The folks from Shaghal Ltd. sent me one of their 4GB E-matic Video MP3 players. I’ve had fun playing with it for the last few days.
In a spark of genius that not even Apple has achieved yet, the E-matic comes preloaded with a video showing how to use it. You can see the video here:
It’s a multi-function device that tries to be everything. I’ll review each function on its own.
When compared to an iPod, the E-matic will never be able to compete. Apple has made adding music to an iPod so incredibly easy that everything else is clunky and difficult in comparison. When compared to other MP3 players, however, the E-matic is a perfectly functional device.
When plugged into a computer (I tried it on my Mac and my PC), it shows up like a USB thumb drive or an SD card. When you drop MP3s into the AUDIO folder, they are playable with the built-in MP3 player. Using Windows Media Player to try to add music onto the E-matic is definitely a mistake. It’s a much better idea to just add folders of music using Explorer (on the PC) or Finder (on the Mac).
Be warned that any music you have purchased with iTunes won’t work on the E-matic, even if it’s DRM-free. Apple wants you to use their MP3 players, you know.
I was able to get the video player to work with .3GP, .AVI and .MP4, but not .WMV files. I was able to download an episode of Dexter from Bit Torrent, put it on the E-matic and watch it within minutes, which is MUCH easier than trying to get .AVI files to work on my iPhone. Transferring files from the computer to the E-matic takes longer than it would to transfer the same sized file onto an SD card, but the playback (especially with the .AVI files) was clean and watchable. Here is a glimpse of what the episode of Dexter looked like on the E-matic:
With big files like that episode of Dexter, there is some choppiness and pauses. I found it quite distracting to watch, but if you have fifteen episodes of Sponge Bob on the E-matic for your kid to watch while you’re waiting in the grocery line, I doubt that will be an issue.
The screen is bigger than the iPod Nano and about as clear as long as you have a good file to begin with. That is one thing that Apple does a little better; they make sure that the videos you do put on your Nano or iPhone look as good as possible.
There is a feature that lets you record audio, such as notes to yourself or a quick interview of a friend, etc. This feature is limited by the small microphone. The audio clips are recorded in .AMR files, and show up in the AUDIO folder on the E-matic. Transferring them to your computer is as easy as drag and drop.
Here is an example of an audio recording using the E-matic:
The camera is 640 X 480 and the pictures are choppy at best. Here are some examples of photos I took with the E-matic.
These photos where taken under the BEST lighting possible and they are still a little pixelated. The camera is good enough to prove that you saw somebody who looked like Elvis, but not good enough to prove that Elvis is alive.
See the rest of the photos taken with the E-matic here:
The video camera records in 320 X 240. Not since my old Treo 650 have I had a video camera with this resolution. Here is a video that I took with the camera:
As you can see, this is good enough for kids or simple family shots outside in bright light, but if you try to film indoors, it will be too dark to see anything. The audio quality is also limited by the tiny microphone at the bottom of the unit.
See the other video taken with the E-matic here:
This isn’t an eBook reader so much as a way for you to read .TXT files. That’s great if you want to cheat in school using the E-matic. I’ve written in detail about that sort of thing here:
The directions for the E-matic are EXACTLY the same as what I wrote for the iPod, except you don’t need to enable the E-matic for disk use. That’s all ready for you to go.
This feature also might be good to store phone numbers, information, etc. that you might want to refer to. As far as reading a book using the E-matic, you could do it, but it would be an incredible pain in the butt because it doesn’t remember where you were last reading and you can’t resize the font for readability.
There is a tiny slot at the bottom of the E-matic labeled “TF Card.” I tried putting in a Micro SD card and it fit. It popped out at an incredible force, but aside from that it sleekly fit in the E-matic.
To use the Micro SD card, you need to go into the TOOL section and choose MEMORY. When you choose it as a WORKSPACE, then you can record audio, video and photos onto the Micro SD card. You can also watch videos or listen to MP3s that you have saved on it.
In this respect, the E-matic also works as a great card reader for Micro SD cards. When you plug it into the computer the Micro SD card shows up as a different drive and you can use the E-matic to transfer files to the SD card as easily as to the hard drive.
You can get Micro SD cards with as much memory as 16GB, so just the purchase of one Micro SD card can change your 4GB E-matic into a 20GB device. I love the expandability of the Micro SD card slot!
Is It Worth The Money?
The E-matic is available at Wal-Mart for $49 and available on Amazon for anywhere from $54 to $63. Is the E-matic worth it? Hell yeah.
If you need something to entertain the kids, but you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on an iPod, the E-matic is PERFECT. You’ll have to work a little harder to get the files on the device, but if your kid loses it, you’re out fifty bucks instead of hundreds.
It’s also a great device to teach kids how to shoot video and take photos. The limitations of the camera do make it a little more difficult to get a good shot, but that is a great way to teach them about proper lighting and setting up a shot.
If you’re expecting the E-matic to take the place of your normal camera, however, you will be sorely disappointed. The camera on your phone is probably as good as the camera in the E-matic, if not better.
On the whole, however, the E-matic is definitely worth the fifty bucks. It’s best for kids, but if you just want to snap a few photos to remember things and watch a couple of videos while you’re waiting at the DMV, it’s great for adults as well!