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Blaze MP3
Developer: Blaze
Version: 1.0
Price: £14.99
Description: The MP3DC allows you to play MP3 CD's on your Dreamcast console! Create your own playlists and display the song and artist being played. Also includes free 100 track MP3 CD.
Status:

Easy to use - plays CD based MP3 files
Plays files of any size - plays VBR files
Includes CD and file browser

Screen Shots:
Click to enlarge
Full Review
Are you still listening to CDs as they were ten years ago? You know, 72-some-odd minutes of music, just enough to fit Beethoven's 9th Symphony, yadda-yadda-yadda…. Then you're commiting a crime that's suarre to send thousands of data compression majors into a fit of poorly constructed Huffman encoding trees.

See, they got this new thing called MP3. You can encode your music into MP3 form, reducing your typical four minute track down to around six-or-so megabytes. Do the math - a single CD can now hold over a hundred tracks of high-quality audio. Of course, if you can live with reduced sound quality, you can make the music files even smaller and can pack even more onto a CD. Such is the power of MP3, kids - it's not just for illegal downloads.

So now you've got a CD full of MP3 music, but how to play the thing? You have four options:

  • Play the CD back on your computer. This works, but you're stuck listening to the music while you use your computer. No good.
  • Buy an MP3 CD player. Yikes! Over one hundred bucks! No good.
  • Stick the CD up to your ear and turn it real fast. Maybe, just maybe, you'll hear something. Uhh… never mind.
  • Obtain the "Blaze MP3 DC" for a mere $19.99.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner.

Brought to us by Blaze, the same company behind the DC-X import player and the DC Twin Joystick, the MP3 DC allows you to play MP3 files stored on a CD on your Japanese or American Dreamcast (we haven't tried it with a European Dreamcast, but it should work as well). You simply stick the MP3 DC start-up CD in your Dreamcast, swap it with a CD loaded with your favorite MP3s, and you're ready for hours of music. To get you started, Blaze has included a CD with the package that features around 100 MP3 tracks.

For those interested, here are some of the higher-tech aspects of the DC MP3 playback, as promised by Blaze:

  • Plays VBR (variable bit rate files)
  • Plays MP3s of any size
  • Plays Mono/Stereo files
Of course, to have any real use for this product, you'll need to either have a source for CDs with MP3s of your favorite music (don't ask us where you can buy these - we'll have to report you to the feds), or have the ability to burn CDs with your favorite legally obtained MP3s. This latter step requires access to a CD burner, something that's standard on many computers and is readily available at any computer store.

Once you have some CDs loaded with MP3s, the MP3 DC takes it from there. The software displays a list of MP3 files available on the disk. You can play individual files, or you can select a series of files for a play list. When a song is playing, the television displays the song and artist info if available. You can skip to the next track on your play list with just the push of a button, but that's about all you can do - there's no forwarding or rewinding through tracks, or pausing.

Be aware when picking up the MP3 DC, that you're getting somewhat of an underground product. The interface for playing music is pure text, which may scare off some. Also, the MP3 DC software is on a CD, not a GD-ROM. If you have a newer DC, you may not be able to run it. Make sure the store you buy the MP3 DC from will allow you to return it if it doesn't work with your system.

If you really want an MP3 CD player and don't mind a few rough interface issues, the Blaze MP3 DC is a good choice.

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