Music is a great way to kill boredom while you’re on a long journey or sitting at home doing nothing. Some prefer listening to music while working or in the kitchen. The most convenient source for music listening is the cellphone. Nowadays, even the most basic models have multimedia functions such as FM radio, MP3 player and memory expansion via microSD card. But, you have to compromise on battery life and the quality of the speakers isn’t quite up to the mark. If you don’t mind carrying an extra device that irons out these issues, you might want to consider this portable music player by Portronics called Soundbox.
This device is slightly larger than an average candybar phone, but twice as thick, which still makes it quite compact and portable. For its size, the feature set that it offers is quite impressive. It can play songs in MP3 and WMA audio formats directly from microSD memory card and USB flash drives.
The memory card slot and USB port are located at the bottom along with a mini USB port and a 3.5 mm audio jack. The mini USB port serves only as power input for charging the li-ion battery via the PC’s USB port and not as mass storage interface which would have been useful for transferring songs to the memory card. The li-ion battery is Nokia BL-5C type which is easily available should it need to be replaced. The Soundbox uses two 35 mm neodymium drivers for playback.
Ergonomics and user interface
The Soundbox sports a 3 cm mono LCD display which is divided into two sections. The top portion with yellow backlight is a sort of a status bar which displays the equalizer mode, bit rate, current source and battery level. The lower portion with Blue backlight displays the artist and song title, playback time and visualization. The controls lie on top, which comprises of four buttons. The first two buttons are for previous and next track and when long-pressed they serve as volume control – you cannot fast forward and rewind songs. Next is the Menu buttons, which lists functions for the current mode. For example, repeat mode, EQ settings and lyrics for music playback and FM record and auto-scan for FM radio.
Easily accessible buttons
When long-pressed, the Menu button allows selecting from Soundbox’s main functions – Calendar, Music, FM radio and Settings. Menu navigation is easy but the UI is very sluggish requiring the user to be patient especially while navigating the songs when there are hundreds of files and folders.
Portronics Soundbox is available in three colours – apart from the Stone Blue piece that we got our hands on, it’s available in Active Orange and Crystal Purple. The build quality is not exceptional, but quite good. The finish is nice and the shell is very sturdy. What we didn’t like is the glossy shell, which gets stained too easily.
The sound quality of the speakers outweighs all the drawbacks of this device. We underestimated the output of the two tiny neodymium drivers, but we were taken back when we started playing songs. The lows and mids are excellent, but the highs could be a lot better. The overall quality is very good and the sound doesn’t distort even at full volume.
A simple and neat design
For Rs.1,799 (MRP) the Portronics Soundbox is an excellent option as a portable music player. The sound quality is awesome and so is the list of things it can do. Apart from its niggles, it would have been nice if the Soundbox had the voice recorder function and came bundled with a good pair of earphones and at least a 2 GB memory card.
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