Products under the Hello Kitty moniker have continuously established themselves in popularity and mass appeal among adolescents and teens as one of the world-wide leaders in the production of cool and colorful gadgets. The Hello Kitty Digital MP3 Player with 3 Changing Face Plates ($39.95, ages 7 to 14) by Sakar continues in that trend!
Weighing less than an ounce, this 1GB, battery operated (1 AAA battery) flash mp3 player includes 3 Change Face Plates, earphones, an instruction manual, USB cable and Music Express Software. The minimum software requirements are Windows 2000, XP or Vista (sorry Mac users) and the hardware stats are Pentium II 300MHZ, 128 RAM Recommended, a sound card and 250MB Free Hard Disk Space.
Constructed of light weight durable and sturdy plastic, even with the battery installed the mp3 player was still wispy and light as a feather in my hands! Setting up the player is a two step process which entails installing the included Music Express Software and connecting the USB cable (included) from the mp3 player to an available USB slot on a computer. Windows automatically discovers and installs the drivers.
Changing the face plates initially became a tug of war; carefully pulling and separating the face plate from the mp3 player was becoming a war of attrition. However, in all fairness, that could have been attributed to first time use. After that, changing the face plates was relatively a no brainer (and yes, the face plates fit very snug and secure on the unit)!
The controls are simplistic and easy to operate; a hold switch is on the left side of the unit, and an earphone plug, the built-in microphone and the slot for the included USB cable is located on the right side. The battery compartment is located on the back of the mp3 player and can be accessed by simply sliding down the detachable cover door.
Turning on the unit is done by pressing down on the play/pause key. Thus, one is presented with a Menu screen. The Menu is made of four choices: Music, REC (record), RPL (Replay of voice recordings done via the embedded microphone) and SYS (System). The actual navigation while not very intuitive is sort of like learning a combination and once I got that down, I didn’t have any problems. Pressing on the forward key is used to rifle through the four Main Menus and selecting a Menu is done by pressing on the Menu button, and within the sub menus, the navigation is done by using the fast forward button. Lastly, exiting a sub Menu is down by pressing on the Menu button which takes one back to the Main Menu screen (got that?).
Getting music on the Hello Kitty MP3 player is actually a straight forward and very easy process. The included Music Express software allows one to scan for all music on a computer, or strip music from a CD and convert it into WMA, WAV or MP3 (it does not play or convert the AAC format which is Apple Computer’s format used to play music on an iPod). There’s also a drag and drop feature that enables music to be copied over to the mp3 player within seconds! Another cool feature of this software is having the ability to set-up, create and manage playlists too!
The included pink head phones may be cute and girly, but the hard non-conforming plastic around the ear piece may indeed present some problems by being very uncomfortable! Listening to music through these earphones was an unpleasant experience and the sound was very “tiny” and low. However, when I used a pair of personal ear buds, the sound was very impressive. I would compare the sound quality to that of an Apple Shuffle! Additionally, the plays back of voice recordings are sub-par at best (but then again, how many 7 to 14 year olds will probably be using this feature on this device?). However, the over-all idea in using this device is to have fun!!
Admittedly, I was impressed with the over-all quality of the Hello Kitty Digital MP3 Player, but was kind of curious why the manufacturer chose to use an actual AAA battery as oppose to an embedded rechargeable battery like most mp3 players have these days. I mean would it be easier for someone to carry around an extra battery when the player becomes low on juice or to simply plug it into a computer to recharge it? Also, would it hurt to include a better pair of headphones, perhaps, an assortment of girlie colored ear buds? Ear buds provide a longer listening experience and they’re very comfortable to wear! Lastly, I became somewhat concerned by the battery compartment easy access, and the manufacturer has addressed this concern by indicating a warning which is on the box that all loose parts on this device including the battery are a Choking Hazard. Hence subsequent care should be exercised not to leave this device around were younger children are present.
In spite of these minor mishaps, the pros outweigh the cons for the Hello Kitty Digital MP3 player. This mp3 player will make the girlish of girls and tom boys sing and dance and rejoice with sheer delight! I like the fact, that this device does not attempt to be an iPod and that it’s simplistic and easy to operate!
The Sakar Hello Kitty MP3 Player can be purchased at Target, Toys”R”Us and Wal*Mart for $39.00
Sturdy quality, straight forward navigation and operation controls, full fledged hard copy manual, 1 year warranty for parts and labor, good price point for 1GIG flash player, cool face plates, excellent sound quality for music, extremely light weight, intuitive media management music software, unit can also be used to manage files such as homework, and will make an excellent stocking stuffer or birthday gift.
Poorly made head phones (ear buds, anyone?), requires an AAA battery for operation (embed battery please and if a battery must be used, please include) and make ear buds in an assortment of fun colors besides pink.