by February 9, 2001 0 comments

The latest entrant in the MP3-player market is Iomega with its Hip Zip MP3
player. However, this one’s different from the others in that it can also be
used as portable storage space for your important files. We checked out both
functions of Hip Zip and found it really easy to set up and use.

The MP3 player produces good quality sound and has a graphic equalizer and a
back lit display. It also has a Playlist manager that gives you a list of songs
on the disk. Using this, you can define what songs to play from the ones on your
drive. This way, you can skip the ones you don’t wish to listen to. People who
like blaring music will be slightly disappointed as the player’s volume level
isn’t very high.

The Hip Zip doesn’t have Flash memory or cards for storing data as other
MP3 players. This one has a PocketZip drive that reads 40 MB pocketzip disks
(previously known as Clik disks) for music. These sleek-looking disks are around
1/4th the size of a CD. Though the number of songs that can be stored in the zip
disk depends upon the size of each song, you can store about 40 minutes to 1½
hours of music on it.

The PocketZip drive, unlike Flash memory, is a mechanical contraption with
moving parts. Mechanical parts are supposed to have inherent delays because they’re
slower in turning on and performing other operations. We noticed this when we
pressed the play button and felt the disk rotating inside before the music
started. This stops after a while as the built-in buffer memory takes over.
After this, the operation was pretty sturdy. It didn’t skip a beat even when
we gave it a few jerks, which doesn’t happen in all portable CD players. The
device is slightly bulkier and heavier compared to other players, due to the
PocketZip drive.

The player has a built-in battery that plays for 10 to 12 hours, which is
longer compared to other MP3 players that use pencil cells. It takes two hours
to recharge fully. Its earphones go around the ears and hold on firmly.

The Hip Zip can also be used as portable storage space. When connected to a
PC, it is displayed as a separate drive in Windows Explorer. You can use it like
an ordinary drive, dragging and dropping files to and from it. MP3 files can be
transferred to it using MusicMatch Jukebox.

The player has a strong metal case and anti-skip rubber pads on its side,
which give it a sturdy look. The disk drive has a translucent cover to protect
it from dust. The complete box includes two40 MB disks, a sporty looking cover,
USB cable, power adapter, and earphones.

The PocketZip disks cost Rs 650 each, which is cheap compared to Flash cards,
but quite steep compared to traditional music CDs and cassettes. The unit itself
costs Rs 18,000, making it one of the more expensive MP3 players in the market.

Sandeep Saxena in Mumbai

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