All I wanted for Christmas was a CD jukebox so I could load up 50 albums or so and forget about searching for music, struggling with jewel cases and swapping discs. Then I got this little gem to try out and all of a sudden my outlook has changed. 100 hours of music in a package the size of a CD walkman … wow.

Out of the box I was impressed with the look and feel of the Nomad as well as the fact that 2 sets of rechargeable batteries are included. (4 hours of playback from a full charge). Once the batteries have been installed and the unit is charged up you can proceed with setup. PC communication is via USB so you just plug that in and run the software. The usual setup wizard takes you through the steps and loads the drivers etc. One gripe here is that unless you know enough to say no ahead of time … a bunch of non related software is loaded to your system. Come on guys … it’s tough enough to keep my system uncluttered with stuff that I want. Not only that but all the restarts and confusing windows screens that came up during installation had nothing whatsoever to do with the nomad but rather some internet telephone software that I have absolutely no use for at this point in time.

Now … the good stuff. The Nomad comes loaded with a bunch of music to begin with … some of it good and some that is not my personal choice. The nice thing is that you can just plug in the headphones … push the play button … and listen to some fine digital quality tunes … without any setup time at all. You can organize play lists, change modes and adjust sound effects etc. without the need of a PC. The LCD window and menu are easy to follow and give you lots of options and control. There are jacks for external inputs and outputs so the Nomad can become a component of your entertainment system. EAX special effects are also available and provide some cool sound enhancements to the system.

Start up the software (with the USB connected to the nomad) and you can communicate directly via your PC. Download songs, Create and edit play lists, Rip CD’s or just play music. I found it much easier to work with play lists etc. using my keyboard rather than the few buttons on the nomad. Transferring and Ripping CD’s to the nomad uses CDDB to identify the songs and albums automatically. This means you don’t need to do any typing or categorizing at all. Once the music has been transferred, it is displayed with the album and song titles that you are familiar with.

In addition to just playing the music, sorted by individual songs … albums … play lists … artists … or genres, you can have the nomad play the list once … repeat indefinitely … play random songs or shuffle from song to song. Basically this means you can put all your music in a play list (100 hours of it) and listen to it in random order … forever. Great background for a party or whatever suits your fancy.

Overall I’m very impressed with the technology and the simplicity of the nomad. I don’t see much need for other music players if you own one of these … but then again I thought a 50 CD jukebox would do me for the foreseeable future 🙂

Here are some of the technical specifications of the nomad:

* 6GB hard drive stores over 100 hours of CD-quality audio, or over 150 albums and thousands of personal play lists
* 14-ounce lightweight device
* Offers MAC® OS support
* EAX-enabled
* Parametric EQ adds personalized controls and optimal audio settings
* Headphone Spatialization for enhanced listening
* Adjustable playback speed – ideal for digital audio books, language learning, meeting minutes reviewing. Also useful for slowing down and learning new MP3 songs
* Dual Stereo Line Out for front and rear speakers
* FourPointSurround™ speaker support for an enhanced music listening experience at home or at work
* Reprogrammable firmware supports additional format playback and software extensions
* Line-In for direct stereo audio recording in WAV format from external devices
* USB interface offers fast digital transer rates and quick connectivity and setup
* Downloadable OS for upgrades and extended features such as new DSP algorithms, security features, auto play lists generators
* SDMI ready for access to future label released SDMI compliant content
* Large memory buffer for up to 5 minutes of shock protection
* DC In for separate power supply and battery recharging

Available at Etronixs for $469.95 this unit is well worth it in my humble opinion. Add this set of speakers (with amplifier) from Sony and you’ve got a top notch stereo system that fits into a purse (including your complete music collection).