Volume Number: 19 (2003)
Issue Number: 3
Column Tag: Reviews
by Michael R. Harvey
The KanguruMicro MP3 is a combination device from Interactive Media Corporation. It is both a USB micro drive, and MP3 player. It is roughly the size of any other USB micro drive available today, and is loaded with compact flash memory in sizes from 64 MB to 256 MB. The drive comes with a short USB cable, and a set of ear buds. A belt clip is integrated into the drive case.
As a micro drive, it is much like any other device of this type. It has a USB interface, and plugs into any Mac without the need for additional drivers. It mounts, and acts as any removable device would. Copying files to and from the drive is as simple as drag and drop. Having a USB interface means that the copy process is painfully slow, however. Copying 60 MB of MP3 files to the device took about 17 minutes. The device is lockable via a switch on the side of the drive. Mounting and unmounting the drive under OS X caused no problems. Under OS 9, however, unmounting the drive proved problematic. Dragging the drive to the trash in OS 9 produces an error message, and the drive is left on the desktop. Just unplugging the drive likewise yields an error, and a ghost of the drive icon remains on the desktop. If you plug the drive back in again, a new drive icon is spawned. The only way to clear the ghost drive icons is to reboot.
The MP3 player incorporated in the KanguruMicro is what makes this device unique. The MP3 player is activated when a headphone jack is plugged into the unit. When that happens, the player automatically begins to run through any MP3 files it finds on the drive in alphabetical order. The controls are simple. There is one knob you can move for various controls. Press on it to pause or continue playback. Sliding it to the right or left and then releasing it will move the next or previous track, respectively. Sliding the knob one way or the other and holding will increase and decrease the volume. The headphone jack is the small, 2 mm type, which the included set of ear buds can plug in to. The nice thing about the ear buds, though, is that they are integrated into a lanyard you wear around your neck. The end of the lanyard ahs a detachable clip that lets you easily remove the player from the cord. Included in the package is an adapter to let you plug the more standard mini-jack type head phones so your are not stuck using only the included set of ear buds. The device has a rechargeable battery in it that is powered up from the USB bus. It takes about one and a half hours to fully charge the player. Over a seven day period, we got about 4.5 hours of playing time from the MP3 player.
The 64 MB version of the KanguruMicro MP3 sells for $89.95. The middle, 128 MB version goes for $119.95, while the top end 256 MB device has a price of $179.95. Is it worth it? Well, not really. It's small, compact size is convenient, the included ear bud lanyard is quite interesting, and the dual use capability makes it unique among USB flash drives, but it just doesn't stack up to other MP3 players available today. Especially the iPod. For a little more, the iPod provides all the functionality of this unit, only more so with more space and a faster interface. Give this Kanguru player a miss.
Michael R. Harvey