MSI, a company more known for producing quality motherboards and graphics cards, has come up with yet another digital audio player offering versatile functionality such as a video playback, voice recording, a photo viewer and even an e-book reader. The MSI P310 Mega Player looks to offer a lot of value for users, but with its small size, can it live up to its capabilities?
The P310 looks like a rehash of some old clamshell phone designs and to be honest, the retro design looks isn't a very flattering look in today's world of slim and sexy players. Upon closer inspection, the 'hinges' on the top are actually built-in stereo speakers. Its 1.5-inch display covers almost its entire front and the single play button gives an impression that the P310 is ready to rock as soon as it is filled up with media. As spartan as the design is, most of its controls are located on the sides. The volume and reset buttons can be found on the right, along with its built-in microphone. To the left, you've got your rewind, forward and menu buttons. At the bottom, you'll locate the USB port, allowing users to synchronize and charge the player at the same time.
The buttons on both sides can be easily be accessed but they are quite small, and may cause a slight problem for users with bigger hands. Through usage, we've encountered a slight problem with the protruded reset button as there is a chance that it may be accidentally pressed whilst adjusting the volume.
The P310 gives users a variety of formats to choose from as it supports MP1, MP2, MP3, WMA, WMV and ASF audio files. Video support comes in the form of a lesser known AMV format. The player comes with the required software to transcode your videos into AMV, so no worries there. The player also has JPEG support, e-book reading, lyrics display and an FM tuner built in. We’ve tuned in to some radio stations to test its signal and found minimal problems with it.
One of the better qualities of the P310 is its audio playback and it does a good job decoding the various formats. The P310 is able to complement various music genres as it has an equalizer mode (Natural, Rock, Pop, Classic, Soft, Jazz, DBB), allowing users to change how an audio track sounds. Users can also slow down or speed up their songs with the P310’s Tempo Rate feature. As a power saving feature, the LCD automatically shuts off during audio playback. This feature is meant to conserve battery file. Finally, the speakers on top of the MSI P310 automatically turns on if there are no earphones jacked in. And while it is good that users can listen to their tunes without resorting to an earphone set, it is not advisable as the output is positively tinny.
As any MP3 player, the P310 has its lot of great features and ideas, but it isn't without flaws that prevent this unit from truly shining, the biggest of which is its user interface. For one, there is a lot of 'lag' when shifting from one function to another, more noticeable during music playback mode (sometimes up to 10 seconds). Users must also remember to set the player to 'Normal mode' while navigating folders as well. Otherwise, the it automatically goes back to its root folder.
Menu access is a race, as users must immediately choose the options that he/she wants or the player will automatically jump all the way back to the main screen after a few seconds of idleness. Another quirk that required getting used to was the rewind/back button. Instead of going back to the start of a track, the function actually skips to the previous track, a slight inconvenience if you just want to repeat/restart the song you're listening to.
While there were a couple of problems encountered with the P310's interface and control, these drawbacks are not enough to stop it from being a noteworthy multimedia player. Its ability to play various audio files, videos, photos, and e-books, topped with its 1.5-inch color panel and stereo speakers make the P310 a must-buy for those who are currently looking for an affordable multimedia player. At US$74, it is a pretty decent price, but its 1GB capacity might not be enough if you've got a large media collection.