Not sure which MP3 Player to get? Check out our handy comparison guide.
When it comes to MP3 players, you've got two choices. Either you go for a teeny little player with limited memory, or you plump for a roomy hard drive-based fella that'll store all the music you'll ever own, but will also suck all the money you've ever owned from your bank account. It's a dilemma, but one that's about to be taken away thanks to the X-Clef's breathtakingly reasonable price of Â£229.95. For that you get yourself a voluminous 20GB of storage space for WMAs or MP3s and a player that, while not as pocketable as our Mini-K player, can be dropped into all but the most modest of fabric receptacles without inducing a dangerous, seam-threatening bulge.
It's all very well quoting gigabytes and bit-rates, but you're probably wondering just how much music you can shoehorn onto your X-Clef, aren't you? Well, by our calculations, 20GB should translate into a mammoth 5000+ tracks, or around 350 hours of continuous music, that's assuming you've encoded your music at 128Kbps, which is fairly standard these days. That's approximately one weeks worth of tuneage, about a third of which you won't hear because you'll be grabbing some shut-eye.
Even if you did manage to listen to all your onboard music, the built-in FM tuner means that you will never run out of new songs. FM recording allows you to add to your onboard collection with ease and MP3 voice recording lets you capture your flashes of brilliant insight for all eternity.
Battery life is very impressive, weighing in at 12 hours of continuous playback. Compare that to Apple's iPod and its relatively paltry 8 hours, and you start to see what a gem the X-Clef really is. That's without mentioning its heavenly musicality, easily the equal of the Creatives and Apples of this world and the battleship-sinking array of extra features it boasts. There's an FM tuner, a voice recorder, direct encoding from any audio source (so no need for a PC), and a blindingly quick USB 2.0 interface. Amazingly the X-Clef is even Mac compatible, which just goes to show what a barefaced lie the phrase, "you can't have everything" is.
It's no word of a lie to say that the Firebox team have been pretty much blown away by the X-Clef's combination of high spec and low, low price and we've seen virtually every portable MP3 player and Personal Jukebox going, so that's saying something. At this price, you won't find a higher specced hard drive player, and certainly not one with the raft of extras the X-Clef features. Say goodbye to your friends, relatives, girlfriend, and job and immerse yourself in a fortnight of musical abandon. You don't even get that at GlastonburyÂ…