Housed in a chrome-plated shell, the Joybee 200 features a sleek, fashionable black face with dual colour OLED display. The player's controls run neatly along either side of the rectangular body, which measures 76.5 by 29.9 by 15.9 mm and weighs a tiny 40 grams.
The overall look is similar in shape to a USB flash player. There's no USB adapter here though, only a port on the left hand side. On the right-hand side is a strap hook from which to attach the included leather hand strap. Also included are a pair of stereo headphones with chrome-coloured earbuds to match the player nicely.
BenQ seems to have given this player every feature it can think of, or at least every one available.
The Joybee 200 supports the standard MP3 and WMA formats, as well as TVF (True Voice Format) for voice recording. It has a 7 mode equaliser - Normal, Bass, Speech, Rock, Jazz, Pop, Classic - and playback speed control for those interested in enhancing or distorting the vocals or music on their favourite songs.
There's also a digital FM tuner with 16 preset radio stations, voice-recording through the built-in microphone and lyrics synchronisation to turn your player into a portable karaoke machine. Please note - use of this function in public places may not be appreciated by others!
The direct line-in recording function allows you to transfer music from your stereo to the Joybee 200, without the need for a computer. Simply put a CD in the stereo and connect it to the line-in port. When played, the music is automatically converted and stored as an MP3 file on the player.
Storage capacity is a limiting 256MB, which holds an average 60 songs or so. Although there is no expansion to increase memory, the player is also available in a 512MB version.
With so many features, BenQ's black beauty takes some getting used to. Transferring files onto the player is rather slow, as only USB 1.1 is supported. Once loaded though, sound quality was decent while using the FM radio and playing MP3 tracks. Voice recording also yielded acceptable results.
While attached to the USB cable, you can only play music through the QMusic interface, BenQ's included music software. This is a gripe not unique to the Joybee 200, but still somewhat annoying if you want to top up the battery without stopping your current selection. There are also several playback modes including A-B repeat, intro scan, playlist, random play, all tracks repeat, and one track repeat. As with most MP3 players these days, the Joybee 200 will remember the position of your song if you stop mid-tune or your headphones are accidentally yanked out.
Battery life is a strong 10 hours, lasting from your morning jog (or walk to work), throughout the day and still keeping you company on the way home at night. It may be difficult to play with the functions on the go however -- the display is almost unreadable in sunlight, and the black buttons are all the same size and shape which will leave you relying on your memory in the dark. Add the fact you have to push the "mode" botton repeatedly in order to switch between MP3, FM radio, and voice recorder and you'll definitely start feeling a little lost.
The Joybee 200 performs its functions well but in what has become an over-saturated market, it faces some stiff competition. Troublesome controls and an asking price of AU$219 for 256MB capacity leave it well behind the finish line.