The mobiBLU DAH-1500i Cube is, as its name suggests, a cube-shaped player, with each side measuring 0.94 inches. The title of “Smallest Full-Featured MP3 Player on the Market” might lead some readers to believe the player is nothing more than a poor-performing gimmick, but nothing could be farther from the truth.
Surprisingly, the DAH-1500i doesn’t sacrifice performance for design. The Cube holds 1GB of audio files, supporting MP3, WMA and WMA-DRM formats. The onboard Lithium Polymer battery is good for hours of playback on a single charge, and one cable provides both USB connectivity and power. The Cube includes a bright, crisp OLED screen, an FM tuner and recorder, a built-in voice recorder and new features like SRS WOW audio processing. Each of these features is lacking from the iPod shuffle, yet the mobiBLU Cube is just as affordable, priced under $130.
The mobiBLU DAH-1500i ships with necklace ear buds, a plastic protective case, a USB 2.0 charging/syncing cable, a paper User Manual and mini CD-ROM with software.
Look & Feel
The DAH-1500i Cube is obviously a product that is the result of a great deal of time and planning. It’s amazingly small and light. Available in six colors, the Cube has a shell of colored and white plastic.
The face of the Cube is home to its OLED screen, which displays current track information and provides access to settings menus. The main controls are located on the right side of the Cube: play, pause, next, back and volume control. The left side of the Cube houses the Menu and Hold buttons, leaving the top of player free for the headphone jack. The design is simple and straightforward, which makes the Cube easy to learn and use.
In hand, the first thing that strikes you about the mobiBLU is how light it is. At just over one ounce, it’s akin to holding nothing at all. When we find a player that's well put together, it’s usually because the unit has a very solid feel. We wouldn’t describe the DAH-1500i as “solid” because it is so very light, but it is well put together and held up very well in our testing, both to use and moisture.
Our only complaint about the player’s design concerns its buttons. They’re obviously very small, which could be a problem for some, but they are also a bit stiff, which makes pressing some of the controls more of a task than it could be. Also, it's easy to imagine that, if not properly cared for, that they might begin sticking a year or so down the road.
One Jack to Rule Them All
One of the unique features of the DAH-1500i is its jack. The 3.5mm headphone jack found on the top of the player pulls triple duty, acting as not only the connection for headphones or speakers, but also as the USB and charging connection. The included USB 2.0 cable is a standard USB connector on one end and a headphone-type prong on the other.
The fact that the player charges through the USB cable is great as long as you’re near your computer; if you want to take your player with you on a trip, for example, and you’re not bringing your laptop (perish the thought), you won’t be able to charge the player without the optional AC adapter.
Software & Features
The software that runs the DAH-1500i is fairly standard as digital audio players go. When a song is playing the screen displays track information including title, file type, elapsed time, bit rate, battery level, volume level, etc. The player can be set to repeat, repeat all, random or random-repeat all playback modes.
The included FM tuner has all of the expected features including station presets, scan, etc. There’s also an Auto Scan feature that allows the unit to scan radio frequencies for the best signals and automatically save them to the preset station list, which can store up to 20 separate stations. If you want to save what you hear on FM for later, the built-in FM Record function encodes the radio broadcast to an MP3 file at the bit rate of your choosing: 64, 96, 112, 128 or 160Kbps. This is one of our favorite ways to discover new music, and a great way to avoid the dreaded “… what was that song I heard the other day…?” aggravation.
The Sound Settings menu allows you to change many aspects of how you like to hear your music. Many users never touch these menus, but if its your way or the highway with your music, you can make many changes here. There’s a pre-programmed equalizer with nine presets including Rock, Jazz, Classic, Trubass, WOW, etc. There’s also a User EQ for tweaking the individual sliders yourself.
Overall, the DAH-1500i sounds great. Its bass performance is particularly good, sounding better to us than the iPod shuffle or Creative MuVo Micro N200. The sound quality is high even at the maximum volume settings and we were quite pleased with the sound it provided for every genre of music we tested.
The volume could use a little work in the next version because, even at maximum, it’s a bit too low. The included necklace ear buds sound pretty good, but the unit sounded even better with our Shure E2c Sound Isolating Earphones.
mobiBLU claims that you can expect about ten hours of use per charge, but we got a little less than nine in our tests. This isn’t as much as many small flash-based players on the market, but considering the size and weight of the Cube, it’s pretty impressive.
Even with our minor complaints about the unit’s max volume level and somewhat stiff controls, the mobiBLU DAH-1500i is an amazing player with a lot to offer any mobile music lover. It’s incredibly small and light, has a brilliant OLED display, and stores a gigabyte of audio. The three-in-one headphone port means you don’t need a lot of cables to manage the player and the included case and necklace ear buds make using the DAH-1500i while jogging or working a breeze.
If you want the smallest player out there, and you can live without iTunes, you have a date with the mobiBLU DAH-1500i.