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Unofficial Mambo-X P350 Jukebox Site

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Welcome to the Mambo-X Comparison Chart and Review

This page came about as a result of my desire to know how the new Mambo-X Jukebox Recorder stacked up against other competitors. I've been searching the entire web (oh.. maybe not everywhere, but at least I tried very hard) for a review and comparison without luck and figured I just do one myself. So, of course, some personal opinion involved. If you want to debate one unit over another, please find a public forum and speak there. Or if you bought a wrong unit and it is not my fault - don't bug me! Mark Berman 8/25/02

Jukebox Recorder Comparison Chart
Product Mambo-X P350 JB Recorder Apple iPod Archos JB Recorder Creative Normad JB3
Product Picture
URL Click Click Click Click
Price as 20GB $271 $499 $271 $399
Audio Format Playback MP3, WMA, WAV MP3 MP3 MP3, WMA, WAV
Audio Format Recording MP3 N/A MP3 MP3
HDD Capacity (based on user's report on web & manufacturer's spec) 6-40GB 5-20GB 6-40GB 6-20GB
Memory Size / Anti-shock 8MB/480sec 32MB/20minutes 2MB/120sec 8MB/480MB
Host Interface USB 1.1 i1394 USB 2.0 USB1.1 & i1394
Transfer Rate (based on reviews on web, not manuf. spec) 700kb/sec 255Mb/sec 11Mb/sec 500kb/sec
USB Driver No Driver required for Win2000 and up Mac Only (Windows to come, but not yet) Driver required for all OS Driver required for all OS
Battery Type Replaceable Li-ION battery, 1400mAh Built-in Li-Polymer battery, 1200mAh 4x AA Ni-MH Batteries Replaceable Li-ON battery, 1350mAh
Battery Life (based on reviews on web, not manuf. spec) 7 hrs 6 hrs 4 hrs N/A
Second Battery Bay Yes N/A N/A Yes
Built-in Microphone Yes N/A incomplete info N/A
FM Tuner N/A N/A N/A N/A
LCD Display 128x64 dot with blue backlight 160x128 dot with white backlight Incomplete info 132x64 dot with two color backlit
User Interface Display folder structure liked Windows Explorer;
Assemble playlist during playback (or not);
Dial scroller for cursor moving;
Random, Repeat1, Repeat Dir;
English user interface only but display English and Japanese ID3;

 
Play by playlist, artist and song title;
Touch sensitive scroll wheel for selection;
Random, Repeat1, Repeat All;
4 languages user interface with same ID3 support: English, Deutsch, French and Japanese;
incomplete info Play by playlist, artist, album and genre;
Scroller for selection & navigation;
Find button for easy search;
Repeat1, Repeat All, Random play;
9 languages support - English, Brazilian, Portuguese, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, German & Japanese
AC adapter 100-220V Use your Mac's i1394 port 100-220V 100-220V
Remote control option option N/A N/A
Dimension (inch) 5.1x3.6x1 4x2.4x0.8 4.5x3.2x1.3 5.5x5x1.5
Weight  (ounce) 9.8 6.5 12 14
Included earbud headphones, AC adpater, USB cable, stereo cable (for recording from other audio source), carrying pouch, MusicMatch earbud headphones, i1394 cable, iTune CD earbud headphones, AC adapter, USB cable, Software CD, 4x NiMH batteries earbud headphones, AC adapter, USB cable, Software CD, carrying pouch
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My Review of Mambo-X P350 JB Recorder

Everything starts with my wanting to buy a portable jukebox recorder for my new school year ( I am a part time graduate student in MBA ). Overall, $300 price tag (that is normally most of JB recorder cost today) is a big investment for me. I've outlined my priority for features and started a chart for decision support.

My most wanted features in priority:

  1. A multi-format jukebox that will hold my entire MP3 library. I have about almost 1200 songs so far that spend many sleepless nites to collect. The reason a multi-format JB (MP3 & WMA) is to ensure my investment for the future in case WMA comes out the list.
  2. A MP3 recorder. I wanna be able to record a concert when it is needed or FM.
  3. Portable USB HDD. Everyone in school probably need one. The key issue is that the JB has to be driverless.
  4. Easy song searching and playlist compiling. My entire music library is 1200 songs and still growing. Having a lousy GUI will kill me. Transferring MP3 to portable device is easy, so I don't wanna waste time through complex menus just to put new tunes on my device.
  5. Battery life. It seems most of the JB isn't a power savvy but at least 4 hours minimum. One with extra battery pack the better.
  6. Size. We are talking portable, aren't we? I saw one of my friend has a Neo JB that is almost the size of my Algebra book back in my freshman year. (that is the biggest text book I've seen in my life)
  7. $300 price tag. That is how much I can afford right now.

Comparison Chart:

I tried to include as much detail as I could find, and that turned out to be a hefty job. I've even borrowed an Apple iPod 5GB, a Creative Normad JB from friends before I started this chart. Few more details been added after I bought the Mambo-X. I've outlined four models of JB MP3 in the chart. However, other models such as Rio Riot, Neo JB, and Personal Jukebox were in my prelim list but got kick out for reasons after my initial scan.

My first look at Mambo-X JB Recorder

At the first glance, the new Mambo-X I've got doesn't look as sexy as I expected. True, it may not be as slick-looking or compact as Apple's iPod (or who else can be) but it is compact enough to fit into my palm and all the buttons are nicely layout to operate by one hand. The scroller wheel and two function keys make a more user friend interface than other JB I have seen before. The only glitch maybe it was not designed for left handed person.

   

Connection. I've been never a "Read-the-manual-first" type of user. Right out of the box, my Win2000 PC pick up the Mambo-X as a removeable HDD without asking for any driver. It amazed me a lot. At least it was a good start. The USB 1.1 is a bit slow, it took me almost an hour and half to transfer all my 1200 songs (est. 4.5GB) - the problem for all Windows-based jukeboxes has been that they all connected via USB, which is too slow for mass data transfer. But, in my opinion, how often a user transfer his/her entire music library at once? Baring with a slow USB 1.1 device makes more sense for i1394 or USB 2.0. Plus, it will burn a bigger hole in my pocket if I have to buy a i1394/USB2.0 card for upgrade.

Sound Quality. The headphones are cheap. I didn't even bother to untie the wire. I used my old Sony's instead. Soundwise, the Mambo-X is excellent. It comes with 5 EQ presets and 1 user programmable EQ setting - my favorite part of the machine. Liked the old home stereo equalizer, I can adjust each of the 5 bands for my joy. Left and right channel is also adjustable.

MP3 Recorder. I discovered the voice recording function comes into handy. The built-in microphone can record voice in MP3 format for two different qualities: 64kbps or 160kbps. Recording sound quality is good but sometimes the mic picks up hard disk noise in the background when the environment is quiet making it a little bit annoying. I've tried to record one of my lecture for 2 hours and email it straight to one of my classmates - kind of nice. Using the analog line-in for FM recording performs a very nice result. In other words, with the right accoutrements, you can easily turn old records, TV programs and concert recordings into MP3s. I do wish that there were a way to modify the ID3 TAG during or after the recording (in this case, you have to do it with your PC), but still, this is a great function.

Operations. The user interface is simple but make perfectly sense for me. It displays the entire folder structure that created by me using the computer. Use the scroller wheel to move the cursor around, press to enter a folder or make selection. The only thing you have to make sure is that you need to organize your MP3 library by folder. I've found it is very useful for me comparing to the Apple's iPod and Normad JB, because lots of MP3 I have are ID3-missing. I've tried to upload those music to iPod and found that it is almost impossible to find them because they all show up as unknown artist or title. During playback, press the scroller wheel will bring you back to the folder structure interface, that allows you to search another song - I found it is impossible to do for both iPod and Normad.

Playlist. There are two ways to assemble a playlist, by press the "T-Mark" button during playback or assemble them during the file navigation. According to the manual, (after all, I read them because of this review) there are total of 999 playlists available. Playlist is named in number, I wish that I can rename the playlist without using computer.

Battery. I've tried to measure the battery life, the only thing I can say so far is that it last more than 6 hours but shorter than 9 hours. I've tried to do a continuous play twice, but I all fall into sleep. I will try to do it again and post the result here later. It take approximately 3 hours to full charge the included Li-ION battery, and it can recharge during operation. According to their website, an optional battery box is avail for $49 - it will be a good option to have except the price.

JPEG. This Mambo-X has a Feature Expansion Port located in the corner of lower right that supposes to connect with a JPEG box for digital photo display onto TV. I didn't bother to buy this optional item simply because I don't own any digital camera at this moment. I like the idea of using TV instead of having an expansion built-in TFT LCD liked Archos MMJB. It makes no sense to use that tiny LCD for picture viewing anyway. 

It is a good JB recorder and match what I have in my mind. For $270 price tag, the cheapest I can find on web, it should worth a while :)

MP3 Exchange

If anyone would like to exchange for MP3 collection, please email me.

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