15 Oct 1999 @ 12:00 PM 

The Pine D’Music SM200C, the first major effort to sell a CD-based MP3 player with ID3 tag support, is a qualified success.

The ID3 support works, and shows you the Song Title only, not the artist (picture). If the ID3 is missing, the display shows a simple Unknown Tag message instead. Once the track scrolls across the display once, it stops and shows only the first 8 characters of the title.

The navigation system for the Pine is a bit unwieldy as well, with no method of negotiating directory structure at all. The directories work, but you can’t delve into them specifically, as you can with the RioVolt.

The Pine unit also has the unfortunate problem of being limited to ISO9660 filenames. So, if you burn long filenames, as most people do, the Pine player will only sort by the truncated 8.3 filename. And, as many people have noticed, that doesn’t leave you much room to add sorting information if you have a lot of files from the same artist. For those that are unfamiliar with 8.3 filenames (welcome back to DOS), the Windows system that most are using was built on older standards that had file limitations of 8-character main name with a 3-character extension. So, you may have a file named This is a cool song.mp3, but the Pine will see THISIS~1.MP3 or, even more inexplicable to the newbie, may see THISIS~4.MP3, and will get sorted after another track you have named This is nowhere near as cool.mp3, because that track has somehow ended up with the short filename of THISIS~2.MP3. This ISO9660 limitation also extends to directory names, and there are even more problems ahead there.

If your directory and filename together are too long, the ISO9660 system gets confused. I have some disks that will play 3 songs from one directory, move to a different directory and play one track there, move back to the original directory and play the same 3 songs again, then go to some third directory and play the entire contents of that one normally. All this while I have the player set to play “straight through” from beginning to end, no less. As I said, inexplicable at times.

In order to move through the tracks on your disk, you can use the Scan button, or use the +10 mode. Hitting Scan will spin through all the tracks of the disk, playing the first 10 seconds of each before moving on. The +10 mode is probably more useful to most people, unless you’ve memorized what the first 10 seconds of your target track sounds like. To jump ahead more than one track at a press, you put the D’Music into pause, then hold the FWD or RWD keys for a second or two, then they’ll jump 10 tracks at a time instead of one.

The equalizer function works well, with several presets to toggle through, as you see fit. Strangely, I found the Classical setting helped most of my Hiphop and Rock tracks sound best. Go figure.

The battery life for the D’Music is about normal for a portable CD player: 4 hours on fresh batteries. It does, however, include rechargeable batteries (picture) and is used as the battery charger for them. This is a very nice feature, as you can leave the D’Music plugged into your car’s cigarette lighter for day-to-day use, then unplug it and feel confident the battery is fully charged and ready to go.

Overall, if there were no better options available, the Pine D’Music is a decent MP3 player, with a few major bugs (ISO limitations the biggest). As it is, since the RioVolt came out, Pine has dropped the MSRP of the D’Music to 150USD, 20 dollars below the Volt. It would consider the Volt to be worth the 20 dollars.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 04 Jan 2019 @ 03:05 PM

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Categories: Reviews


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