'The personal CD player is dead, long live the personal CD/MP3 player', we cried when Dioneer's DCP-400 romped into the office one particularly balmy Monday afternoon. Now, having seen just about every MP3-playing portable on the planet we're not prone to such outspoken grandstanding, but given the 400's huge features list we thought a good overblown outburst was more than appropriate.
Dioneer, you see, hasn't just nicked someone else's design, stuck a flash badge on it and sat back to watch the profits fly in, oh no! With the sort of vision that Rio Ferdinand would kill several hatchet-faced Premiership forwards to possess, they've not only included MP3 compatibility in their disc-spinning beauty, they've also included support for that darling of the music industry, WMA. WMA allows similar quality to MP3 at half the bit-rate, so in layman's terms, you can fit twice the amount of music on a disc as you can with MP3. Considering each CD can hold up to 650MB of data, that equates to a over 300 tracks on one CD-R. Smart.
Among the myriad skills of the Dioneer is a particularly cunning method of remembering which track you were listening to when you last played a CD, so you can swap CDs and then put the original disc back in and listen from exactly where you left off. Witchcraft, I tell you.
Not content with multi-format capability, the chaps at Dioneer have also slotted in 'SRS WOW', a pseudo surround sound system that gives you the impression you've been hemmed in from all sides by a set of marauding, six foot tall speaker cabinets. Except without the obvious fear factor and high wood content.
Sonically, the in-ear phones do a masterful job of reproducing anything you lob their way, dealing with dance, hip-hop, or rock with equal aplomb. The in-line remote displays info on its backlight LCD display, including current track, EQ details and battery level.
The extra battery pack can be fitted with 2 x AA batteries, complementing the internal, rechargeable NiMH batteries and extending your music listening pleasure; plus you can listen to your Dioneer even if your recharger isn't handy.
When new audio formats such as AAC and MP3Pro come along there will be no reason to rue the day you shelled out for the 400, as the Dioneer has the distinct advantage of being firmware upgradeable, allowing it to play any future format at the drop of a hat.