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Unpacking the Pez MP3 player

Marc Perton

pez mp3

It's here! Yes, it may not be the most technically advanced portable audio player on the market. But just in time for the holidays, one of the year's most eagerly awaited MP3 players has arrived: The Pez MP3 player, testament to the power of sugar-fueled nostalgia and one man's dream, is everything we hoped it would be. Ours arrived by mail today, and we're ready to (virtually) share it with you.

pez mp3

Yesterday, we received an e-mail from Pez MP3 impresario Pat Misterovich, letting us know that the first batch of players had shipped. Sure enough, when we opened our mailbox today, there it was. Talk about fast service! In the first picture above, you can see everything that comes with the player, including a carrying strap, ear buds, USB cable and owner?s manual.

pezAs you can see, the player is blister-packed, with the front of the pack marked ?1st Edition.? Whether or not that means these early versions will be worth a bundle on eBay at some point in the future remains to be seen (though, just in case, we ordered two ? and, yes, we paid for them!). Also on the blister pack: word that this holds ?120 candies songs.? Personally, we would have liked it if Pat had found a way to squeeze the player into the shell and keep the candy, but maybe that?ll be the second edition.


The side of the player is where you?ll find the USB jack, along with an iPod-esque wheel, which controls all playback functions. The hole to the right of the P is a green LED, which illuminates when the player is initially turned on or off, when the playback controls are activated, and when the player is connected to a PC.

pezHere?s what happens when you open the head and feet. The switch inside the head turns the power on and off, while the feet slide off to reveal the battery compartment (the player takes a single AAA battery).

pezSo, once it?s all unpacked, how good a player is this? A better question would be, how good is SigmaTel?s player-on-a-chip, since that?s what takes the place of the candy inside this box. And it works just fine. Non-DRM?d music files can be installed via drag-and-drop, and DRM?d ones can be transferred using any application that can verify your Windows Media 10 license (we tested it with Yahoo Music Engine, and had no problems). Sound quality is adequate, and we had no trouble cranking this up loud enough to rock out. The overall build of the player feels a little cheap and flimsy, though we like the fact that the head locks in place, so that it won?t inadvertently flip up and snap off. We also found the controls a bit unresponsive and tricky; consistently being able to pause a song was definitely an iffy proposition. The problem is mainly due to the diminutive size of the play button and outer control wheel; anyone with large fingers may have a hard time using this.

Our overall take: While there?s no question that $100 is a little steep for a 512MB, display-less player with bare-bones functions, it?s about the same price you?ll pay for an iPod shuffle with a similar set of features. Sure, the shuffle is smaller and lighter; but it doesn?t have this one?s novelty appeal. This will definitely be our player of choice for gym outings, if only for the looks we?re sure we?ll get when we prop it up on the treadmill control and run our headphone cable from its back.

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