Muzic Aera Review

potentially spiffy, but actually not


Broken

While looking for something to use my compgeeks.com ( review ) store credit on, I found the Muzic Aera device. It sounded like something I'd like, so I bought one. It's a keychain-sized USB storage device with mp3 player, voice recorder, and flashlight built in. I was mostly interested in it as a voice recorder and flashlight.

I received the unit on 2004-01-20, opened it and immediately tried it out. Unfortunately, all 4 functions were broken. I went through the usual debugging process to get more details, and here's what I found:

  • Broken: It does not respond to any buttons or switches on its case.
  • Broken: Status LEDs never light.
  • Broken: MP3 player does not work.
  • Broken: Voice recorder does not work.
  • Theory: Perhaps the lock/unlock switch is broken and stuck in "lock" mode.

  • Observation: It responds to USB, identifying itself as "066f:3410 SigmaTel, Inc. STMP3410 D-Major MP3 Player"
  • Observation: With a battery inserted, it responds to USB in both "USB" and "MP3/REC" modes.
  • Observation: With no battery, it responds to USB only in "USB" mode.
  • Deduction: The battery works.
  • Deduction: The USB -- MP3/REC switch works.
  • Broken: USB storage device mode does not work.
  • Theory: Device may require special drivers for its USB storage function. Included manual does not suggest this, however, and the back of the package says "No driver needed" for WinXP and MacOS 9+. If it does need drivers, that implies false advertising.

  • Broken: LED flashlight does not work.
  • False Advertising: Device does not have LED flashlight as advertised. The manual suggests this, but compgeeks advertised it as a LED flashlight.
  • Theory: The LED flashlight may really be a laser pointer. Or it may just be broken off.

  • Design flaw: The main body lanyard hole is located on the crack between case halves, making it useless.
  • Observation: The flashlight part does not fit in its hole, and that corner of the case does not snap completely shut.
  • Observation: The manual, if you could call it that, is written in very bad english.
  • Observation: The headphone jack is standard-sized, not miniature. This makes the included size adapter inappropriate.

  • Conclusion: All four advertised functions are broken.

Return

I've contacted compgeeks.com and requested a refund. I doubt I'd find store credit useful, as they keep sending me broken stuff and they don't even have anything I want in their catalog. Maybe I'll get some cash I can use somewhere else, if I'm lucky.

Update: (2004-02-07)
It's now 18 days later, and I haven't heard from the compgeeks Returns Dept, though I've contacted them twice. The "servigeek" who routes those requests said their Returns Dept is short-staffed and behind. I take this either to mean "piss off" or "half our orders are getting returned", and don't really expect resolution to this broken product.

Update: (2004-03-14)
I haven't heard a peep from the returns dept yet. That's what I call bad service.

Update: (2004-09-11)
I still haven't gotten any useful reply from compgeeks, and don't expect to. I've talked to a few other people who bought there, and am a bit confused about why they are happy. One guy bought a few hard drives and was happy because only one of the drives was bad. I would think he'd be unhappy if any of them didn't work, because he paid for it. If I wanted old, possibly-broken, hardware, I'd just go to the used parts store across town.

Last modified: January 11, 2005 @ 6:58 MST
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