Haier America recently released their very own portable media player. It’s a simple music, photo, and video player available in 4 and 8 GB capacities. I didn’t expect much when I picked it up, but for the price it packs quite a punch. It even has a FM radio and voice recorder built right in. There’s no question, this device can’t compare to the quality of an Apple iPod Nano or Microsoft Zune, but it’s an affordable alternative which deserves a quick look.
Haier HV18A Specs:
- Capacities: 4GB and 8GB
- Screen: 1.8″ LCD Color Display
- Music Format: MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV
- Video Format: .SMV (huh?)
- Other: FM Radio & Microphone
- Connector: Mini USB 2.0
- Price Range: $45-$60
The Body: 4/5 stars
The design of the Haier media player is very simple. The face is slightly elevated, and the edges curve off into the side. Below the 1.8″ screen, the player includes touch sensitive buttons for the menu, volume, left/right, and “ok”. All these keys light up blue and are embedded into the body. That unfortunately means buttons are difficult to find when you aren’t looking at the device. The built in microphone and the power button slider, which also locks the device, are on the left side. There’s a small reset pinhole on the right side, which I hope doesn’t need to be used. Despite the player’s sleek and simple look, the glossy finish and mirrored back makes it a great finger print magnet. I found myself cleaning off the front constantly just to be able to see the display. The sliding key also had a few issues since it’s too small. If you have large hands, it’s hard to be able to slide and hold up for a few seconds to get it to turn off or on. But once again, for the price, I was pleased with the design.
Music: 3.5/5 stars
The music playback features on the Haier were quite satisfying. It includes all the standard actions such as play, pause, and track navigation. There’s even a repeat function and equalizer setting built in. The sound quality was decent for the average person, audiophiles probably won’t be picking this up anyways. The player doesn’t allow viewing images while music is playing. It’s not a big deal, but most other players offer this feature. The biggest lacking was the inability to display album artwork while playing music. This media player also didn’t support shuffle or playlists. Even for an inexpensive player, some of these issues are essential and almost necessary for any music player.
Video: 2/5 stars
When this came in, I assumed that I would be able to play movies on it. I was wrong. I transferred some common .mp4 and few other video formats onto it. Nothing worked. After looking through the manual I was disappointed to find that it only supported a .smv video format. I don’t know much about that format since I’ve never heard of it until I got this. They offered a tool to convert videos into the format, so I downloaded and installed it. I found that even on a fairly fast dual core laptop, it took way too long to convert. I threw in a 890MB for conversion and it took a few minutes for each percent. Music playback was decent, but Video support just isn’t practical. It’s there, but too much of a headache to deal with.
FM Radio: 4/5 stars
If there was one thing that was great on this, it’s the radio. Browsing through radio stations was easy and I was even able to create a list of 20 favorite channels. That’s a convenient so I don’t have to scroll through each station every time I turn the device on. Plus I only listen to a couple of stations in my area anyways. There wasn’t a scan function, but holding the left or right button jump to the channels with the best signal. It’s a fairly small device so the signal quality was disappointing at times, but that’s expected for anything with such a small receiver. For the most part, the radio worked just fine.
Microphone: 4/5 stars
The microphone on the Haier is located on the left side of the player. Surprisingly the audio quality that came out of a few recordings were quite impressive. I recorded a lecture and even a conversation I had with a friend in a quite room. They all sounded pretty clear without any static or interference. Recording duration is only limited by the space on the device. The player unfortunately doesn’t let me delete recordings without having to connect it to a computer first. This might be an issue at times if you run out of space and can’t get to a computer.
Considering the Haier Video MP3 Player costs around $49 for a 4GB model, you can’t go wrong. The biggest drawback is the limitations of video playback. It’s just not worth spending the time to convert standard and commonly used file formats into something random. Plus with a small 1.8″, I probably wouldn’t want to load much more than a few music videos and YouTube clips onto it. The rest of the device worked fairly well. The inclusion of shuffle and playlist feature would have been appreciated. The best part is the simplicity of syncing. It even worked perfectly with Ubuntu 9.04 in addition to Windows 7. It’s just a simple mass storage device. Anything placed on it will be detected after it’s disconnected. If you are looking for first MP3 player for children, the Haier Video MP3 media player is a great place to start for an affordable price.