Thursday, October 30, 2008

Coby MP-705. My Review.

The Coby MP-705 weighs 57 grams. For comparison my Samsung T10 weighs 44 grams and my iPod Nano weighs 36 grams. All three players are roughly the same length and width, and sport 2" (diagonal) LCD screens. The Coby is the thickest of the three at .37 inches (almost 3/8"). The T10 is .31 inches thick, and the Nano is .24 inches thick (less than 1/4"). A 4gb Coby MP-705 costs $53 at Amazon.com. The 4GB Samsung T10 is $80 at Amazon. You can't buy the new Nano in a 4GB model, but last year's version with 4GB can be found for $114 at Amazon. To put this in perspective, the Coby sells for less than half the price of an iPod Nano. Lets see how it stacks up against the competition. The bottom edge of the player is where you'll find the Mini USB port and headphone jack. There is a reset hole on the back. The top edge has the On-Off Power/Hold slider. All controls are on the front face, and are back lit touch sensitive. You'll find a Menu button, Options button, and a direction array with OK in the center. The silver ring you see is simply decoration.

The MP-705 is not huge. Only 3.75" long. You can see it here with my glasses and watch. The back is a polished aluminum. The front is a glossy black plastic. Both are fingerprint magnets.

Video. As I said, all three players have a 2" screen. The Coby cheats a little with only 220 x 176 resolution while the T10 and Nano have 320 x 240. With less than half the resolution, video playback on the Coby is unimpressive. There is only one menu option: brightness. Nice enough. Next/Prev and volume controls rotate while watching videos in landscape orientation. I can't give video play on the Coby MP-705 any better than a (C+). Yes, you can play videos on it. IMO it's not worth doing.

Music. The Coby will play MP3, WMA, and OGG audio formats.
The Nano will play AAC, MP3, Audible, Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV.
The T10 will play MP3 and WMA. Cover art in the music app is small, with no option to display it full screen. You can access the equalizer, play settings, and mark a song as "favorite" all within the music options menu. Sound quality is good, although not with the included earbuds. If you have associated lyric files with your songs, you can also turn lyric display on or off. Music will play even after leaving the Music App. But one serious flaw is that outside of the music app you have NO volume control. I'll give the Music app an (A-), for small cover art and this volume control flaw.

Photos. The Coby will display .JPG and .GIF files. The Nano will display .JPG files. The T10 display .JPG files. Again the low resolution screen looses this comparison. The lack of resolution in the Coby is very obvious when comparing the same photo on all players. Control over photos is very thorough, if clumsy. A long press of the center button will bring up pixel size, file size, and date of the current photo. Press the down button to rotate pictures in 90 degree clockwise steps. Within the options menu you can zoom in or out, change brightness, start a slideshow or set the show timer, or rotate an image. Zoom is very impressive, with no apparent limit on how much you can zoom in on a photo. I could zoom down to see individual pixels of a 768x960 photo, although each zoom step required 6 button presses. Coby seriously needs to simplify access to zoom in this photo app. Still, this zoom feature has more potential than on any other player I've tried. Photo gets an (B+), for the low resolution screen and inefficient access to the Zoom control.

FM Radio. FM radio reception and performance is adequate on this Coby. Like all other players the headphone cable serves as antenna, so reception varies with position, length, and shielding of that cable. Your reception will also depend on where you live and the strength of stations near you. The MP-705 allows manual tuning, Auto scanning, adding and deleting of presets. I could not tell what limit there might be on the number of FM preset channels. Coby is a bit stingy with specs for this player. FM play will stop if you back out of the Radio application. No listening to the radio while you peruse your pictures. Accessing preset channels is a little confusing. If you've just done an autoscan the FM player will remain in "Preset" mode allowing you to move right and left through preset channels. Yet if you leave the player then re-enter it, you can only access preset channels through the options menu. There doesn't appear any way to toggle preset or manual tuning. I'll give the Coby MP-705 FM Radio App a (B+).

Text. While the Coby does let you read .TXT files you can store on it, the low resolution again inhibits the value of this feature. There is only one font. Legible. You can scroll up and down within a document, or page right and left through a screen's worth at a time if you wish. A nice feature is Auto-Page, where the Coby automatically advances to the next page after a preset amount of time. You can change this amount of time from 3 to 15 seconds. You can also set one or more bookmark within text files. A tap on the options button will tag a location. Unfortunately it takes a longer touch of the same button to recall and goto or delete saved bookmarks. I found it too easy to accidently set a tag. The eBook reader on the Coby gets a (B).

User Interface. You manuever through the MP-705's main applications by tapping left or right direction buttons. The graphics used are uninspiring, but adequate. The current time and play status is shown at the top of the screen. You'll see a postition marker at the bottom of the screen, indicating where relatively among the 7 apps you are. The touch controls are sensitive enough. Their backlight turns off very quickly, no doubt to save battery life. The buttons still respond with the backlight off, so it's not a functional problem, yet I am bothered by this "invisible" nature of the Coby's controls. I suspect I'll get used to it though.

Value? With touch controls and a sleek design the Coby MP-705 appears to be more expensive than it is. The reality of it's features brings the low price into perspective. Coby saved costs on the screen, UI development, extent of features, and online support. Of all my players that came with 4gb memory including the T10, Zen, Hip Street, Sylvania, and a few others cost more. Many had add-on memory slots. Most had mics with voice recording. One even had a camera. Yet if you don't need those features then the Coby MP-704 will do fine, and is priced appropriately for what it does. A better value than the iPod Nano although not as thin or stylish.

Overall grade? (B+).

4D

15 comments:

  1. thanks so much for your review. Coming from somebody in the public meas soooo much more than "profesional reviewers" than people that actually use a product.

    I think I will buy it.

    PS

    Phillips GoGear turned out to be such a piece of crap I am very sorry I wasted 45 bucks for basically a tiny paper weight.

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  2. Sorry to hear about your GoGear paper weight. My big one with bluetooth has gotten a firmware update that fixed several of it's flaws. It's actually got better bluetooth features than all but my Samsung P2 and T10.

    Glad you like the review. I enjoy writing them.

    4D

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  3. nice review . it will be on my list.

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  4. Nice review. I just got mine so now I get to see if I agree ...
    Thanks for the comment about turning on MSC; I was wondering why it didn't show up under Ubuntu ...

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  5. A small update to :
    "Yet if you leave the player then re-enter it, you can only access preset channels through the options menu. There doesn't appear any way to toggle preset or manual tuning."

    Just tap the 'M' button, it toggles between manual and preset.

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  6. Thanks for that update. I had to turn mine on and check. It might raise my grade for the radio app to an A.

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  7. well...A nice review even if you did sound a little picky for the price.Im going to get one.

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  8. Thanks for this review. Everything in the review is basically spot-on. It took me a day to realize the metal ring is purely decorative. I kept trying to scroll through stuff like an Ipod. The touch controls are kind of lame, but you get used to them. The blue back light is 'neato' on dark nights. I had an issue with USB connections that almost made me return the player, until I discovered you had to go into the settings and set usb to NOT be 'Auto'. Now I can see all the files on the player correctly in windows Vista premium.

    I have found the battery life to be adequate.
    The sound quality is impressive, using a pair of Sony MDR-7506 professional studio monitor headphones. I've been trying to find someone who disassembled one to find out what's inside. I suspect this has a Wolfson audio chip in it, which would explain why the audio quality is very good.

    Like many players, this one might benefit from having an external headphone amp if you desire really high volume levels with large diaghraghm headphones.

    The build quality is surprisingly good.

    I've had no issues with lock ups/freezing yet.
    Had it for two weeks using it every day 2 - 3 hours.

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  9. i got a coby mp3 model 705-8g for my birthday..the cotrols are confusing. and there's no abc order. i hate it and it ruined my birthday.

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  10. Update. I'm the same person that left August 29th,2009 comment.

    I wish there was a better manual that came with this because I was unaware of pressing M to switch between manual and preset until now. I dissasembled mine to see what it's inside and discovered it's an Action Electronics ATJ2135 system on a chip in there. This has the audio ADC/DAC built in. The FM Radio is the standard Philips chip used in many of them that's controlled with an I2C bus. The flash rom on mine is a Hynix 4gb part. It also has 2 MByte of Hynix SD100 ram in there.

    What's really cool is the processor on board is a 250 mhz (max) MIPS R3300 32bit risc core processor. Woah nelly. That'd be good enough to run Linux on it. HEH

    Plus it has a 90mhz 24 bit DSP for audio and some kind of dedicated video decoder section in hardware as well.

    The DAC is a 24 bit delta-sigma type with oversampling and I must say it sounds very good. I'm not sure but I think I read the ADC section is 21 bits in the datasheet for the ATJ2135 chip. This won't matter in the Coby since we wer'nt even given a mic or recording app.
    It used the ADC to digitize the analog out from the radio chip before sending it to the DAC to drive the headphones. There is no capability in the software to record the radio.


    I found more info on the hardware at rockbox.org

    It uses the same chip as the iRiver E100 so if you read up on the port to the E100 you'll find links to docs talking about the ATJ2135.

    Overall I'm very happy with it. The audio quality is great, it works , it looks pretty good, and I've used it to view photos on it
    but I still havn't tried putting any videos on it.

    It's still working with glitch free performance so I'm very happy about that. Too many of these cheap mp3 things lock up and freeze and stop working so I'm glad the Coby is a lot more reliable compared to the other cheap ones.

    Again, downside is poor screen resolution. Coby obviously elected to save money on the screen.

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  11. hello,
    i bought a coby mp705-4g. 2 weeks after we got it, it went into "cby...starting up" and has never gone beyond that. is there anyway i can fix this? aside from dealing with teh *ucktards at Coby(already went that route)

    thanks for your time.

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  12. Hello, Anonymous. There is a reset hole somewhere on the 705. Try sticking the end of an opened up paperclip in there. If that doesn't help then the best I can suggest is to take it back for a refund. Coby makes them cheap, and they are. Yes it should work. Let them know if yours doesn't.

    4D

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  13. Does anyone know how to change the battery in one? Really need to know how to open it up.

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  14. By any chance do you know to take apart the coby mp3?

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  15. Sorry, but I can't help. Your best bet is to contact Coby and see if they can help.

    4D

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