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Geil iBall MPV Player Review

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Geil iBall MPV Player Product Review

A sleek and sexy newcomer to the MP3 Player market, Geil's iBall MPV Player is a formidable contender. Cool and compact, arrive in style with a designer MP3 player that can also stream videos.

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Geil, a company more noted as leading DRAM supplier then music manufacturer, has released it's first portable digital audio product. Hoping to take a bite out of an MP3 player market largely dominated by the popular Apple iPod, Geil has introduced the iBall MPV Player (Music Plus Video). This is the first product in the new 'family' they are calling DAViD (Digital Audio Video Intelligent Device). Ah, language in creation (they must be busy at Webster).

While not competing with the Apple iPod head to head, the iBall does well when compared to MP3 players with similar features, mostly in the mid-range market from iRiver, Rio and Sony among others. The iBall stands out because of it's unique shape and compact size, and it's ability to stream video. It does have it's limitations however, including slower file transfers and basic menu system functions. .

Geil iBall Features:

  • MP3 Player
  • MPV video file streaming
  • Regular and long play digital recording function
  • OLED color video and picture display
  • USB 1.1 Flash Disk function, support USB mass storage
  • Digital FM radio
  • E-Book / TXT reading
  • Multi-Language support with proper FONT files installed
  • 3D Stereo Sound Effect

The first thing that is obviously noticeable about the iBall is it's shape and small size. It is similar in shape to a very light and small pocketwatch. First impressions were actually somewhat anti-climatic after undressing the iBall from the beautiful packaging it came in. There was a bit of a scene in the office over who got to keep the box. The thing is, the iBall may be considered sexy, but the packaging is definitely sexier.

As an MP3 player, the iBall simply sounds great. There are several built-in EQ settings to choose from, which helped with lower quality mp3 files. And hats off to Geil, for including decent quality headphones. Many mp3 players come packaged with low quality headphones that you will need to replace right away, adding another few bucks to the tab. The iBall's headphones use tangle-free, silver-color coated wires, with earbud style headphones that are comfortable to wear for longer periods. Two big thumbs up for the headphones alone.

The included software is easy to set up and start using right away. The manual walks you through the basics, but hopefully someone will run the text through a spell checker for future printings. Transferring videos to the iBall requires converting the files to MPV, which you can do with the included software. We had trouble getting the video conversion to work successfully, but were able to load and play existing MPV music video files found online.

Plug and play means all you need to do is plug in the provided USB cable and drag files from your drive to the iBall. Unfortunately, USB 1.1 means slower transfer of files, especially if you are transferring a lot of files at once. It's not turtle slow, but in the eternal quest for speed, seconds do count. Hopefully Geil will address this in future updates.

So how practical is watching a tiny video screen only a tad bigger than your thumb? Believe it or not, the streaming video actually looks pretty darn good, even with it's tiny size! The colours are bright, images are crisp and the streaming video plays back very smoothly. It surprised us too. If you are serious about storing and streaming MPV files, you will really need the 512MB or 1G model because MPV files will quickly eat your storage space. Although the streaming MPV video is not reason enough to buy it, there is a cool factor to showing the newest music video to your friends on your iBall.

To play music and video files, you simply scroll through the file list using the forward and back buttons. If you have a lot of tunes, this can be a bit frustrating. Pictures can be displayed by scrolling as well. The color menu display is very easy to read, even at a distance. Road tested at night, the display makes it easy to read the name of a song from an arm's length. Although the menu display looks pretty good, it's not always the easiest to use if you want to do more than simple scrolling and playback of tunes.

Recording audio with the built-in microphone works quite well. The mic is cleverly hidden somewhere inside the casing. Three cheers for anyone who figures out where the mic actually is. It's useful for voice recording, but not music concerts (no, we didn't try). The digital FM tuner picked up all the stations in the area no problem.

    iBall MP3 players are available in three different storage options,
    built-in internal flash memory:
  • 256MB 512MB and 1GB
To give you a sense of the overall storage space, 1GB of built-in flash memory will hold up to equivalent 650 tracks or 45 CDs. That's a whole lot of music.

Well, the iBall has travelled through a few pockets over the last couple of weeks, and it has fared quite well in the opinion department. It compares quite well against MP3 players with similar features from iRiver, Rio, Panasonic, etc. It will likely appeal more towards those who are looking for a 256MB or 512MB player, mainly because the limited menu system will slow down power users who want to store hundreds of songs. With the included headphones and unique MPV video streaming feature, the iBall mp3 player is a worthy newcomer to the market (and it comes packaged in a very nice box). Geil is definitely a company to keep an 'eye' on.

Geil iBall MPV Player Review Copyright © 2005 CleverJoe.com

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