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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [07.21.05]
Manufactured by: Sorell

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The World's Best Kept Secret

I tend to think that South Korea is one of the best kept secrets in the Consumer Electronics world, at least from North Americans. Koreans have the innovation and ability to make high quality products you'd expect from Japanese companies, but can manufacture them at a fraction of the cost. And unlike the bargain basement CE devices designed China, Korean products are often well designed, reliable, and of good quality. Our readers may have first hand knowlege in this quality, if they've had experience with any of Zalman's silent cooling products.

One area where Korea might actually be leading is in portable music devices. In North America, we have the usual suspects from Creative, iRiver, Dell, and Apple. These units are generally well designed, and even though they are made in China most of the time, can usually be counted upon for years.

We also have Sony, who can certainly make a nice MP3 player. However they choose to cripple them with proprietary file formats, and poor software. And the prices are usually outrageous.

And then there are the bargain basement China MP3 players. These might work 'fine' for most people (provided they don't know/care about audio fidelity), but in less than a year will usually break down. I know this, because I have first hand experience with several of these.

But if you go shopping anywhere else in the world, you have one more choice: Korean products. Companies like Samsung, Hyundai, Datum, and Kyocera offer buyers a choice between the overpriced Japanese and American products, and the low quality products from China. For the past few years, my personal MP3 player has been a Datum unit I bought in Hong Kong. It has served me well over the years, even though it's a bit long in the tooth now with a capacity of only 128MB.

So I was delighted when offered the chance to check out a player from a company few of our readers have heard of: Sorell. Sorell was spun off from Samsung Electronics back in 1998, before Samsung became the huge conglomerate that it is now. Although it spun off, they still worked with Samsung, manufacturing the successful "YEPP" line of MP3 players for them.


The first player we'll be reviewing from Sorell is the SF2000, a flash based player with a funky EL display:

The SF2000 comes in white or purple, two-toned with black. It's also available in all black or silver. It's not exactly widely available at this point, but the one store that does carry it is the one we all know and love: They have a silver 256MB version for $87.99, and a 512MB version for $134.99. Unfortunately, that's as high as it gets for capacity, and the price seems quite high for such small capacity. When you can get something like a 1GB Creative MuVo TX for $117, or a 512MB Samsung Yepp YP-T7X for $120, or even a 512MB iPod Shuffle for $100, the Sorell is high in price by comparison.

However it has some unique features that set it apart from the rest, and I'm not just talking about having a display screen.

Speaking of Display Screens

The coolest thing about the SF2000 has to be the Electro-Luminescence display screen. It consume little power, is easy to read, and gives it a unique, almost old-school look:

They manage to cram a lot of information on the screen, but it's all clear and easy to read. The progress bar on the bottom right is one item that I particularly appreciate, and miss on pretty much every other flash player.

The display can also be set to show small animations, and even lyrics. Sorell includes an application that can download lyrics, and arrange them to be displayed on the player when the song is being played.

Next Page: (Features & Interface)