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Lexar LDP-200

There's a fine line between a player that's designed for ease of use and one that's simply skimpy on features. Lexar's LDP-200, fortunately, fits into the former category. The LDP-200 has no built-in memory and relies on removable Secure Digital (SD) cards for storage, which makes it simple to move your playlists to other devices. You can purchase the player with 256MB ($90, red), 512MB ($120, blue), or 1GB ($180, blue) cards. If you already have an SD card, you can purchase a red LDP-200 without memory for about $40 ($55 MSRP), making it an economical way to see whether an MP3 player is for you.

Make no mistake: The Lexar LDP-200 is intended for digital music newcomers or those who want a low-cost, no-frills, lightweight secondary device to use while working out. You can tell just from looking at the device that it's designed for simplicity. The only controls on the front are a power button, a playback/volume joystick, and a menu button. The left side features the SD card slot and a hold switch, while the right side sports the headphone and USB ports. The blue backlit screen is easy to read, and the menus are easy to navigate, largely because there are so few features to wade through.

The Lexar LDP-200 plays MP3 and DRM-protected WMA files. You can connect the player to a PC with a USB cable and transfer songs via Windows Explorer. If you have a card reader, you can simply pop in the SD card and move files with Explorer. For DRM-protected WMAs, such as those purchased from Napster or Musicmatch, you'll have to use a USB connection and the sync feature in Windows Media Player.

As for features, the Lexar LDP-200 offers shuffle and repeat playback modes, as well as five EQ selections, which include Normal, Classic, Rock, Jazz, and Pop. You can also choose the intro mode to preview the first 10 seconds of each song. That's it. Not exactly the iRiver N10, but considering the target audience, this is all it needs to do. And at least it has a screen.

We downloaded a variety of music genres to the Lexar LDP-200, all of which sounded decent--and surprisingly loud--with a set of full-size Koss UR-40 headphones, and we found that the Rock EQ setting provides the widest range. In CNET Labs' tests, the player scored an average transfer speed of 1.02MB per second, which is a bit sluggish for a USB 2.0 connection. As for battery life, we squeezed 15.7 hours of continuous playback from a single AAA battery, easily beating Lexar's rating of 10 hours but falling short of many other players that take AAA cells.

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