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Consumer review: My $10 MP3 player

Tom Jackson • Mar 23, 2010 at 6:27 PM

I've long been intrigued by the way yesterday's expensive electronic device becomes today's cheap made-in-China commodity.

I was struck by that again when I saw the Ollie's Bargain Outlet ad in our newspaper and noticed that it was selling MP3 players, with a FM tuner, for $10. (Read our newspaper ads carefully for bargains!)

I ran out and bought one.

The first one quit working after about one minute, and I exchanged it.

The second one has worked fine, although after one minute it mysteriously shut down, and I had to "reboot" it by taking the battery out and putting it back in.

The Coby brand player has 512 MB of space, enough for dozens if not hundreds of songs. It has a USB port, so I simply plugged it into the computer and dragged over some songs. Sound quality is decent; you may want to use your own earphones rather than the ones that come with it.

Because of the USB port, the Coby MP-C855 can double as a thumb drive for transferring files). The FM tuner is not particularly sensitive (as you would expect with such a device) but it does work, and the device even has station presets. It also will make recordings from FM broadcasts.

There's also a microphone, and I verified that it will record my voice, although I'm not sure yet I trust it for doing interviews for work. A 48-page manual explains many different features and options.

I don't think Steve Jobs is suffering sleep loss thinking about Coby, but I thought I got my ten bucks worth.

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