Date: November 30th, 2006
Article by: Mike Carter (Hardware Reviewer)
Edited by: Nathan Glentworth (Owner / Head Editor)
Product was submitted by: Merconnet
<--SHOP FOR A MP3 PLAYER FM WIRELESS TRANSMITTER HERE
PRODUCT PICTORAL AND WALKTHROUGH
Lining the top is a complement of buttons, which control playback and setting functions. To the left is a “hold” button, which locks the player, preventing any button from working.
The backside of the AnyDrive holds the battery compartment, which accepts two AAA batteries. Batteries, of course, are not included.
All in all, a simple design, so let's see what the AnyDrive can do.
Let's start with some basics. The AnyDrive is not an MP3 player, in the normal sense, as it has no built-in memory. You provide this through either an SD card or USB device. Merconnect touts the AnyDrive as an MP3 playing card reader, so this is no surprise.
Given the name, I was a little disappointed to see that the AnyDrive only supported a few types of memory. While SD/MMC cards are the predominant form of removable flash memory these days, it would be nice to see a few more options.
One of the complaints of the original AnyDrive was the placement of the USB port, which limited the type of drive used. Merconnect fixed that by placing the USB port out in the open. Of course, the drawback to this is your USB key is also out in the open, and it limits the space the AnyDrive can be placed. One wrong move could break either the player or your flash drive.
The unit also accepts a line-in 1/8” minijack, to allow your outboard media player to use the FM transmitter, which is handy for those who have a dedicated PMP.
I chose to use an SD card for testing, and used a Corsair 1GB card for the job. The AnyDrive only supports MP3 files, so if you have a lot of MP4, AAC, WMA, or FLAC files, you'll need to convert them. I find this to be a pretty major shortfall, given the AnyDrive's designation as a “card reader”. When the original AnyDrive was produced, this wouldn't have been a problem, as MP3 was the dominant format. Today, though, there are a lot of choices, and for a $70 asking price, I would like to see at least support for WMA or FLAC files. This shortfall is mitigated, to an extent, by the ability to connect an external MP3 player to the minijack, and use the AnyDrive purely as an FM transmitter.
Once I loaded up some MP3's and inserted the card, I fired up the player. Well, at least I tried to….the instructions say to press the “+” button to turn the unit on, but, as you can see from the photos above there is no “+” button. Likewise, the instructions say to press the “-“ button to turn off the unit. After a bunch of headscratching, I figured out that holding down the Play button for a few seconds turned the unit on.
Pressing the A button cycles through the various settings, which include repeat modes, EQ settings, and the radio frequency setting. Pressing the forward and back buttons adjusts the setting you have selected.
The B button selects the input, cycling through the SD/MMC card slot, USB port, and minijack.
The LCD display, by default, cycles through the seven available backlight colors, and I could not find a way to set it to just one color. After several minutes of fooling around with the buttons, I gave up and let it be. Fortunately, the backlight turns itself off after a few seconds of inactivity.
The display itself is rather Spartan, only displaying basic info: Track number, time, EQ setting, repeat mode, volume level, and frequency. Track names are not shown.
Playback through my car stereo is decent enough, with only a little bit of compression evident. At maximum volume on the player, though, the sound distorted a bit; backing off the volume a notch solved that issue. Likewise, playing through my home stereo was a pleasant experience. My trained ear noticed, again, a light bit of compression, but it's something the casual user will not notice. Range was also good, with the signal cutting out at about 25 feet, a few feet short of the rated 30 feet.
The line-in minijack can also be used as a headphone jack, but even at maximum volume, the AnyDrive is far from loud. It'll do in a pinch, if you want to listen at work and don't have a radio handy. Battery life is also very good, lasting 18 hours before pooping out. Of course, you can also use the included 12v car adapter and skip batteries altogether.