Product Review (March 2003)
Bantam USA - BA350 MP3 Player
 

I can still remember my first portable CD player. It was state-of-the-art and weighed over a pound. The all metal case was very durable, but it lacked any anti-skip capability and it devoured batteries in no time. Times change and so have the latest trends in portable audio. Small MP3 players have now replaced the bulky CD players for several reasons. Size, weight, power and the absence of a mechanical playback system are just some of the reasons, but the ability to download audio files directly from a PC makes these devices even more attractive. These players have a simple and proven way to download data using a standard USB port.

Bantam USA has an impressive MP3 player called the BA350 that not only supports MP3, but WMA files as well. The unit measures only 3" x 2.1" x .6" and weighs only 2.25 oz. This MP3 player easily fits into even the smallest pocket and lasts for up to a full 12 hours on a single charge. The Lithium-Ion batteries are built into the unit and charges directly from the USB port. The player comes with 128MB of internal memory. An expansion port on the side of the unit accepts MMC cards up to 64MB. The BitExplor 2.2 software is easy to use with a simple GUI for dragging MP3 files to the BA350. Download time took several minutes, yet was straight forward and intuitive. I never had to read the manual.

The BA350 includes many accessories that are very practical. A set of headphones, neoprene case, USB cable, seven interchangeable faceplates and a cassette adapter for the car are part of the package. We used the cassette adapter during much of our testing and it worked out quite well. The case fits snug over the unit and protects it from everyday wear while exposing the headphone jack for simple access. We would have liked to have seen an AC adapter for the unit even though it does charge via the USB port. The LCD display was nice and the backlight worked well at night.

The fidelity of the unit was better than I thought it would be for such a tiny player. There were some issues that should be mentioned. The 4-way button on the unit didn't always respond well to my fingers, but this was primarily due to the size of the controls (small) and I found that careful usage of these buttons was necessary. There was also some low level clicking noises that could be heard between tracks. However, during the tests conducted in the car, this was not an issue due to the higher noise floor. This player would be ideal for active users, such as those working out at the gym or those on the go.

Bantam's BA350 is a wonderful unit that is well thought out and offers good sound quality for an amazingly small unit. The accessories included are very useful with the exception of the colored faceplates. I guess I'm too old to appreciate these. The built-in rechargeable batteries were a nice addition. Downloading the MP3 files directly into the unit from our PC using the BitExplor software was fast and simple. The size of this MP3 player is one of its best attributes.
- Kevin Nakano


Latest Updates to the BA350

Sharen McCabe at Bantam Interactive provided us with the following information.

- The upgrade allows the BA350 to be used as a removable drive. Files can be applied to the player simply by drag/drop, both music files for listening to on the BA350 as well as data files to transfer to another computer.

- Player can now be used as a Secure Digital card reader/writer.

- Customer can create their own digital EQ settings which can be named and saved.

- Includes 2 games, Black Jack and Matching.

- Compatible with Windows Medial Player, no software required.

- Last but not least, the new price is now $149.99 making it very competitive!

Review - At a glance
Bantam USA - BA350 MP3 Player

Features

  • Lightweight, credit card-size to take anywhere
  • Stores up to 4 hours CD quality sound with built-in memory, plus an expandable slot
  • Convert MP3 files to WMA on the fly, saving time and memory space
  • Built-in Li-Ion rechargeable battery lasts over 15 hours
  • 128 MB built-in memory
  • Charges while downloading files through USB port
  • 5-band digital EQ/DSP
  • Backlight display
  • Supports optional SD and MMC memory cards

    Accessories

  • Premium backwrap headphones
  • 7 interchangeable color faceplates
  • USB cable
  • Car cassette adapter
  • Neoprene carrying case with belt clip
  • Expandable MMC or SD memory slot

    System Requirements

  • Windows 98®, Windows 98 SE®, Windows ME®, Windows 2000®, and Windows XP®
  • IBM PC compatible machine with USB Port
  • Pentium MMX® 233MHz or higher
  • CD-ROM Drive
  • 64 MB minimum RAM
  • 10 MB free space minimum on hard drive

    BA350 Full Specification

    Company Information
    Bantam Interactive Technologies, Inc.
    916 N. 23rd Street
    St. Louis, Missouri 63106
    Phone: 314-802-0132
    Fax: 314-802-0133
    Website: http://www.bantamusa.com

    Source: Manufacturer Loan
    Price: $179.99
    Size: 3" x 2.1" x .6" / 71mm x 54mm x 16mm
    Weight: 2.25 oz / 64 g
    Warranty: 1 year

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