Dell's Digital Jukebox 20 - Built like a Brick

Though the Dell DJ comes in two different models, both have the same weight and size specifications. As expected, this is a hard drive based MP3 player. There really is no other way to offer a competitively priced 5GB or greater MP3 player. Using NAND memory to achieve high capacities would produce a ridiculously expensive MP3 player. Creative's Muvo TX 512MB already hits the sub $250 marker.

Measuring at 4.1 x 2.7 x 0.86 inches, it has the feel of a small PDA without the small weight advantage. Weighing 7.61 ounces, it feels like you're holding a small brick. In fact, it weighs more than a Dell Axim X5 (6.91 ounces), which is one of the beefier PDAs to grace the market.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Unlike Creative's Jukebox design, Dell places most of the buttons on the front of the unit. Their functions are outlined by the decals above or on the button itself, except for the navigational scroll dial that also functions as an Enter command when pushed in.

The casing for the front and back side of the DJ seem be made of anodized aluminum, with a (black) rubberized metal material (possibly steel) as the casing between the two pieces. The center casing has a nice grip to it because of the rubbery texture, and it is similar to the material that we have seen used on the hand-rests on some of the Compaq Presario notebooks.

Click to enlarge.

One of the immediate things that we noticed is the back and home buttons, both having translucent decals centered in the middle. While it is a bit hard to make them out when the DJ is powered down, the buttons light up pretty brilliantly when powered up, as part of the unit's backlight system, even when you are in a bright room. The reverse/skip back, play/pause, and forward/skip forward buttons are only illuminated by a small outline of backlight.

It would have been possible to invert the design, so that the inner portion of the lower three buttons would be backlight and the outline opaque. However, we prefer the design that Dell chose. Going the other way would make the buttons stand out too much because of the amount of backlight coming through. The design chosen streamlines the amount of light emitted and still keeps everything distinguishable.

Index Dell's Digital Jukebox 20 – Built like a Brick (continued)


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  • gettinbranded2003 - Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - link

    I question the timing of this review...Dell will be releasing a new version of the DJ later this summer. Reply
  • EdvardGrieg - Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - link

    I agree, it is getting annoying in the 'final' words that Andrew is claiming that nothing is better than the iPod, when he hasn't really tested anything that would seriously challenge the iPod (ie iRiver and Rio). Further, he seems to dismiss both companies as not even existing. I believe that the Karma had the second highest sales last quarter, right behind the iPod, and iRiver definetely does huge business (moreso on the flash side i believe), but their HD units are still top notch.

    I hope that Andrew has some of these other units on the way as well.

    P.S. hohoho: it's just Rio Karma, no more 'sonic' Rio is actually now part of D&M holdings...yeah, that would be Denon and Marantz :-D
  • cdamion - Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - link


    I bought 2 weeks ago what to my knowledge is the World's smallest MP3 Player with a 20Gb USB2 Hard Drive and with Photo Wallet function.

    It's a lot smaller than the iPOD and any other Hard Drive MP3 Player I know. I'm using it extensively and I love it.

    Advise a Review of it: Archos Gmini 220.
  • cabal427 - Monday, June 21, 2004 - link

    I currently own the DJ 20 and it's great!

    It should also be noted that through the firmware/driver updates it is possible to now store ANY type of file in data mode as well as to copy the data/music to and from the DJ onto any computer.

    Another nice thing w/ the DJ is that because it's based upon the Creative Zen the linux drivers for the Zen also work w/ the DJ and you can access it as a removeable filesystem from within most of the Linux Distros.
  • hohoho - Monday, June 21, 2004 - link

    Sorry, I should have been more specific. I meant it would be nice to see more reviews of mp3 players that are directly competing with the Ipod with similar credientials. By this, I mean the Creative Labs NOMAD Jukebox Zen, Creative Touch, Sonic Rio Karma 20, iRiver IHP 20/40 GB, Pogo Ripdrive, etc. This is why I was pleased with the Dell Jukebox review since it was part of that competitor group. Most of the other reviews, with the obvious exception of the Apple Ipod have dealt with the dumbed down micro MP3 players which most people aren't in the market for as much as Ipod style players. At least for most computer junkies :) Reply
  • nord1899 - Sunday, June 20, 2004 - link

    Why not also review the Rio Karma or the iRiver iHP-120/140?

    Having just upgraded from a Nomad 3 JB to the iHP-140, I doubt I will ever use a Creative product again. Also the iRiver is significantly cheaper than the iPod. The Rio Karma has also gotten rave reviews elsewhere.

    The iPod is not the only player out there you know.
  • Oxonium - Sunday, June 20, 2004 - link

    A good review but I would have like to have seen some side-by-side photos of the Jukebax next to an iPod. Since people who look at the Jukebox will likely cross-shop an iPod, it would be nice to have seen this. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Sunday, June 20, 2004 - link

    hohoho -
    Andrew has been doing MP3 player reviews for quite a while. If you click the audio tab at the start of the page you will find many of the reveiws you requested have already been done.
  • DaCode - Sunday, June 20, 2004 - link

    If, like you say, the interface is Creative's, you may want to take a look at a tool I once found for a friend with a Nomad 2.
    It enables transfer of files from AND TO the pc.
    In 'My Computer' you don't only see the device butr als 'The Jukebox' (with the songs) as a usable harddisk.
    It's called NotMad Explorer :
    Maybe nice to add to the test
  • hohoho - Sunday, June 20, 2004 - link

    It's nice to see an Mp3 player review at Anand. Any chance we will be getting any more of these reviews? I'd be interested to see how the Iriver, Rio and Creative stack up against each other, and I'd also like to see what's so amazing about the Apple Ipod that puts it above the rest in the game. There aren't many decent sites to find good MP3 Player reviews as the one given here. Reply

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