disc you are.

The Waitec Clipp is similar in functionality to the Imation RipGo - differing only in looks with its blue colour, the supplied bud headphones, and the rounded edges of the LCD screen and button layouts. The battery is of the same type as the RipGo and our test yielded almost exactly the same time as that player's battery performance: a few minutes over four hours.

It can also burn MP3s or WMA files, using Nero, directly onto 8cm CDs in the unit. You can, of course, also use the player to burn backups of your data to 8cm discs.

Again, USB is the interface that connects it to your computer and the device can function as a regular CD drive in Windows. You probably shouldn't rely on this capability - reading a CD from the unit is sluggish, to say the least, let alone playing music from it.

While it is $200 more expensive than the Imation RipGo, the Waitec Clipp does come with a two-year replacement warranty.

Named after the musical subculture from which rap music spawned, the final player in this review is the HipHop, which, like the Clipp, is an 8cm CD spinning MP3 player, although not a CD burner.

The player is 10.5cmý in size and 2.5cm thick (it's touted as the smallest player of its type on the market), and the control buttons are located on its edges rather than its lid. It also ships with a headphone remote unit, from which volume, play functions and mode can all be controlled. This has a small LCD screen that displays all the necessary playback information as well as battery level and playing modes, but is a little hard to read and is not backlit, either. It connects to a set of wraparound headphones that feature a support bar for the back of your head. Their sound clarity was good, but in terms of comfort they could be annoying if you're not used to this style of headphone.

A buffer of 480 seconds is provided for MP3 files and in my testing I found the player performed quite well when on the move. I did notice a considerable lag time between tracks even when the unit lay stationary.

The HipHop's power source is two AAA batteries, which when fully charged will loop a playlist at the maximum volume level for three hours. Two sets of batteries were included in the package.

Imation RipGo

This portable MP3 player and mini-CD burner in one produces best results when movement is kept to a minimum. It has a one-year warranty.

Price: $599.

Phone: 1800 225 013.

URL: www.imation.com.

Waitec Clipp

The Clipp is virtually identical to the RipGo in functionality, but comes in $200 dearer and features one additional warranty year.

Price: $799.

Phone: (07) 3488 1000.

URL: www.waitec.com.au.

Waitec HipHop

The HipHop is a solid little unit with good sound and reasonable performance.

Price: $325.

Phone: (07) 3488 1000.

URL: www.waitec.com.au.

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