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Transcend T.Sonic 850
I'm not just a reviewer but a consumer as well, and my understanding is that a PMP has to provide four major functions: clear video playback, loud AND clear sound quality, an FM radio with decent enough reception during commutes (that is, with minimal static) and at least 12 hours of nonstop music or the capability to watch a full-length movie and a little more.
There are plenty of PMPs that meet these parameters, but the T.Sonic 820 didn’t fare as well as we thought. But let me give you my take on this device and show you how well it matches up with my simple benchmarks.
The T.Sonic 850 is a neat-looking player. It has a 1.8 inch TFT display with a 176 x 220 pixel resolution. For navigation the player has a large five-way nav-pad below the display. On one side is a dedicated Record key for activating the in-built voice recorder or to activate the FM radio recording. Below that is a return key to that will take you back to the main menu, or if pressed opens up the track list. On the other side is a Hold switch to lock the keys.
The T.Sonic 850 supports USB 2.0 connectivity via a standard mini USB port located at the bottom of the player. The 3.5mm earphone socket is located right beside the USB port. Transcend has been kind enough to provide a plastic casing for the player that covers it neatly. The storage capacity of this model is 4GB.
Features and Performance
The music player interface is quite catchy, but we’re not here to discuss looks. Although the playback output hits a decently high decibel level, the overall sound quality is just about okay. The bundled earphones are fine but tend to start jarring a bit on peak volume, so I’d recommend you use your own. The device does help compensate with the help of 7 EQ presets and a customizable setting as well.
The bass line won’t give you too much thump but it's decent enough to get you tapping your feet a bit. The highs are rather bright, but not too much to be a disturbance, and they can be controlled in the manual EQ setting. Unfortunately you will have to go all the way out of the music player, through the main menu and into the Settings to make any changes. I hate that.
On the whole the overall sound quality of the T.Sonic 850 is not too bad. It reads MP3, WMA, WMA-DRM10 (subscription music) and WAV music file formats, so you can pretty much copy-paste your files and start a-playin’.
The audio player also allows for Karaoke-style synchronized lyrics display, but your tracks need to be encoded that way.
The screen is a tad small to watch a full length movie without getting an eye strain but video clips or music videos are fine. Video files will need to be customized and converted to .MTV format for playback. The software is provided and can be downloaded from Transcend's website. I tried downloading the file but it kept giving me an error saying the file is either invalid or corrupt. Go figure.
Conversion unfortunately will require a lot of patience as it takes very long, but the reproduction isn’t too bad. What I really liked is the fact that the video player will remember where you left off and resume playback from that point.
FM Radio and Voice recorder
The T.Sonic 850’s internal FM radio confuses me. It takes only a few minutes to store and preset channels, but it does this in real-time. There doesn’t seem to be any option to locate and play specific channels of your choice or auto-tune. You’ll have to just keep the direction keys on the nav-pad pressed and it will scan to the nearest possible point where it receives the best reception. Or so I thought.
It took me a while before I realized that pressing the Record key once showed me the channel presets. But since the radio also has a recording feature (for which you’ll have to keep the same button pressed for a couple of seconds) you’ll have to master the art of the quick touch. It can store up to 20 presets.
The voice recorder uses VAD (Voice Activity Detection) that makes quite a difference. It’s clear and easy to distinguish voices. In fact, I tested it in one area and it managed to easily pick up voices from another room. Mind you, my brother’s voice is anything but subtle, but it was easily recognizable on playback and so was the dialog. Naturally, my own voice sounded pretty good too. You can adjust the playback speed from the settings menu, so no problem here.
JPEGs and BMP files can be viewed though the Photo Viewer feature. The quality isn’t fantastic considering the resolution, but they’re not bad at all. You can set the images to appear in a slideshow and adjust the interval between slides to your preference.
The 850 comes with an e-Book reader. Just convert all your files to .TXT format and copy-paste them into the appropriate folder. Viewing these files on the player is a bit tricky because the background is black with white text, so give yourself a few seconds to adjust to it.
Transcend also provides users with a utility software that protects your files on your PC or on the player. You can partition a certain portion of the player's 4GB drive for private files that can only be accessed via the PC through the password-protected application.
The T.Sonic 850 uses an internal rechargeable Lithium-ion battery that provides about 9 hours of nonstop music playback, which is well below par. You’ll be able to watch nothing more than an hour and a half of video. The company claims up to 22 hours of music playback, so in this context it grossly underperforms.
The T.Sonic 850 has a lot of features, but when it comes to some critical parameters, it barely delivers. Copying files is a cinch, what with the fast USB 2.0 transfer. The 4GB of space gives plenty of room for your music, images and a couple of videos as well. At Rs 4000 for the 4GB model (available in Onyx Black and Ivory White) it’s not a bad deal. But there are other options, so look carefully before you buy.