Considering how popular USB flash drives are, we were a bit surprised to see it take so long to come up with something that seems so intuitively creative. It does leave us scratching out heads wondering why it took so long to come up with something that seems so obvious, yet innovative.
Right now, we are anxiously awaiting Mega Stick 2 because it increases the capacity to 256MB via a larger NAND flash memory chip. 128MB is still a bit limited because of the number of MP3s that can fit onto the relatively small storage size.
Additionally, we would hope that MSI is also able to provide USB 2.0 on Mega Stick 2, as it will be easier to implement battery re-charge functionality. Apparently, SigmaTel is already offering their new STMP3550/3560 single-chip audio decoder, which provides everything we would like to see on Mega Stick 2 without an increase in real estate consumed by the audio decoder chip.
Some of the shortcomings that we see in Mega Stick 1 can easily be remedied via a user interact-able program that would allow for editing equalizer settings, playlists, etc. This addition would prove to be invaluable, as well as provide a more clutter-free way to program settings, since the menu button/forward/backwards toggle is a bit hard to use. We have already made this recommendation to MSI, and maybe in the future, this will pan out.
The battery life for MSI's Mega Stick 1 is rated at a maximum of 12 hours of playback with an alkaline battery according to MSI. In our own experience (drawn from a variety of battery brands), we got somewhere in the range of 10 to 11 hours of playback, which is plenty of time for a trip. Nevertheless, we would like to see the use of re-charge functionality for the next generation of Mega Stick because it will negate the need to carry around extra batteries.
Before the release of Mega Stick 2, MSI is going to do a minor refresh of Mega Stick 1, called Mega Stick 1 Limited Edition. Basically, the Limited Edition will feature new headphones and two new color schemes, which MSI calls “baby blue” and “hello kitty pink” (*no comment*).
Name brand 128MB USB flash drives are somewhere in the range of $40 to $65, while MSI's Mega Stick 1 has an MSRP of $119. Of those that are on the market, we highly recommend the Mega Stick 1 for those interested in getting a bit more from their USB flash drive. No doubt, it will be a great gift for the holiday season.
We took this on several of our trips, and we can testify to the durability of this MP3 player. The odd thing was that in our meetings with PR folks (not from the motherboard market), we were asked, “What is that little thing?” Once they found out what it was, they were readily impressed, and several asked where they could buy one.
Right now, we only see Newegg carrying this item, under the specified MSRP we might add. Hopefully, more retailers will pick this up soon. We have seen some other mini MP3 players on the market, but they do not have the same five-in-one functionality. Only MSI's Mega Stick 1 seems to have the FM tuner function, which others are clearly lacking.
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