The Marvel looks practically identical to the Azio Digital Audio MP306, although the Cirago player's gray-and-silver body is a little flashier. It measures 3.7 by 1.3 by 0.8 inches and weighs about 1.6 ounces, so it fits easily into a pocket, but it's a bit larger than some of the other plug-in models we've tested. And the Marvel's construction feels slightly chintzy.
The 96x26-pixel LCD shows artist, track, and album information; a battery-life indicator; and the elapsed time. Many plug-in players omit the screen, so it's nice to get one here, but the text is too blocky, and it scrolls to the left in a herky-jerky fashion. Flanking the display are the play/pause and A/B-repeat buttons, while up and down volume keys are atop the unit. You can skip tracks, fast-forward or rewind within a song, and access the main menu using the bottom-mounted toggle switch. Beside it is the Hold button, which lets you freeze the controls.
This strap/earbuds combo minimizes dangling cords when you're wearing the Marvel around your neck.
Loading the Marvel with MP3, WMA, and data files is simple: you just plug the unit into your PC's or Mac's USB port, then drag and drop via Windows Explorer or the Finder. Windows users can also perform transfers with the bundled Digital Audio Manager. The software lets you specify the playback sequence; if you don't, you'll hear the songs in alphabetical order. The included USB extension cable comes in handy when the port is on the back of a machine.
Even through the included earbuds, the Marvel's sound was adequate. You can customize it with the player's four equalization presets. The voice recorder stores about 5 hours of low-quality memos. Unfortunately, there's no FM tuner, a feature we expect in key-ring models at this price. A single AAA battery delivers around 12 hours of music playback.