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Gadget Review

Jensen MP3510 In Dash MP3/CD/Receiver

By Kailas Narendran
COLUMNIST

The MP3510 from Jensen provides a low-cost MP3 solution for your car. For about $150 (the lowest price I found online), you can upgrade your car to the digital age, allowing it to both play CDs and MP3s that you burn onto a CD-R/RW from your computer. Even with the pitiful roads around Cambridge and Boston, this device has almost never skipped.

The device is an easy install and plays MP3 CDs pretty well, but has some quirks (discussed later). The radio reception is slightly better than piss poor in the city, but becomes tolerable on the highway and in rural areas. The sound quality is good, with 180 watts easily filling a sedan with a rich spectrum of sound. The faceplate comes off the unit for when you park overnight in Cambridge, and provides lots of gratuitous flashing lights to keep your eyes off the road when you’re driving and grooving to your tunes.

Receiver, but I...

I’m not sure why the radio reception on this device is so bad. I think I got better reception through long wires in my 6.302 labs! Until installing this device, I thought the world had solved the FM receiver problem. Why this device can play MP3s, but not receive WBCN, is beyond me.

The seek functionality is useless in this unit. Seek stops at every decimal point, thereby rendering it completely useless. When you get out to areas that have fewer radio stations you can actually seek from one to another, but that’s only useful if you live in BFE, not Boston.

Lots of music

One could argue that the crappy radio reception doesn’t matter since you do get about eight or more hours of music on one MP3 CD. I’d have to say that I agree, since I don’t really care for the 50/50 music and advertisement split on commercial radio.

While songs play, the faceplate displays the ID3 information such as song title and artist. The display is easy to read, but you can’t see the song name until it actually starts playing, making searching for a song really tedious.

In addition, the interface on the player, a button for forward and backwards, isn’t the best for seeking through almost two hundred songs you can fit on a CD.

Either way, for a long haul, this unit holds its own with a continuous, repeat-free block of music.

Quirkapalooza

There are quite a few quirky states this thing can fall into, where it fails to work without some finessing. I never had it absolutely stop working, but I had to eject and reinsert the CD on numerous occasions when it’d get stuck on a song here and there.

I wasted a couple of CDs when I first got the receiver, by burning through Windows XP. Though after using Nero, another CD-writing application that is a lot stricter about ISO9660 standards, the receiver worked fine.

Though the faceplate is bright and easy to read after it warms up, when you start using it on a cold morning the display is very blurry.

$.02

This MP3 Receiver is a good, low cost, solution for someone on a tight budget who wants convenient MP3 capabilities in their car. Even though the radio reception sucks in the city, its capacity to play MP3 CDs makes up for it.

You can find this player for as low as $150 on the Internet. For more information, check out http://www.jensen.com.