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MP3 Players: Size, Style and Sound

TrekStor Vibez, Continued

Finding the music you want is a snap with the Vibez. Not only can you scroll by artist or album, you can also sort tracks by genre, year, mood, playlist or composer, or use your own folder structure (handy for podcasts). Rather than scrolling directly through the list, you scroll through an A-Z list that filters what you see; this means an extra click to get to albums and artists near the beginning of the alphabet, but much faster access to all your other music. It's much simpler than the A-Z search on an iPod or some Sony players, because it's the standard way of navigating; you don't have to work out how to switch it on in the first place.

The DJ setting is a set of auto playlists to find the music you listen to most, music you haven't heard in a while, music from a particular decade, newly transferred tracks, or just 15 minutes of music you really like. You can make multiple playlists based on the current list of tracks, and you can delete playlists directly from the Vibez.

Instead of the usual cheap earbuds, you get a perfectly reasonable pair of Sennheisers; for once you don't have to budget for headphones too, as you get good sound through these, even at low volumes. The Vibez really shines with our reference headphones, like the Shure E500s; the sound is clear, rich and well defined. For EQ you get the option of adjusting bass and treble - simple controls that will satisfy most users - or using a 5-way parametric control that's a little fiddly but gives you precise results. Although not as impressive as the sound processing on the Samsung YP-U2, the presets are worth a listen. You can also tweak the player interface, changing the text colors and the background image - to a preset image or one of your own photos or album art images.

We like the standard mini USB power and sync connection, and the dedicated power and volume controls. There's no hold button, but you can lock the player from the menu, or by pressing the power button and the wheel simultaneously. The 20-hour battery life for music is good for a hard drive player, only a little behind the 24 hours of the iPod nano. You'll cut that down if you use the Vibez for viewing photos, though the high quality screen does make viewing a pleasure. As with music, you can browse images by metadata - this is the only player we've seen that lets you browse images by scrolling through a calendar view.

The Vibez supports a wide range of music at a bargain price, and you can record with the microphone or use the headphone socket as a line in connection. FM radio is optional, so you'll only pay for it if you want it - and you have to open the back to insert the (replaceable) battery anyway. The 8 GB model is probably too hefty to compete with the iPod nano - though you can buy it for rather less. The 15 GB model provides a nice balance between high capacity with a menu system that makes it easy to navigate, and a small and stylish player that won't weigh you down.