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Android Phone - Is it viable as a dedicated PMP? YES!


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#1 Stonerboy779

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 11:00 PM

Introduction:

I am certain that I am not the only person here that has considered the possibility of using an Android phone as a media player. However the question becomes is it worth it can it really offer something better than a media player from the likes of Apple, Cowon, Archos, iRiver, Sony and many more. A lot of the time it offers for most a much nicer and far more customize-able interface.

However then there are some far more chief concerns that come into play. Battery life, Sound Quality and Media Playback.

So I began my quest and I looked around searching out many different phones but eventually I settled on the now rather aged LG Optimus 2X.

Closer Look - The Phone:

Now the LG Optimus 2X comes packaged rather nicely in a small black box with a service manual, USB A to B cable and Charger. If you're lucky you may also get a micro to standard HDMI cable too.

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On the top face of the phone you have a Power/Hold button, Micro HDMI out and a 3.5mm Headphone jack. The direct HDMI out is a nice feature as it allows you to use the phone to play movies etc to a bigger screen without the need to pay for sometimes very costly adapters. The Headphone Jack is of good quality and offers more than adequate connection with my headphones.

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The bottom face has a micro USB connector for charging and syncing and two small mesh panels, one is a faux speaker and is intended only for looks and it certainly looks good. The other (the right mesh panel) does actually cover a speaker. The sound quality and volume of the loudspeaker on this phone both rivals and exceeds the loudspeakers of the Apple iPod 4th Gen, Sony Xperia X10i, iRiver E100, iPhone 3g though 4s and Sony Walkman phone that I have had experience with.

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The left side is unadorned but the graphite grey/silver band that encompasses the phone is very sleek and contrasts well with the slightly rubberized black plastic back of the phone. Everywhere the quality of materials and building that went into this phone, the first ever dual core smartphone is evident.

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The right hand side only contains the volume up and down buttons. They like the power button have a very nice tactile feel and are very solidly constructed.

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A bit of branding on the back of the phone and the 8MP snapper with LED flash photo quality is more than acceptable not quite at the level of my Xperia X10i but far greater than my iPod 4th Gen. In low light with the modded camera app I am running the O2X really excels.

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The phone is moderately sized with its 4" screen and fits well in the hand. The polycarbonate construction and rubberized back mean it feels really solidly built and is just grippy enough that you don't ever worry about dropping it while handling it.

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Closer Look - Operating System and Programs:

Now I am going to come out and be totally honest and say that if you are considering using it with stock OS and programs then it really sucks and does not live up to anywhere near the capeability of the hardware.

So instead I am looking at it from where I now have it. I had the phone all of 12 hours in which time I had managed to root, flash, brick and reflash the thing. (bricking was a stupid mistake and my curse haha always one brick on the first flash and its the only time I ever brick it too). Now I am using a modified stock ROM and a modified kernal.

The Rom I am using is called the "[CM7][ROM] Chuck Norris Edition v.X *LAST EDITION" and it incorporates something called the Aroma Installer which believe you me is a wonderful thing to use in the process of installing the new ROM and turning what is a phone into a PMP.

In the process of installing you are given many many many options. This allows you to pick and choose what you want installed. I basically went through and deselected everything. So from the get go my phone now no longer has installed any of the stock LG apps which cut out about 10-15 useless pieces of software. I no longer have the stock camera app, stock gallery, sms, phone, music apps and the list goes on. Instead of listing what I removed I will list what I kept.

- Holo Launcher (My favourite launcher app it is just so simple and customizeable to reach an amazing level of clutter free enjoyment. It also has the ability to hide apps so apps that are one use in setting up and modding can be hidden from view, also useful for stopping people from editing overclocks and other power user settings)
- Calculator (just the stock ICS one, simple easy and nice to have)
- Calendar (probably wont use it much still tossing up on whether or not to just uninstall it)
- File Explorer
- Torch (turns the LED flashlight into a torch, really really bright on the O2X too)
- Clock (yeah kinda need this haha)
- PDroid (something every root user should have, lets you customize permissions for every app so Angry Birds no longer needs to know your phone number haha)
- Rom Toolbox Lite (again for tweaking more settings
- SuperSU (needed to let you do all the root operations with apps)
- FM Radio (been using this all day at work)

and that is pretty much it now as it stands this is pretty useless missing many apps the least of which not being a music app. Now I do have a preferance of music app as I do with browser etc so I saw no need for the stock ones. Now I shall list what I put back on.

- Google Play (installing this separate means that I was able to cut out a bunch of other google apps that would have otherwise installed)
- Google Car Home (offers a fantastic UI for in the car to let me switch between apps safely while it sits in my phone cradle)
- Dolphin Browser HD (with Jetpack it is just the best mobile browser that I have ever used i have just not found anything that has compared to it on functionality)
- Player Pro ( I paid the $5 for it and it was worth it in every way it has so many features and looks very sleek, it comes with a nice widget and lock screen apps and it automatically pulls artist and album pics from the net. Screenshots of that in a little bit)
- Track ID (this like with the music player, you could really insert whatever you want from the google play store)
- Voodoo Sound (now my kernel included tweaks for Voodoo Sound so I am able to use the Voodoo Sound App to squeeze more performance out of my Wolfson DAC/Amp. Now this is only available on a select amount of phones that sport the Wolfson DACs and the O2X just happens to be one of them, more on this later)
- Youtube (its well made what can I say)
- Touch Key Lights (now I am someone that hates useless lights and as such I have disabled the LEDs that light up the capacitive touch buttons)
- Spotify (got a premium membership so I use it haha if you don't use any online music providers as of yet you should give Spotify a try and as a new user you'll also get one month free of premium)
- SetXperia (it is my favourite app for overclocking and undervolting as well as setting things like caches and governers etc.)
- Quick Pic (the best gallery app I have ever used simple as that defiantly give it a check out)
- Dropbox (usefull to have and I sync my photos with it)
- Modded stock camera app (has better functionality and quality that the stock camera app)

Now that I have outlined all that I have and have just lumped it on you I will make things much more simple for you.

Lockscreen after all tweaking is done.

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The Lockscreen is kept very very simple, The skip forward, back and play/pause buttons are an intergrated part of the rom and they work flawlessly with PlayerPro, FM Radio (skipping stations not songs and turning it on off with play/pause) and Spotify (skipping songs and play/pause as expected.

Homescreens

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The leftmost homescreen holds Track ID and the spotify widgets nice an simple, the main screen is always kept clutter free as I like things very minimal and the righter most screen of the looping homescreens is the Player Pro widget which just looks gorgeous and functions amazingly, its also pretty customize-able.

Menus and App Drawer

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As you can see pretty standard menu a little different in style to ordinary android homescreen menus but this is because it can hold more tabs. The app draw is very clear and I only have one page of apps everything else is either not installer or hidden. As you can see hitting menu inside the app draw brings a slightly different menu up that lets you hide apps good for making things very sleek and usable, just one of the many benefits of holo launcher.

Oh and for those that could give two flying fucks the background is a spectrum analysis of a Sirenia song.



Hardware and Specifications:

Now before I go into more detail on some of my cruicial apps and my opinion of the sound and video quality, I shall share the specs of the phone in full.

Courtesy of gsmarena as were the pics in the first post.

Spoiler



Wifi Speed and Range:

Quite simply the O2X has class leading wireless performance. It goes those extra few meters in wifi range it squeezes more speed and faster pings than its competition. Granted I cannot directly compare it to much else beside my old phone and my iPod touch 4th gen at the moment. Other tests that have been done all put it at ~30Mbs which is faster than device like the Galaxy S2, iPhone 4, iPad and so on. In comparison its cell coverage is just average haha good thing it needs it not as a PMP.

- Continual tests at ~30Megabit speeds with ~20ms pings
- It has a greater range than my Xperia X10i and my iPod 4th Gen and my Laptop
- Only my laptop gets faster wireless speeds however it only does that at 5m from the router at further distances like my room at ~10m the O2X outclasses its wifi performance

Speed test runs to come when I have time to sit down and test old and new phones, ipod and laptop will do 3 runs of each.



Battery:

No scientific tests here only what I have been doing at work the last few days. I have been running the radio, now in CM7 ROMs the only way to get the radio to work is to turn the bluetooth on because the bluetooth module and FM module both populate the chip. It is unable to function exactly in the same way as the stock FM app however for all intents and purposes ignoring the fact bluetooth is on it functions the same.

Back to running the FM radio I have had it on each morning when I start work at 7:30 and I only stop it at 4:00 when I finish so it is going for a nice 8 and a half hours. I am running it through the loudspeaker at full volume too. So for the last 3 days it has consistently used 40% of the relatively small battery in that time I have played music. Working that out rounding down to 40% in 8hours it would mean I should get 20 hours of Radio playback through the loudspeaker.

Both the Radio which needs bluetooth on and using the loudspeaker over headphones are more power consuming than using headphones and the music app. However with all cell coverage disabled/not in use you should be able to squeeze at least 20 hours of musical playback at a time.

Now I am not sure how draining movie playback will be but if you have a hdmi cable connected you may as well have a charge cable connected too. Will update this section more as my experience with the device progresses.



Video:

The device can be registered to playback divex movies which is a nice plus as is the hdmi out. however a current lack of a mini hdmi to hdmi cable means this will be updated later.

#2 Stonerboy779

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 11:00 PM

Very Useful Tweaks:

Status Bar Tweaks

Status bar tweaks is one of the best things brought in under the Cyanogenmod settings it lets me remove the useless icons from my status bar. Which means I can get rid of all the cellular data icons and icons telling me I don't have a sim and so on. I also removed the battery icon because as ypou may notice I use a different app for that, Battery Indicator Pro I find it gives me very good estimates of how much use I can get out of my battery and it also reports battery temp and voltages at the same time in the notifications bar.

To get to the appropriate settings to edit the status bar is easy enough.

Menu - System Settings - CyanogenMod Settings - Interface - Status Bar Tweaks

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Input Settings

Now under the CyanogenMod Setting there is another title for another very useful tweak and this is to input settings. I have used this to turn my forth capacitive button, the search button into a dual purpose button that opens both PlayerPro and FM Radio. Tap for Player Pro and hold for FM Radio.

Menu - System Settings - CyanogenMod Settings - Input Settings - Search Key Behaviour

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You will further notice you can also change the behaviour of the other buttons for the most part my other buttons work the same as any other android phone however if I hold down the back button it is set to kill the foregroud app, good if something becomes unresponsive (although I am yet to have an app become unresponsive, on a whole the LG O2X is a fantastic phone that is nice and fast and really does still pack some grunt thanks to the nvidia Tegra 2 SoC). One other thing holding down hte home key while in the lock screen with toggle on and off the LED torch function which is pretty cool. As far as it goes being a torch it is insanely bright, definitely one of the brightest phone lights I have ever seen.


App - TrackID

TrackID is Sony's track IDing app and its my personal favourite and I felt I may as well give it a quick plug.

From my widget I hit the TrackID button and it opens up as it starts sampling and uploading the music you're listening too.

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All pretty self explanatory what is cool though is that it automatically links the history to your Google account, now this was the first time I opened it but well my entire history from my other phone was there and in my book that is awesome.

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There is also in my opinion a rather useless charts tab but some may like it.

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Clicking on a result bring up another page rather pretty one too and it has several options most importantly though it lets you automatically go into youtube or spotify to watch/listen to the song again.

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Voodoo Sound Tweaks:

Voodoo Sound is an awesome combination of kernel tweaks and a little root access program configured by supercurio (Francois Simond). It is intended to make far better use of the capabilities of the rather amazing Wolfson DAC. At the current time there are quite a number of phones that supercurio has configured patches/tweaks for the O2X being one of them. Some other notable devices are the Galaxy S and Nexus S phones as well as the Galaxy Tab and Asus Transformer tablets.

The Optimus 2X uses a Wolfson WM8994 DAC/Amp. It is very highly featured and pretty damn high quality.

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FEATURES
- Hi-fi 24-bit 4-channel DAC and 2-channel ADC
- 100dB SNR during stereo DAC playback (‘A’ weighted)
- Smart MIC interface
- Power, clocking and data input for up to four digital MICs
- High performance analogue MIC interface
- MIC activity monitor & interrupt allows processor to sleep
- 1W stereo / 2W mono class D/AB speaker driver
- Capless class W headphone drivers
- Integrated charge pump
- 6mW total power for DAC playback to headphones
- 4 line outputs (single-ended or differential)
- BTL earpiece driver
- Digital audio interfaces for multi-processor architecture
- Asynchronous stereo duplex sample rate conversion
- Powerful mixing and digital loopback functions
- ReTune™ Mobile 5-band, 6-channel parametric EQ
- Programmable dynamic range controller
- Dual FLL provides all necessary clocks
- Self-clocking modes allows processor to sleep
- All standard sample rates from 8kHz to 96kHz
- Active noise reduction circuits
- DC offset correction removes pops and clicks
- Ground loop noise cancellation
- Integrated LDO regulators
- 72-ball W-CSP package (4.511mm x 4.023mm x 0.7mm)

The Class W Headphone amp is really quite a marvel and it really minimizes power consumption but offered no issues driving my 62ohm AKG Q701s but I really wouldn't want to try pushing it too much further with higher impedance headphones. Back to Voodoo however. The reworked kernel pathches that supercurio has painstakenly gone ahead and written for many phones allows for much cleaner and higher fidelity audio signals and really lets you get the most out of what is an already good DAC/Amp.

A look at the interface.

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The interface is really rather simple once you open the Voodoo Sond App up. FIrst up you have the current headphone sound level depicted and you can go ahead and edit that as you please with volume keys or a slider that opens up by clicking on the first tab. Then you can set an uper volume limit, mine is set to -5db as that is noted as the line level out as yet I haven't got my multimeter out to check if it actually is line level out. I can also change the upper limit all the way up to +3db on my phone which is a hardware limit.

Continuing on you have a smart amplifier, This is simply just a volume keys mapping hack that lets you control the volume with the hardware keys on the phone. Not sure why anyone would want it disabled but each to their own. Don't interrupt music does exactly that and it switches music when you pull the headphones out. Restore at launnch also does exactly as advertised no surprises there.

Jack plug in safety is a good feature especially if like me you have canalphones and know it really isn't fun blasting your ears with full volume sound. Mine is set to -30dB which is pretty much exactly right for all my music apps in the environments I am using this in. Its a little low if anything but its best both for my ears and for my headphones. After that is some info letting you know the author letting you donate (must do that soon) and details of what kernel driver you are using.

Finally something slightly different to what many of you would be used to.

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Media volume is slightly different you have digital volume and analogue volume. When using the digital volume the voodoo tweaks are doing nothing but once you hit 15/15 digital you break into supercurio's territory and you have this slightly altered world of enjoyable audio.

#3 Stonerboy779

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 11:00 PM

Apps - FM Radio

To be entirely honest there is really nothing too special going on here.

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Off - On Loudspeaker - On Headphones

really nothing too much happening. You have the ability to add presets of your stations, honestly 4 are just there to fill space the only radio station I ever listen to is Triple J 107.5FM and I listen to it pretty my all day every work day. The innterface is moderately pleasing but there isn't anything overly special about the CM7 radio app.

On the sound quality side of things the FM reciever is more than amply clear and I have had no issues recieving nice clear stereo sound as I am lucky enough to work somewhere with good reception naturally as I walk into building etc with denser walls and roofs or metal frames I first cut down to mono and then sometimes static but I haven't really found myself lacking reception yet. I would have no issue comparing the quality of the radio to that of any of my many Technics Hi-Fi Stereo Tuners or that of my car radio in fact i would say it's better than my car radio haha.

Some of you may have noticed that the Bluetooth is on and this is unavoidable as the only way to use the radio module is to turn the Bluetooth on. The Radio and Bluetooth module populate the same chip and the only way devs have been able to get the CM7 radio app to work is through a workaround the requires the bluetooth on. Its alright as the app automatically activates bluetooth and as mentioned earlier I haven't noticed it to be battery draining.



Apps - PlayerPro

Now I have been through many different android music player apps and after some time I settled on this app. It is not without its issues but in my opinion it certainly makes up for what it lacks in other ways. It can handle a whole variety of music formats and most importantly it can play my FLAC rips which is what I really need.

I will get into things by going back to the homescreen widget as this is what i most often use to enter PlayerPro (however that will likely change now that I have set the search button to open PlayerPro).

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From there you open up to the last place you where or if the app is no longer in the memory or you are opening it after turning the phone on you are greated by this page, Albums, now all this artwork is automatically pulled from the internet but you do have the option to manually add and adjust art from directly inside the app with no need for third party applications which is pretty cool.

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Now moving on through the tabs you have Artists, Genres, Playlists and Folders. Personally I usually remove Genres and switch the order of Artist and Album. Folders lets you navigate through the SD Card to find music, useful for poorly tagged music (something I can't abide by haha).

Opening up an Album provides you with a list of Songs and the background becomes a greyscale pic of the album cover which is something subtly awesome and sleek.

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As you will have also noticed there is down the bottom a bar that lets you see what is playing as well as lets you jump directly to now playing. If you long hold on a song you open up a menu with options.Pretty standard stuff, Play, Shuffle, Ringtone, Details, Delete and so on. There are similar options when you hold down on an artist, album, genre or playlist.

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The Now Playing screen is really quite well laid out and looks very nice. I use a Blue Wonder theme which blends in nicely with the blue theme of the phone thanks to CM7. Stock the blue highlights are all green but there is options for other themes, Black, White, Red even Pink and more.

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Finally the lockscreen app adds a final touch of class and functionality this like everything about PlayerPro is highly customize-able.

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screenshot-1351797681702 by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/stonerboy779/]

#4 Stonerboy779

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 11:01 PM

Sound Quality & Conclusion:

I have been running AB test with my Audioengine D1 USB DAC/Amp and the O2X using my AKG Quincy Jones Reference Q701 Headphones and well frankly it is pissing me off.....

Ahahah its a good thing that it pisses me off though. Running no EQs anywhere so flat EQ on Foobar2000 and on Player Pro I am having a hard time to AB test any noticible differences in quality or dnamic range between the D1 and the Wolfson DAC. Now the D1 has a fantastic and exceptionaly flat neutral output that doesn't colour the sound and in my fast switch tests of the exact same FLAC files on my phone and on my laptop all I can say is that I am more than happy to listen to either for media playback.

At the moment I have been testing Downlink's Ignition EP and Tarja Trunen's album My Winter Storm.

Naturally I have no ability to scientifically test but from my own listening all I can say is I rate the O2X audio playback at a level comparible if not of the same quality as that of my Audioengine D1 and I can't really think of much more to say to praise it higher.

I am trying to find fault becuse all I can see at the moment is that the O2X is fantastic value as a PMP and its quality is not surpased by any portable device I have tested as yet. It outclasses the listening experience I got from my iPod Touch 4th gen I have sat down here playing the same tracks MP3 vs MP3 and MP3 vs FLAC and find myself just loving the neautral tones and dynamic range of the O2X. Its also so insanely convenient that I can now get a level of playback almost equal to that of my USB DAC and laptop setup but have the portibilty that is fantastic.

I do still prefer to lay back in bed with my AKG Q701s listening to my actual CDs through my vintage Technics MASH 1-bit DAC and Class A amp but on the ripped music side of things I am definately going to be spending a hell of a llot of time with my O2X.

I now need to find some new canalphones to replace my Senn CX-300IIs they've served me well but I want to try and eperience more of the aural bliss that my Q701s and the O2X bring while not bringing my rather expensive 'phones to work where they'll get trashed.


I hope at least someone has gotten something from reading my ramblings.

Cheers Stoner

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#5 IVIYTH0S

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 11:12 PM

No pics taken by you, THE SHAME :P

(I'll be watching this as it develops in interest, as I can use my old Hero as a PMP on a whim!)

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#6 Stonerboy779

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 11:18 PM

No pics taken by you, THE SHAME :P

(I'll be watching this as it develops in interest, as I can use my old Hero as a PMP on a whim!)

Well I could set up a light box and do a photo shoot..... or just make use of these lovely watermarked photos from gsmarena (check it out kiddos its a fantastic site when you're looking at getting a new phone)

I will have screen shots included soon from the way I now have my phone set up.

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#7 Muchoman1

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 11:29 PM

When i saw the thread title, i knew it could only be you going on about such a thing :cheers:

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#8 Stonerboy779

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 11:54 PM

When i saw the thread title, i knew it could only be you going on about such a thing :cheers:

I think that is good haha

Flickr is being a bitch atm so I cant upload my pics grrr

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#9 makarov

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 01:01 AM

your making me hate my unrootable HTC wildfire s all over again...I use it as my music player, currently using the power amp app

i really didnt notice any change moving from a IPOD but then again im not a audiophile like some of use are :thumbsup:

#10 Stonerboy779

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 01:25 AM

your making me hate my unrootable HTC wildfire s all over again...I use it as my music player, currently using the power amp app

i really didnt notice any change moving from a IPOD but then again im not a audiophile like some of use are :thumbsup:

I am noticing a big change in fidelity going from my iPod to the O2X. It also helps that I am using FLAC files but even the music that was only in MP3 format is sounding better.

There is also the other benifits not just sound related such as a better camera than the iPod and a larger screen, better wifi than the iPod something I used to always praise the iPod for but it is now so far outclassed its not funny (and that is before the ios6 wifi issues). Better music app in the form of Player Pro, better Gallery in the form of QuickPic, dont have apps cluttering up and wasting space they're simply gone, vibrate and led notifications suck on that iPod :lol: etc etc etc

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#11 makarov

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 02:07 AM

I think my headphones are the limiting factor here. I streched my budget and ordered the $70 headphones you said so here's hoping it should improve bulk.

#12 Stonerboy779

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 02:11 AM

Done for now enjoy guys :cheers:

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Man these spammers are geniuses...put (NO SPAM) in the thread title to hide the spam.  It's brilliant.  Hopefully this doesn't catch on...what if rapists wear signs that say (NOT A RAPIST)?  They will be raping everybody! D:

 

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