You get what you pay for
Reviewed in the United States on 7 March 2019
My model: A02, Dark Blue.
Who should immediately look elsewhere:
Audiophiles; Anyone with a messy music collection; Anyone who has a music collection consisting of a large variety of file types; Anyone with a large music collection; Anyone who needs this for videos; Anyone who has Bluetooth headphones or wants Bluetooth connectivity of any sort
Who should keep reading to make sure:
Those with low budgets; Anyone with a neatly organized, 8 GB or less music collection they will mostly listen to by album, artist, or just every track shuffled.
This thing is stripped down to nothing essentially. It's practically a flash drive with a headphone jack at the end of the day. However, for that price, I didn't expect much else, and I recognized that I was taking a chance on the device. In my opinion, there are some nonredeemable drawbacks to the device that will make me probably buy a different device. (I won't return it simply because the cost of returning it would be a third of the cost of the device, so I might as well keep it as a backup for whatever I decide to go for next.) However, depending upon what you want it for, it might be just fine.
Things you should know right out of the gate:
- No Bluetooth! They make that pretty clear on the product page but people still ask. It's part of why it's so cheap.
- No it does not interface directly with iTunes. (It does interface with MediaMonkey, a much better program, but not as cleanly as it should.) However, you can select all tracks of a playlist or whatever in iTunes, copy them, and paste them in the player folders like a flash drive, so you won't need to abandon iTunes.
- Formats I've found that it DOESN'T play: ALAC (aka Apple Lossless, which will show up with an m4a extension, you just have to pay attention to the bitrate), AIFF, and lossless WAV files. If you have the wrong format, there are a bunch of file converter programs to help you convert to the right format though. This is a pretty small problem. FLAC is a perfectly reasonable lossless file format, but it's the only one this player really tolerates acceptably.
- The screen is tiny and pretty miserable resolution. It supposedly can play videos, but I can't imagine why on earth you would want to watch them on it. It's first and foremost a music player.
Now the nitty gritty.
1. Battery life is great as advertised, it will last more than one day of pretty steady listening. (But make sure when you're not using it to press the VOL button on the Now Playing screen, then hold the play button to put it in standby, or else it will continuously sap power at the same rate as it would if it was playing music.)
2. Audio output quality is pretty good, I would say at least as good as my iPod Classic Gen 5 that I was meaning to replace with this. There is an important caveat to this, though, in the con section.
3. Very portable.
4. No walled garden: This player can hook up to any computer and have its entire file directory recognized. This is normal to many of you reading, but I only mention this because I've been an Apple user for too long.
1. Its software system is SO stripped that it won't cooperate with playlists created on other music management software programs, even though they're in the correct format (supposedly M3U per the AGPTEK forum), or, at least, I have yet to figure out, after trying many things, exactly what the player software wants me to do with the playlist file so that it can recognize that "These are the songs I need to play, and they're all in this/these location(s)." I'm reasonably confident I'm just doing something wrong, but right now I have two mutually exclusive options: I can have all the files in neatly hierarchical artist/album/genre/file name formats on the player by all my scrupulously assigned tags with using MediaMonkey to sync, or I can have everything organized into files as the playlist, and just play out of that file directly, but lose all of that convenient file organization for when I don't want to specifically play the playlist. This lack of freedom enrages me even though I listen to my carefully crafted playlists 99% of the time, and just listening to the contents of the files I create in the order they were added (which will also be the order they were copied and pasted in, so it will retain the order of the playlist from which you're copying) is usually fine.
2. Another software complaint: The player will not display the files by their tags; it will only display them by their file names. Coupled with the lack of hierarchical storage by tag that I can't do as described above, the only way I could definitely know the artist/album/track number with any sort of convenience was by downloading a new music management software program that could rename files by a designated naming scheme (MediaMonkey, fantastic program btw--I was formerly all iTunes because of Apple's walled garden legacy) so that every file name would display the track title, disc number, track number, album title, and artist in that order (because that's in the order of questions I ask when I pull out my player to check it and answer them). Problem successfully worked around? No because there's a limit to how long of a track name it will display in both the file directory and on the now playing screen. So I haven't figured out a way around this yet and it's annoying as all heck.
3. Yet another software complaint: The now playing screen. Why that design, AGPTEK? The screen is miniscule and low resolution (probably a big factor of how it conserves energy so well, no complaint with that). No one needs to see the album art on that thing, nor could we actually make things out if we wanted to, so why display it SO prominently, but not display all the tags for the file like track title, album, artist, disc number, track number, etc. upon immediate look? In fact, I don't know of a way to look at tag info other than repeatedly stop and start the player (so that it doesn't go into its screensaver) and wait for it to scroll through the tags on the now playing screen. Exceedingly frustrating. It's a good thing I know my music collection fairly well and how to answer my most likely questions the fastest.
4. A fourth more minor software complaint: If I have to find something in the library, I need some spare time because even though this things holds 128 GB at a time (supposedly--I'm close to 4000 tracks but I haven't tested the "It won't tolerate any more than 4000 tracks" reports of other reviewers yet), it will take you quite a while to scroll through, say, 1600 tracks. It does not speed up it's scrolling speed much if you hold down the up or down buttons longer, so you just have to wait and watch.
5. The player puts out a pretty nice audio output... but you can hear its various and assorted gizmos whirring about amidst all the goodness of your music, especially between tracks. I've heard things like this before with other players, especially ones with on-board hard drives, but not so prominently. It's not so loud that I can hear it through my car's auxiliary jack, but it's definitely loud enough to hear through my headphones even during quiet parts of audio playback, and it's certainly loud enough that I feel I have to complain about it. Believe it or not, this is one of the main reasons why I feel this device doesn't cut it for me. All the software things can be worked around with a little creativity. Hardware sounds are for the device's life; there's no workaround for that except replacement.
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