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Review: Kingston's Media Player

Given the choice, I am a proponent of the "Swiss Army knife" philosophy of electronic devices. My ideal carry-along is a small, lightweight digital device that will play my music, show my latest photos, offer a quick video, let me read the latest novel, and make me a cup of coffee. The Kingston K-PEX 100 Portable Media Player isn't quite there, but it comes close enough.

Click image to enlarge.

The K-PEX is an impressively small and lightweight media player that plays MP3 files and video files. It also acts as a voice recorder, includes an FM radio, exhibits photos, and can accept files from USB flash drives. The device comes in 1GB and 2GB models;, it also comes with a slot for a miniSD expansion slot for additional storage.

The design of the K-PEX is interesting, but takes a while to get used to. On the left side of the 2-inch color LCD display is, from top to bottom, a button that serves for both Menu and Game Exit; four cursor keys (up, down, left, right), and the Power button. On the right side of the display is a Select button, a Power button, a power light, and a Play button. There are other buttons on the top edge of the device -- Mode, Repeat, and Record -- and on the bottom -- a Lock button (to keep it from accidentally going on when it's bouncing around in your backpack) and Volume buttons (which I never used, since the cursor keys can be used for the same thing).

Despite their labels, some of the buttons offer a variety of functions, depending on what you're doing. For example, the Play button also operates as a Pause button, and when you're in, say, the Music mode, you can access your file menu by hitting the Esc key. In fact, I often found myself pressing several buttons in a search for the right one to use; I have to assume that if I used this continually for a couple of weeks, eventually I would learn the right sequences.

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