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Reviewed By: Raindog [2.13.01]
Manufactured by: A-Max HK
Suggested Price: $199

Napa? Napsta?

You've got Napster in all sorts of legal trouble, Scour going belly-up, MP3.com tanking after a wild IPO and ultimately losing to the recording labels, it's a zoo. All legal and ethical issues aside however, one thing has become increasingly clear: MP3s are here to stay. Like em or not, MP3s are going to in some way revolutionize the recording industry and the way we look at purchasing music... but that won't happen for a while. But, since MP3s can be easily recorded from any existing audio media, the public can easily create extensive MP3 libraries (whether they be legal or not), and this has introduced a new market in the portable audio field, that of portable MP3 players. 

The Napa DAV309 is primarily an MP3 player that plays MP3s off burned CD-R/RW media, it also plays standard audio CDs, and something I've yet to see in a portable player, VCD playing capabilities. In this respect the Napa already differentiates itself from the majority of MP3 players on the market, but there's more... and less. Tallying up the plusses and minuses is it worth your hard earned dollar? Read more and find out.

What You Get

Unlike most portable audio players, the DAV309 comes with all sorts of stuff... most of it necessary because the 309 is much more than just a portable audio player, but we'll get to that a little later. Emptying the box we see the unit itself, a small credit card sized remote, audio and video connectors, a battery charging cable, and a seat of headphone ear buds. Pretty much everything you need to exploit all of the 309's features. While you won't find any gold plated connectors here, all the cables and such are of acceptable quality and not something you're really going to complain about. If you want super high quality audio you're not going to be listening to MP3s anyway.


The unit itself is about the size of a normal Discman. Measuring 254x234x66mm and weighing in at 960g it's surprisingly light. Unfortunately, the unit is quite big compared with other MP3 players on the market. Of course this is a necessity because the Napa needs to be able to support a full sized CD, not exactly the smallest and most convenient size for a portable player to begin with.

While I'm not sure if I'd go so far as to call the unit cheaply made, I did notice that it felt rather flimsy. While this may have been due largely to its light weight, I found with use that the buttons all seemed to require different levels of pressure to get them to work, and that the opening mechanism for CD loading was inconsistent at best. These are really just nitpicks, but they do hint at the potential fragility of the unit. This is not something I'd want to drop, unlike a friend of mine's sturdy sport Discman that I wouldn't hesitate to throw against the wall.

How do the MP3's sound?

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