While seeing a flashy
looking new DAP
roll out of China happens more times than we care to count, every so often a player hits the market with a feature that's actually quite remarkable. While the overall specs aren't revolutionary, the Gemei X-21 offers support for an audio format that few other players do, and is sure to catch the discerning ears of audiophiles
everywhere. The focal point on this otherwise average unit is its ability to play back APE audio files, more appropriately known as Monkey's Audio, which is a lossless format (similar to FLAC) that supposedly suffers no loss in quality from the original regardless of how many times it's uncompressed and re-encoded. Unfortunately, you won't stuff too many of those hefty APE jams onto the 512 MB of internal storage, since APE encoding reportedly only decreases file size by about 55 percent. Nevertheless, the "aluminum cased" DAP sports a fairly nice looking design, and the bold 2.0-inch screen apparently uses all 208 x 176 pixels to display photos, but gives no love to video clips. Aside from your basic track / volume controls, USB 2.0 connectivity, and obligatory white headphones, the unit supports the aforementioned APE, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, and WMA (no word on WMA-DRM). While it does toss in an FM tuner, the real downer here isn't the lack of pricing or availability, but rather the apparent omission of an expansion slot to load up tunes via memory card -- and honestly, you can't exactly go ape wild with just 512MB.