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Cheap isn’t always worth it

With no audio conversion needed, the Zebmate is as simple as they come.

tech reviews Updated: Jun 01, 2010 15:00 IST
Shayne Rana

The market’s been dry off late in the portable media devices slot. That’s probably because of the surge of Java mobile handsets that offer integrated multimedia in the same price range as an iPod or a Cowon player. The Zebronics Zebmate 10 has been designed for those who want to keep their media separate from their phone.

Form
The Zebmate 10 is a portable device that follows the iPod Shuffle’s clip style design. The design allows you to clip it anywhere while you’re listening to your tunes. It’s ultra portable at 12.5 g.

It has a 3.5 mm slot on the same side as the power switch and shuffle and repeat switcher. A mini USB port for PC connectivity and charging the device is also included. The bundled earphones are comfortable but the outer plastic coating is painful after an hour inside your ears.

Performance
The Zebmate is a simple player that requires no audio conversion or transfer software of any kind to send files to the drive. Drag and drop your mp3s or WMA Files and you’re good to go.

Audio quality is just average and the fact that it’s so basic and lacks any adjustable settings fails to impress. The higher tones are a wee bit on the sharper end and there’s a substantial lack of bass. The player offers a mediocre audio experience.
Peaking the volume doesn’t help as the sharp tones will become cumbersome after a while and would also produce
a scratching sound from the speakers.

Battery
Charging the device takes about an hour. The Zebmate 10 can dish out 9 hours and 50 minutes of non-stop playback, which isn’t bad at all.

What we like
* Simple and easy to manage design
* Decent battery life

What we don’t
* Audio quality isn’t that good
* Peaked volume hits the earphones

For more reviews and features visit www.tech2.com

Verdict
The Zebmate 10 carries a price tag of Rs 1,200 for the 2 GB model and Rs 1,600 for 4 GB. It may seem like you’re getting a good deal considering the price but don’t let that be the decision maker for you. There are other options which might require you to shell out a bit more, like the Samsung-YP-S2QB or the Cowon E2 but that would also include higher audio quality and a better battery life. That should be one of the main features to consider before buying a basic MP3 player.