Thursday, January 10, 2008

Insignia Pilot with Bluetooth

Compared with many other flash MP3 players, the Insignia Pilot is not the most compact device: it measures 4 inches by 1.9 inches by 0.4 inch, so it's not huge but a bit on the long side. It's also not overtly stylish, but with its black body wrapped in a brushed silver trim, the player isn't an eyesore, either. The face of the Pilot features an ample 2.4-inch color LCD screen on the left and a control pad on the right. The latter consists of a menu button and mechanical scroll ring with four-way clicking capability surrounding a Play/Pause key. A Power/Hold switch and the rather unique star-rating toggle line the top edge of the player, and the ports--headphone, line-in/secondary headphone, and standard mini USB--reside along the right spine. Best Buy has also built-in SD card expansion slot into the bottom of the player, which is handy for users who don't want to be limited to 8GB of memory.

The Insignia Pilot knows what it's doing as far as ease of use is concerned--the main menu is icon-driven and music is organized into the typical Creative step-down structure (artist, album, genre, playlist, and so on)--but the interface isn't particularly exciting. You can change the wallpaper color, but that's about it: no themes and no setting your own images as a background. The playback screen displays album art, at least, along with a plethora of information on the currently playing and upcoming songs. And you have the option to switch between screens to view larger album art or, in some cases, a short artist blurb. Another nice--if unusual--touch is the star toggle on the top edge of the player. Flick it in to the left to take away stars, to the right to add stars, or push it straight down to access a contextual menu for changing playback settings or for placing bookmarks.

Doubtless, a big draw of the Insignia Pilot is the breadth of the player's features--it's almost insane. The device supports JPEG photos, MPEG-4 and WMV videos, and an outstanding number of audio formats: MP3, WMA, WMA Lossless, WMA DRM, WMA Pro, OGG, WAV, and Audible. There's even Rhapsody DNA integration, so you can transfer Channels (basically, Internet radio) to the player for on-the-go access. And if you get sick of digital, you can switch over to the FM radio, which offers autoscan and up to 20 presets. There's also recording for voice and FM (both in WAV) along with line-in (saved as WMA). Last but certainly not least, is the Pilot's built-in stereo Bluetooth functionality, which allows it to stream audio to Bluetooth headphones--definitely a nice touch for wire haters....

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