Overall good player
Rugged, weatherproof, great sound
Size, battery life, can't play CD-R with anti-shock on.
The Bottom Line:
If you are hard on your equipment, get a Shockwave player. If battery life and extreme portability are more important, look at Panasonic's regular portables.
I purchased this player about two years ago as an open-box item at Circuit City for $79. It was highly rated in the "Outdoor Buyers Guide" that year. Since it was going for twice as much at the time, I considered it a good buy.
Well, I did not use it much at first. Then I started commuting on the train and wanted to take some music with me to make the trips less tedious. I consided mP3 players and minidiscs. Their 'gadget factor' was much higher than a plain old CD player. But since I did not have the money for an expensive new gadget, I pulled the Panasonic out for yeomans service.
At first I viewed its ruggedized features as a hinderance. The side clips which hold the unit closed make it a bit cumbersome to change CD's quickly. Also, having the battery compartment inside the unit make it difficult to change out batteries on the fly. But actual usage of this unit have redeemed these design decisions and caused me to change my initial opinions. This unit is designed for real-world use and not to be coddled like fine china. Like a Timex, it seems to 'take a licking and keep on ticking'. Dropping it several times (while in a case) and having it get wet while walking in rainstorms has not had any affect on it. Its simplicity of controls also make it possible to operate it by touch without looking, while it is inside my backpack. I wish it had a wired remote, but I can live without it.
The 10-second antishock is barely adequate. For walking, rollerblading, or car use (with a cassette adapter) it is fine. For jogging, it just ain't happenin. But in all fairness, I have yet to find any player that does not skip while running - even 40-60 second units. Joggers should look at mP3 players or older tape walkmans for a true no-skip experience.
The included headphones are good too, but I not use them. I use earbuds mostly and I just bought a pair of noise-cancelling cans. Sound quality is quite good through headphones or when patched through a home system. I am also happy that an AC power supply was included with this unit. Many of the players sold today do not, forcing you to pay extra for one. Unfortunately CD-R's do not play with the antishock turned on. They play fine with it turned off.
Battery life is not great either. I use the antishock most of the time so it eats batteries faster. But again, most players I've seen do the same. My advice is buy a set of rechargables and keep at least one extra charged set in your pack just in case.
Despite its minor flaws, this unit has become a trusted old friend that I appreciate for its strengths more than berate it for its weaknesses. No unit is perfect. I am very glad that I saved alot of money by not buying a new unit and put that cash into buying alot of new music to listen to. And that's what it is all about, right?