The Kube is looking to prey on the iPod shuffle and Archos Clipper’s territory, with a similarly dinky frame and space for a hell of a lot more tunes than its micro MP3 rivals. But does its bargain bucket price tag compromise performance?
Kube MP3 Player: Ease of use
The controls on the Kube are pretty self-explanatory. A pause/play button round the back, and skip forward and back buttons on either side. This is fine when you’re slipping through tracks or stopping and starting, but the fact that the skip keys double up as volume controls takes some getting used to. You need to hold down on the relevant button to turn the volume up or down, although this frequently led to us skipping back and forth through tracks by mistake. Shuffling tracks requires a hard push on the pause/play button. Easy enough, but not quite Apple’s ace shake to shuffle feature.
Kube MP3 Player: Features
While the Kube’s unique design makes it a touch uncomfortable to slip into your pocket, and the lack of built in clip lets it down, it does have one killer feature: expandable memory. A microSD slot means you can pump the Kube’s storage up to an iPod shuffle-bashing 32GB. And best of all, there’s a special USB key with microSD slot in the box, so adding tracks from your PC is child’s play. That said, the aforementioned lack of a clip is a problem. There’s one on the headphone cable, but it does mean that it’s not ideal for lengthy exercise sessions.
Kube MP3 Player: Music quality
For an MP3 player that costs around £15, quality is ample, if not astounding. The Holy Ghost album’s bassier notes sounded a touch flat, while Thurston Moore’s new acoustic LP sounded tinny rather than warm. This is exacerbated by the frankly woeful bundled buds, that make those that come with iPods look like top-end Sennheisers by comparison.
Kube MP3 Player: Verdict
At such a low price and with expandable memory, it’s difficult to argue against the Kube as a first time MP3 player. But up against the big time competition, it really doesn’t stack up. Controls are awkward and the boxy design means it’s a pain to carry around in your pocket. This is made worse by the fact there’s no clip. Chuck in average sound quality, and really the Kube’s price is the only thing left that truly stands out.
Kube MP3 Player: £15