Haier's HV18A-4G Video MP3 Player Has Some Serious Battery Power
At a Glance
If you're sick of using an MP3 player that frequently runs out of battery power, the Haier HV18A-4G ($50 for 4GB, $60 for 8GB) is for you. Featuring an audio-playback time of 30 hours, this sleek MP3 player also plays videos, offers an FM transmitter, and provides a voice recorder.
The HV18A-4G measures 3.5 by 1.5 by 0.25 inches (about the same size as a fifth-generation iPod Nano) and has a 1.8-inch, full-color TFT LCD, as well as a nifty touch-panel keypad. With a slick black-and-chrome encasing, the player is fairly attractive (it looks a lot like the first- and second-generation iPod Nanos). Unfortunately, it attracts fingerprints like nothing else; the touch panel, integrated into the casing, is a smudge magnet, too. The power/lock switch is on the side, while the volume buttons, fast-forward/rewind controls, and OK and Menu buttons are on the touch panel. The touch panel is incredibly responsive--so much so, however, that I ended up accidentally brushing it and changing the song as I was reaching over to press the lock button.
Audio through the included earbud headphones is decent, offering good bass and full sound. Though the results are much cleaner on higher-quality headphones (I tried Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones), the bundled earbuds are better than most, and certainly superior to Apple iPod earbuds. The player has an equalizer (the only sound-setting option, as far as I can see) that includes Normal, XBass, Rock, Jazz, Classical, and Pop settings.
Video playback is decent, considering that the screen is just 1.8 inches. The player comes with ArcSoft Media Converter 3 for turning regular video files into the supported .smv format. The ArcSoft program, which took about 25 minutes to convert a 30MB file in my tests, is not compatible with certain codecs, such as Divx and Xvid. The screen resolution is only 128 by 160 pixels, but video playback is smooth and seamless.
The menu is fairly simple and easy to navigate, once you get the hang of it. The only aspect I found unintuitive was that in vertically oriented menus you still have to press the fast-forward/rewind buttons to scroll up and down (because the volume buttons are dedicated only to that function, and don't double as scrolling controls).
You can add music and pictures to the player by dragging and dropping the files in Windows Explorer or by synchronizing through Windows Media Player. Supported formats include MP3, WMA, and OGG for audio, and JPEG and BMP for pictures. You can't sync playlists from Windows Media Player, however.
In addition to the earbuds and the ArcSoft Media Converter 3 software, the HV18A-4G comes with a USB 2.0 cable, plus 35 free eMusic downloads and one free audiobook download (with a 14-day trial subscription to eMusic).
The touch panel is just a bit hypersensitive (luckily, the device has a hold button), but otherwise the affordable Haier HV18A-4G is a decent little MP3 player with great battery life. The main thing that holds this device back is its small capacity--it's available only in 4GB and 8GB versions, neither of which is enough space for most people's music and video libraries.