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Apex Digital E2go MP-2000 Portable Media Player and DVR
Posted April 4, 2005 by Carson Friday

Editor's rating (1-5):
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The MP-2000 is Apex Digital's first foray into the portable media player market. Apex Digital is best known for its line of budget priced DVD players and televisions. Apex Digital was founded in 1999 and is a relatively new consumer electronics company, but their extremely aggressive pricing on DVD players, not to mention "hackability", helped them penetrate the market at a rapid rate and has made them a well known name. The MP-2000 is priced competitively and has a full array of multimedia functions, including not only video and audio playback, but real time recording of audio and video as well. The MP-2000 uses a 20GB hard drive for storage which is capable of storing a reasonable sized library of photos as well as audio and video files.

Apex E2go MP-2000 media player

First Impressions

The packaging for the MP-2000 is attractive and well designed. The unit had a small triangle shaped sticker affixed to the lower right corner of the screen, heralding the device's features. Unfortunately, while trying to [very gently] remove the sticker, the glue portion tore off and left a sticky mess on the screen. A little bit of alcohol and a cotton swab cleaned it right up.

The user interface looks slightly antiquated, but is straightforward and easy to navigate. First impressions of the 3.5" 320 x 240 pixel TFT screen were not so favorable, as the thin black lines that surround each pixel were quite visible when held closely. This is often known as the "screen door" effect. Once the MP-2000 is held at a reasonable distance, the effect disappears, and with motion on the screen, it becomes barely noticeable. It seems that the device is not meant to be viewed up close, such as a distance of only 6 inches away. It is best viewed at about half an arm length away.

back of Apex portable media player

In the Box

The MP-2000 ships with a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery as well as a generous collection of connectors and accessories. Included are A/V cables for input and output, AC power adapter, leatherette case, USB cable, headphones, lanyard, recovery image/driver CD, and printed user manual.

Supported Formats

Audio: MP3, WMA(no DRM), LPCM, ADPCM
Photo: JPEG, GIF, BMP, TIF
Video: MP4, DIVX(3,4,5), Motion JPEG, Windows Media 9 (only certain WM9 encodings supported though)

Design and Ergonomics

The MP-2000 is very compact and has a very solid feel. The rechargeable battery slides into the bottom right side of the unit, which is rounded in order to make the device easy to grasp. The primary controls are located on the front of the unit, and navigation is very straightforward. There is a small joystick for navigation as well as a play/enter and stop/exit button. The joystick clicks when it is depressed, although it does not appear to serve any function.

 

 

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Connectivity

The left side of the MP-2000 sports several connectors: AV in, AV out, Headphones, Mini USB 2.0 high speed, and Power. The supplied AV input cable allows you to record from any AV source with the proper connections. Note that the E2go can't record copy protected movies such as commercial DVDs and you'll see an on-screen message warning you of this if you attempt to record copy protected media.

USB connectivity is a snap, as Windows 2000/XP will automatically detect and configure the MP-2000 as a USB mass storage device that can be accessed via windows explorer. File transfer speeds using a Windows XP desktop with USB 2.0 ports were very fast and the Apex beat several of its USB 2.0 competitors. Transferring files to the device is also quite easy; all that is necessary is to transfer the file type to its respective folder. Video files go in the "video" folder, music files go into the "audio" folder, and photos go into the "photos" folder. These folders are pre-populated on the MP-2000 at the factory and there are even some included demo files for each category.

Side view of Apex E2go

Video Playback

The MP-2000 supports a variety of video formats:
-MP4 Video
-WMV9 Standard Definition files only (using the SP@ML coding standard)
-DIVX 3, 4, and 5. More specifically, the formats that the MP-2000 supports are:
DivX 4.x, 5.x Video: D1 (720 x 480) up to 30fps
DivX 3.11 Video: CIF (352 x 288) up to 30fps
Audio: up to 32/44.1KHz, up to 128Kbps
As long as the video files conform

To test the manufacturer’s claims, several different files were tested, with the following results:

File Encoding

Supported?

Test Result

DIVX5 720x480 56kb/s audio

YES

Excellent playback quality

DIVX5 640x464 128 kb/s audio

YES

Excellent playback quality

DIVX5 640x360 128kb/s audio

YES

Excellent playback quality

DIVX3 320x240 47kb/s audio

YES

Excellent playback quality

DIVX3 320x240 64kb/s audio

YES

Excellent playback quality

DIVX3 512x384 128kb/s audio

NO

Played, but extreme artifacting made it unwatchable

WMV2 720x300 128kb/s audio

NO

Would not play

MWV2 240x92 16kb/s audio

YES

Would not play

XVID 320x240 64kb/s audio

NO

Would not play

XVID 624x352 157kb/s audio

NO

Excellent playback quality

Overall, as long as the file formats are within the range of accepted resolutions and video codecs, playback was flawless. Having a good DIVX encoder will definitely come in handy with the MP-2000, as it does not support MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 files, which will need to be re-coded to DIVX in order to play on the MP-2000.

With the included AV cable, the audio and video can be output to an external source such as a television and/or audio receiver. The MP-2000 cannot playback on both the internal and external displays at once and it doesn't automatically sense the external connection, so you must change the settings on the Apex to enable the external display. Image quality on a larger display (42" plasma TV) during playback of a high quality divx file is very good, considering the output type is composite video. Ultimately, the playback quality will depend on the type of file and the quality at which it was encoded as well as the quality of the external display.

Audio Playback

Music playback sounded good and the MP-2000 was able to handle both high and variable bit rate audio files with ease. The built-in speaker has decent tone and volume. The included headphones are basic and sound fine, but most folks will likely want to use their own headphones anyway. The interface for playing music includes standard functions like shuffle and repeat, as well as an equalizer with several built in presets.

Photo Viewing

Photo playback works well and the MP-2000 will automatically resize photos to fit the 320x240 LCD screen. It has no problem displaying 3 megapixel images, and the navigation stick allows for easy navigation through photos in a folder. Pressing up or down on the navigation stick moves through pictures in the directory and pressing right will rotate the image 90 degrees. One feature that the photo viewer lacks is a zoom facility, so there is no way to zoom and pan while viewing photos.

Recording Audio and Video: Pocket Digital Video Recorder in your Pocket

The MP-2000 not only supports audio and video playback, but recording as well. The unit is equipped with a microphone for taking voice memos, and it also has a dedicated AV/in jack. The included AV cable allows for hookup to a composite video and stereo audio source. There is a dedicated "Record" button atop the unit that is used to start recording while in AV and voice record mode. Files are encoded using MPEG4 and can be played back on a computer with the proper codec installed. As noted, you can't record copy protected media such as commercial DVDs.

Battery Life

Apex claims that the MP-2000 will play video for up to 3.5 hours, audio (with the LCD off) for 7.5 hours, and photo viewing for 3.5 hours. While playing DIVX video files, playback ran for 3.8 straight hours. It's always nice to see devices outperform the manufacturer's claims during real-world tests! It would be safe to assume that the MP-2000 could get through two average length movies before the battery goes dead. The device should last over 8 hours when used as an MP3 player. That said, some of its competitors last much longer on a charge for video and music playback.

Although not configured by default, the MP-2000 can be configured to turn off the screen after a preset amount of time. This timeout value affects all functions including the menus, but is disabled during photo and video playback, so that the screen doesn't go blank while watching a movie or viewing photos. Setting the timeout value can help increase battery life on the MP-2000.

Conclusion

The MP-2000 is a good low cost portable media player. The unit feels solid and well built, and supports video and audio playback as well as recording. I really enjoyed putting the MP-2000 through a wide battery of tests, and it fared quite well. The 3.5" screen was comfortable for watching movies for extended periods of time, and the photo slideshow feature is a great way to show off the device to family and friends. Its compact size makes it easy to transport . Road warriors and frequent fliers will find a portable media player such as the MP-2000 a valuable addition to their travel bag. While not the winner of any battery tests, the device will play two movies (of the non-epic variety) on a charge. We wish it supported more video formats, but for the price, we can live with it.

Individuals with a Media Center PC may want to spend the extra money and get a portable media center device, as the ability to synchronize media is extremely convenient. However, for individuals without a Media Center PC who are looking for a reasonably priced solution to take their audio and video files with them, the MP-2000 is a great device!

Pros:
-Affordable device for multimedia on the go
-Playback of supported files works great
-Good battery life
-20GB hard drive for storage of files
-Real time video and audio encoding

Cons:
-Lack of support for MPEG1 and MPEG2 files
-LCD screen has "screen door" effect if viewed too close

Web Site: www.apexdigitalinc.com

List Price: $399

 

Specs:

Display: 3.5" TFT 320x240 resolution with LED backlight.

Size: 4.69"(W) x 2.99"(H) x 0.83"(D). Weight: 8.5 oz.

Battery: 2200mAh 3.7v Lithium Ion rechargeable.
Power Adapter: Input 100~240Vac / 0.6A / 50-60Hz, Output 5Vdc / 2.0A.

Input & Output Connections: Mini-USB, Earphone jack, AV-Out jack, AC Adapter jack, AV-In jack. USB: Supports USB 2.0 High Speed, USB 1.1.

Audio Output: 60mW rms (30mW/channel), 20 to 20KHz, ~90dB

Storage: 1.8" 20 GB Hard Drive.

System Flash Memory: 4MB.

Support Operating Systems: Windows 2000/XP, Windows 98SE/ME (driver required for 98SE and Windows ME).

 

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