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

Napa Sucks Batteries.

Here the Napa really blows it, it might as well have only a two hour capacity for MP3 audio because that's all you're going to be able to listen to unless you're tethered to a wall outlet. Sure it's easy to recharge the batter, and it's not like you have to keep buying AAs, but only two hours of juice just isn't enough. Perhaps the Napa should include a spare battery that you can charge on its own and swap out to at least give you 4 hours of battery life... but even 4 hours isn't that great.

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The Competition

Against all the other MP3 or MP3/CD players out there the Napa wins out with its VCD and video capabilities. Depending on what you want to get out of the unit, the importance of video may be a huge deal, or not a deciding factor at all. That said, the inclusion of video options does raise the 309, even briefly, above the rest of its competition.

When compared with other MP3/CD players the 309 has the advantage of an internal battery, but one whose charge won't exceed much more than 2 hours. It's a good thing they made recharging the battery so easy because any 309 user will be doing a lot of it. Because I haven't tested the anti-shock of any other MP3/CD players I really can't pass judgment in that area. The problem could be unique to the Napa, or it could plague all MP3/CD players, I really don't know but it's something to be wary about.

Stacked up against other MP3 players on the market the Napa has the advantage of incredible storage capacity on dirt cheap media. While it does require a CD burner to actually get the MP3s onto CDs, the market penetration of CD-R/RW drives of late makes this less of an issue. Of course, despite their comparably tiny storage capacity, MP3 players I've used have no problems with skipping as their use of solid state memory eliminates the problem completely. Furthermore, all units I've seen have at least 10 hours of battery life when using internal batteries. Straight MP3 players also tend to be much smaller and more 'portable' than something that needs to be big enough to hold a standard CD size. Of course they can't play audio CDs because of this, which starts making the Napa look a bit better.

I won't even touch on the hard drive-based MP3 players because while they have great storage capacity, and many of the benefits of straight MP3 players, the cost of these units at this time doesn't even put them in the same league as the 309.

And The Survey Says:

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