At 84 x 60.6 x 19.7mm, the HD200 is just too big for a 5GB player when compared with other offerings like iRiver's H10 and Creative's Zen Micro, though it is not too heavy at 106g. Yet apart from jibes in the office that this MPIO tries too hard to be like the iPod (the colour white seems to be owned by Apple in the MP3 category), the player has a very decent reflective surface on the front and a grey steel back with an MP3 equivalent of a radiator grill built in.
Playback and menu navigation controls are located on the sides of the HD200, with the Play, Record (buttons), Hold switch and a depressible rocker switch on the right and volume controls on the top. There is also a reset button on the left. Line-in, USB and power are found at the bottom of the HD200. We particularly like the fact that the protective rubber bund for the USB and line-in port proved difficult to remove even with persistent tugging; not something we will lose in a hurry, unlike some other players.
Tactile feedback on all the buttons is responsive, and while the display (a bluelit monochrome LCD) may appear antiquated in this age of OLED and photo display MP3 players, the eight-line display is very readable with all pertinent information such as battery status, time elapsed, track info displayed with an icon-based user interface.
Though the included suede pouch (with belt clip) is of a higher quality than we have come to expect from included freebies, it is not well-designed with the HD200 in mind as most of the hardware controls other than the volume and rocker switch are not visible when the player is in the pouch.
The HD200 has a rich feature set that includes FM radio, recording (FM/voice/line-in) as well as SRS and Trubass in addition to the onboard preset equalisers. Though the HD200 comes with three software programs (two media players and an office productivity software), it does not include a dedicated music management program even though the HD200 provides with ID3 support.
However, track search through genre, title, album and artist is still possible, though via a less hassle-free experience. Once the tracks are dragged and dropped into the HD200, a separate MPIO utility needs to be fired up before the songs are viewable under their respective categories within the player menu.
Fast forwarding on the HD200 is a bit of a pain, since the player allows only incremental skipping at a constant rate of 5 seconds each time, which translates into quite a wait if the chorus you went to hear is somewhere in the middle of the track.
The HD200 comes bundled with a good set of earphones that rather resemble the Sony MDR-E888 as well as a wired remote control which uses the same glossy white finish as the main unit itself.
If you are into playlists, the best way to arrange it is via the creation of a separate folder to store your favourite tracks, though this is something that can be done only on the computer, not in-player.
The HD200 does deliver on the sonic goods with a tight treble and a meaty bass on both our test tracks, though the player startup was a sluggish 9 seconds. The HD200 had a good showing on the transfer front, rating 3.88MB per second using an assortment of MP3 files and garnering an impressive 5.53MB per second on large file transfers.
Radio reception on the HD200 was adequate in our test location in an office tower. However, the signal was plagued by intermittent distortion when we started moving around.
We recorded a playback time of 9 hours 22 minutes, very mediocre given the current long battery span for most of the leading MP3 players.