During the Christmas season, I somehow ended up on a very interesting site called mp3playerstore.com, where I found mp3/mp4 players advertised at what seems like almost impossibly low prices. Granted, they were obviously off-brands and in many cases blatant knock-offs of the ever popular Apple iPod models, but my curiosity was piqued.
I was especially interested in their Inno-22, a virtual carbon-copy of the venerable iPod Shuffle. It was advertised as being on sale for only $4.95 plus the cost of shipping, so I figured, “what the heck?” I’ll be out less than $20, and I may get something that’ll be good for taking on jogs without fear of dropping and breaking it.
The total cost of my order was right around $15, and I was received my Inno-22 about a week and half after ordering.
The packaging is certainly “no-frills.” My Inno-22 iPod Shuffle kockoff came in plain, clear plastic box, with a few accessories packed around it in the shipping container. The plastic on the box was scratched and seemed a little dusty, but the mp3 player itself seemed to be in good condition. I got the black model, which looks pretty good. When I picked it up it didn’t feel like it was going to fall apart in my hand or anything, but it certainly didn’t seem high-end, either. The package included the Inno-22 (2GB capacity), a usb cable, a wall-charger, drivers disc, and a pair of ear buds.
On close inspection, it’s obvious that the Inno-22, despite looking like an iPod Shuffle, isn’t nearly as well built. The casing is hard plastic instead of aluminum, and my unit had obvious gaps around some of the edges. The center “play” button (you know, the one you’ll use the most) actually feels the most flimsy. The next, previous, volume up, and volume down buttons all felt reasonably solid to me. The play mode and power switches also seemed fine, but LED indicator light bled through all the gaps in the device, making them very obvious.
There is a built in clip on the back of the Inno-22, similar to the recent versions of the iPod Shuffle, and it seems to be reasonably strong. I’d be perfectly comfortable clipping this on to a belt loop or pocket without worrying about it falling off and getting lost.
Surprisingly, the Inno-22 doesn’t sound terrible. It also doesn’t sound great by any means, but it’s not terrible. I would say the quality is adequate for spoken word tracks (podcasts, etc.), children, or non-audiophiles. I’m a musician by profession, so I would not make this my primary listening device for music. You should also keep in mind that it’s absolutely necessary for you to replace the included ear buds They sound terrible, look terrible, and are horribly uncomfortable. Find a decent set that came with an old CD player or something, and use those instead.
Since this device has a minimal feature set by design, there’s not a whole lot to evaluate there. You can either play your tracks shuffled, or straight through by artist. Each mode seems to work fine, although in shuffle mode there are occasional delays when skipping tracks.
This a universally compatible mp3 player…it works with all versions of Winodws, MacOS X, and recent Linux versions. I tested the Inno-22 on Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex, and it mounted as a simple external USB drive. I was able to easily drag and drop tracks on the device from my music library. Supported audio formats include MP3 and WMA only. No FLAC, AAC, or OGG here, folks!
The built in lithium-ion battery charges the Inno-22 via USB or with the included wall charger.
The Inno-22 by Innovatek isn’t the highest quality mp3 player out there, and can’t truly compete with the iPod Shuffle in any area other than price. I have yet to truly test its durability or battery life. That being said, the Inno-22 works, sounds okay, and was about $15 including shipping…so I think it’s not the worst value out there. I’m looking forward to seeing how long the Inno-22 lasts, and I’ll definitely also be looking at some of Innovatek’s higher-end models as well.