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Gadget Review

Duo-DX from Digisette

By Kailas Narendran
COLUMNIST

In recent years, the majority of the general population has become dependent on computers for a wide range of their audio and visual entertainment needs. Computers are great. However, as they don’t fit very well into the tape deck slot of one’s dashboard or into one’s pocket.

The Duo-DX from Digisette is an innovative device that helps bridge the technological transition for those that missed the entire CD revolution. Imagine a digital cassette tape, and you have the Duo-DX. It is an MP3/WMA player incarnated in the form and interface of a regular cassette tape. In addition to talking to a tape deck, you can also use it as a stand-alone MP3/WMA player via the headphone jack. The device uses a detachable USB cable to connect to your computer for quick and easy file transfer.

Several models of Duo available

There are multiple models of the Duo player, the DX having 96 Megabytes of on-board memory, with memory expansion slot that lets you hold up to 160 Megabytes.

Another unique feature of the Duo player is that it allows you to record analog audio via the tape deck interface, or via the built in microphone. Unlike a standard audio tape, you can skip songs using the fast forward control of your tape deck, a very nice feature. The device comes with rechargeable batteries that provide about five hours of music playback.

Player interface user-friendly

I liked the fact that the software and interface of this device are very clean and easy to use. However, you do have to breeze over the manual to figure out exactly how to interpret the flashes from the single LED on the player. The player comes with a nice carrying case with a belt clip built into it. The headphones are marginal ear buds, so I would suggest you find your own.

The 96-megabyte capacity of the Duo-DX (without expansion) is pretty good. It equates to roughly an hour and a half of high quality MP3s. While that is a good size for the daily commute, the capacity is a bit short for longer hauls like weekend ski trips to New Hampshire.

Drawbacks of Duo player

While this device is very unique, it really only fills a niche market. If you want a stand-alone MP3/WMA player, this device is a bit larger and possibly pricier than comparable units. In addition, it has no display to tell you what song you’re listening too (not that I ever found that very useful). The benefit appears when you are stuck with a tape deck, which is probably in your car. Until now, the only option was to use the tape deck adapter that changes the interface of your tape deck to a headphone jack. As simple as that solution is, the sound quality is really bad because of the long, unshielded cable carrying low level signals. In addition, I always found it a pain to deal with all the wires, adapters, and junk that accompanies such a setup, so the Duo would come in handy.

Another drawback for this product is the $200 price tag. As neat as it is, you might be better off just springing for a cheap MP3/WMA compatible CD player for your car (if that's all you want it for). If you need both a portable MP3/WMA player and something that can play your music in your car’s tape deck, this might be the device for you. You can find out more at http://www.digisette.com.