The Korean-made JNC SSF-70 is very cool, neat and bursting with goodies – it comes with 128MB of MP3 storage plus voice recording plus a built in FM scanning tuner plus a built in auto-charging battery – all in a tiny tube designed to hang ‘round your neck on a special earphone/neck strap combo.
About the same size as a tube of menthol lollies, the smooth metallic-look case has a snap-off cover on one end covering the USB connector, which doubles as the power supply for the internal 380mAh Li-polymer battery. Charge time is about three hours, and gives at least two days full-on use per charge.
The package is bundled with decent quality headphones and neck strap, an extension USB lead in case your USB port is round the back of the PC, a driver CD and some instructions. Although, no extra software for MP3 handling is supplied.
Luckily, setup is simple. Just plugging in to an XP-equipped PC pops up a drive letter to swap files to. Although listed as being Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP and Mac compatible, theWindows ME driver didn't work. Setup located the unit but it never appeared on the drive list, making file exchange impossible.
Our review sample was slightly confusing in that some of the icons on the superbly legible, blue backlit LCD window were in Chinese as well as English. All controls are via two buttons (play, repeat/record voice) and a multi-function jog dial. This controls operation mode, volume, station scan in FM, file deletion and selection, and can be a bit fiddly in use. There are too many functions to remember with all the press/slide/hold/deep press options available. Just a couple more dedicated function buttons would be much better. There is also a hold switch to stop accidental control presses.
In use, the SSF-70 was surprisingly effective. The tiny microphone records voice conversations stored as WAV files available for download when you next plug it in. Both the MP3 and FM radio offer decent quality. Any music tracks – no matter how deeply nested in directories – will be automatically picked out and played, and the 10-way equaliser is above average. Of course you can use the generous 128MB as a removable drive for swapping any data between computers.
Overall, it's a very well thought-out design, with a neat display, and almost too many functions. If only there were more buttons instead of that ultra-multi-function jog dial.