So it finally arrived, one of the first Ogg/Vorbis CD players in Europe for only 99EUR. Or so I thought.
The Roadstar PCD-6520SWMPT is advertised for playing Audio-CDs, MP3, WMA and Ogg. It seems to be a very early release of the player since it shows all signs of a beta product.
The product looks pretty complete out of the box. It can play CDs and SD/MMC memory cards, a power supply and ear phones are included. It sports 120 seconds anti-shock buffering for MP3 and 50 seconds for audio CD. It has a bass booster, volume control via buttons on the right side and can hop through all the songs on a CD or memory card - unfortunately it doesn't expose the directory structure.
The player is able to charge the batteries and to record songs from the CD or from a line in jack to the memory card (in MP3 format).
There is however no batteries or a memory card included.
It plays normal Audio CDs quite fine. MP3 does also well, though I did not try WMA (for lack of a source of them), but Ogg is a very sad story: it doesn't play at all, neither older files (encoded with a vorbis beta), nor newer ones (encoded with a current stable version).
So the manual is quite correct of not mentioning the ogg format, but one does wonder why the Xiphophorus-fish-logo is so prominent on the box if it isn't supported.
The tolerances of the casing are very small, so it can happen that some CDs scratch the case on the side while spinning. Two more millimeters on each side would have done the trick.
The bass booster overamplifies - you have to turn the volume far below 50% to make it sound good with active bass booster. A more dynamic final amplifier would add lots to the experience. However, without bass booster the sound quality is good for a device of this class.
The device has great difficulties with CD-Roms. According to the manual it can handle CD-RW and "might have problems with a few CD-Rs", but what I found does not live up to that. It reads only some CD-Rs and those only quite randomly, which means often it doesn't even detect all the songs and skips over about 50% of the songs because it is unable to read them off the CD-R. Maybe a drive, that does support more than CDDA only would be good for the next revision.
The buttons follow the standard design of today, but they could be a bit more distinguishable for the touch - eg. the button shape could be a symbol of what the button does instead of simply being circular - it would add lots of ease when handling the device blindly, for example while jogging or reading.
The products basic ideas are great. Especially the idea to combine CD-player and memory port in the same device is outstandingly good. It is however very sad that it doesn't live up to its promises.
The device shows all signs of being released much too early, but it gives hopes for the next revision. Unfortunately I cannot recommend buying it right now - unless you want to use it only to transfer Audio-CDs to SD/MMC and play only Audio-CDs and MP3s from the memory card.