If the iPod Shuffle is too fragile for your rugged workout, the RCA Jet S2001 MP3 player is here to save you from the dreaded music-less exercise routine. Packed with 1GBof storagefor your fitness soundtrack, a digital FM tuner with 20 presets, and a stopwatch and armband, you get a whole lot of features and decent audio quality for a budget-friendly $69.
The size and shape of an egg (but flatter), the Jet fits in the palm of your hand and is so light that if the bumble bee-colored device landed on your head, you wouldn't feel it. Yellow on the outer rim, the Jet sports a black rubber control wheel that's strikingly similar to the layout of the iPod Shuffle, with a circular Play/Pause button in the center and the track-skip buttons to the right and left.
The plus and minus volume controls straddle the Play button vertically. The controls were simple to use, given the small physique of the device, but we found the volume buttons a little tough to press. The player doesn't have a Mute button, so we had to repeatedly hit the Volume-down button when listening to the radio to hear what a friend was saying.
Above the toggle lies the single-color OLED display. Not only were we happy to see a screen on such a small player, but you can rotate it electronically 180 degrees to view and change your songs easily while wearing it on your arm with the included band. We noticed that the screen was a little hard to read in the sun, however, which could be problematic for outdoor activities.
We put the rugged Jet through its paces on a two-mile outdoor run. It handled moisture just fine during our sweaty workout. We also dropped it a few times, and the music kept on playing. We did manage to break the top-right Menu button, though; we mistook it for the port cover and tried to open it.
Synching the Jet with a PC to load it with music was a piece of cake. Using Windows Media Player, we just connected the Jet to our computer with a USB cord and transferred our songs. It took less than a minute to transfer The Killers' Sam's Town album-nearly 61MB-to the device.
Music sounded great through the included (and comfortable) headphones. There wasn't any noticeable background hiss or echoes, and we could easily hear our tracks over treadmills and beeping taxis. We were also impressed by the FM tuner's signal quality, although our FM recordings sounded a bit tinny.
We got about 12 hours of playtime from a single charge-that's three hours less than the rated battery life, but more than enough juice for a few workouts. As with most value-priced MP3 players, you'll have to invest in an mini USB charger if you want to charge the player sans a PC.
We wish the controls were a little less stiff, but the RCA Jet S2001 is a worthy workout partner. If you want more storage, pick up the orange 2GB model, which sells for only about $10 more online.
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