Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Zebronics Cinema 3.0+ Review

With smartphones prepping to compete with almost all genre of devices and Apple taking generation leaps with its touch and portable devices, media players could possibly get obsolete, unless it's something out of the box. Zebronics has been brave enough to come out with a handful of media players, catering to the low segment of the market. The Zebronics Zebmate Cinema 3.0+, the successor of the Cinema 3.0 has several upgrades to talk about, but as a whole, would it be able to hold its ground with intensifying competition? Let’s find out.

Design and Build quality
It looks almost similar to the Zebmate Cinema 3.0. The back is almost similarly glossy, but Zebronics has maintained the plain black and dull appearance on the front. Adding to the dullness is the display screen with three themes and a low-res screen. Although the design is similar to the Zebmate 3.0,  what goes amiss is the absence of the three physical buttons embedded on the front side, which have been replaced by one transparent button as the screen gets the touch ability. It looks like a small block, due to the thick edges with no signs of sleekness. Nevertheless, the build quality is fine and the device is small enough to slip into one's denim pocket.  The 3-inch dull touchscreen is embedded on the front, while the reset and microSD card slot are fixed on the left side, the USB slot and 3.5mm jack on the lower edge along with the lanyard slot. Disappointingly, there are no physical buttons to control the volume of the device. The built-in 4GB memory can be expanded upto 16GB via the microSD card slot.
Rear and Side view
Rear and Side view

The interface of the Cinema 3.0+ is simple and straightforward, but exhibits dull looks. The homescreen shows three icons with an upward arrow. Click on the arrow and the screen displays the rest of the icons. The touchscreen has been divided into sections, a strip on the upper side is forms three sections for type of play that lets you choose from play once, rotate once, sequence, random and rotate all, grading it and equalizer settings.
Dull Interface
Dull Interface

The Menu shows Music, eBook, Photo, Video, FM, Record, Resource, Setting, Light and Theme. The three themes can be changed by tapping on tthe icon, so to choose the third one, you will have to move through the other two by tapping twice. There is a white with theme that seemed almost redundant as the text isn’t clearly visible, while using it. The interface for music is simple, but no volume controls and touch volume not responding accurately seemed a little annoying. The Resource icon clearly shows you the internal memory and the microSD card memory that can be distinguished easily.

It supports MP3, WMA, FLAC, AAC, and AC3 music files. The music interface is simple and neat with the album art, digital beats, name of the song and album and the player bar. At the end of the screen is the home, settings, volume and back touch buttons. The equalizer options include Natural, Pop, Classic, Jazz, Rock, Dance, Soft, DBB, soft. On the video front, it can handle files such as MP4, DivX, XviD, MPEG4, WMV, or even MKV files. It also managed to play the 720p videos pretty well. Though there was a slight stutter here and there. There’s also no loudspeaker present on the PMP either. Headphones are decent, but not too comfortable to use.
 Miscellaneous Features
Media players these days, are known to tag along an eBook reader with photo viewing ability. The eBook reading feature was nothing, but mediocre and the limited display capability didn’t render it any useful. The images displayed seem just about fine, and one can view them in a slideshow. You can also set the time of the slideshow, which isn’t something new either. The photo interface navigation isn’t smooth and could have been kept simple. Besides, the device has the ability to record and play the clips.
Playing 720p video
Playing 720p video

The Zebronics Cinema 3.0+ has a dull interface with a 3-inch resistive touchscreen featuring 400 x 240 resolution. The low resolution of the screen maintained a dull look, irrespective to what we used it for. The touch screen didnt respond really well, and surprisingly the only physical button wasn't quick to respond either. The music quality was just about satisfactory and it couldn’t handle high frequencies well with the bundled earphones. The bundled earphones ensured prolonged comfort, while all may not agree to it, as some folks here found the earphone design to be a little awkward. These earphones came with good noise isolation ability and there was no loss of sound. However, replacing it with the Sound Magic PL11, and the output seemed better. The photos and eBook feature aren’t really practical but the FM reception is pretty good.
Music Interface
Music Interface

Battery Life
On playing music continuously, the device ran for a little less than nine hours, which is quite fine even though it does not meet the said 9.5 hours on the feature sheet. The device managed to play a movie for up to 2 hours.  

The Zebronics Zebmate Cinema 3.0+ is a good attempt by Zebronics, but nowhere close to the fierce competition in the market. It offers just about decent performance and is well priced, if purchased through online stores, such as like Flipkart, who are selling is at Rs.2,600 (M.R.P being Rs.3,450). However, we would suggest you look at other options available in the market, considering there are many more options available.

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