JNC SSF-8100 Cube Digital Audio Player

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We sure do like our digital audio players here at The Gadgeteer. While I’m an iPod lover, Judie has yet to experience THE BEST player on the market. Sometimes I wish I’d never purchased an iPod because I’m forever disappointed when reviewing new players. Even Apple’s own spin-off has failed to give me gadget hot flashes. Earlier this Spring, I purchased the 1gb Apple iPod shuffle, which I liked for its size and player features, but disliked for its lack of an LCD display. Call me wacky, but I want to see the name of the song as it’s playing… For this fact, that little flash player has pretty much remained unused on my desk since the review.

When I first saw the mobiBlu DAH-1500 being advertised on various gadget sites, I was really excited about it. Not only was it even smaller than the shuffle, it also had my much coveted LCD display! Then shortly after, Brando contacted me to let me know he was selling this same player under the JNC brand name on his digital gadgets page.

To date, the SSF-8100 is the smallest MP3 player that I’ve had the opportunity to review. It is a 1 inch cube that is available in 256, 512 and 1GB versions. Depending on the capacity, it is also available in different colors. I was sent the 1GB Blue version.

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Hardware Specs

Memory: 256, 512MB or 1GB versions
File formats supported: MP3, WMA
Supports Display Multi Language
Built-in FM Radio and FM Radio Recording
Bit rate: MP3 8-320Kbps, WMA: 32-192Kbps
Display: OLED Backlight (Blue)
Built in Li-ion Rechargeable Battery
USB 1.1
Dimension: 25W x 25H x 25D mm
Weight: 18g

Package Contents

Stereo necklace earphones
USB cable
Rubber cover
User’s manual
Windows 98 software

This player is so yummy that you just want to eat it. Ok, maybe not. But really, it’s just begs to be flashed around. Almost everyone that has seen it has had two words to say about it: No Way! They can’t believe that this 1 inch cube can hold 1 GB of music.

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Like the shuffle, this player is simple in design. One face has the display. A gorgeous easy to read bright blue OLED display. The pictures just can’t reflect how cool the text looks as it scrolls across its surface. The information shown on the display includes the song title or filename depending if you have the ID3 option turned on, battery status, track number, song count down time, and volume level.

On the left side of the player are the Hold and Menu buttons. Press the Hold button once and the display will switch to a clock with hours, minutes, seconds, year, date, and day of the week. This time display will stay on the display for about 15 seconds before reverting back to the main playback display.

The Menu button will allow you to navigate through the various settings for music playback (equalizer, play mode, audio boost), display settings (backlight on time, contrast, language, ID3 tags, scroll speed), and other misc. settings (OS version, memory status, set time, auto power off and sleep mode).

On the right side of the player is the main navigation button. It is a circular button with a smaller button in the center. The side ring can be pressed up and down to adjust volume, and right and left to move forwards and backwards through tracks. The middle button doubles as the play/pause button and power button. To power the device on and off, you just press and hold the button for several seconds. Pressing and holding the Hold button for several seconds will put the player in Hold mode, where button presses will be ignored.

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On the bottom of the player is a reset hole. So far I’ve not had the need to reset the player. The top of the player has a standard sized stereo earphone jack and a small lanyard loop.

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Like most battery powered devices, the first thing you must do before using them, is to recharge their battery. This device is no different. So, when I first removed it from the box, I began looking for an AC adapter. When I didn’t find one, I then looked on the player itself and noticed that the only connector it had was the earphone jack. This made me scratch my head and say hmmmmmmm. Then I noticed the USB cable with an earphone jack on one end. Too cool, the earphone jack is used for two functions… Plug one end into the player and the other end into a free USB port on your PC or Mac and you’re able to charge and transfer files. Of course, while the player is transferring / charging, you can’t listen to tunes…

Transferring and charging is completely plug and play with a PC or a Mac. No additional software is necessary. As soon as you plug in the player, it will show up as a removable drive. Just drag and drop your music files and folders like you would to a regular hard drive. Since this player isn’t USB 2.0, transferring music and other files will take a little longer than you may be accustomed to. I personally don’t find this to be that big of a deal considering this is only a 1 GB player. By the way, you can copy any types of files to this player, so you can use it for portable storage as well as a portable music player.

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Once you have some music copied to the device, you can plug in the included set of earphones and start enjoying your tunes. The included earphones are kind of weird. They can be attached to the lanyard loop on the player, so that you can wear it like a necklace. Sound quality is very good. Comfort is so so.

For those of you that like to fiddle with sound settings, you’ll be happy to know that there is a 5 preset equalizer mode that you can set to Rock, Classic, POP, Jazz and Normal. There is also an audio boost setting that amplifies the sound somewhat. Max volume is plenty loud enough though and goes from 1 to 30. I would typically listen with the volume set to 12 or 13.

Unlike the shuffle, this player will allow you to navigate to a favorite song by a method other than pressing the Next track button repeatedly. By pressing and holding the Menu button, the player will go into file mode. Then you can scroll through a listing of all the music on the device till you come to the one song you want to play. Hey, I didn’t say it was easy, but you can do it. The most interesting feature of the shuffle was how iTunes would fill it with new / different music every time you would plug it into your computer. No, this player won’t do that… but you can ‘shuffle’ your music by setting it to play the songs randomly. If you don’t like random play for all your music, you can set it to just randomize the songs for a particular folder / album instead.

Another feature that this player has going for it, is the built in FM radio with a frequency range of 87.5MHz – 108.0MHz. The Prev and Next track buttons are used to tune in a channel, or scan for a station. The radio isn’t the best, but it will pick up strong local stations. Up to 20 station presets can be saved into memory too. You can also record from the radio by holding and pressing the Menu button while listening to a station. The recording will then start and will stop when you press and hold the Menu button for a 2nd time. These recordings will be saved as .MP3 files in a folder called FM.

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Included rubber cover

I’d have to say that this is one of the more interesting players that I’ve reviewed in awhile. It draws attention whenever someone sees it. It has an excellent display, plug and play capability and great sound. Battery life is rated at 15 hrs which is close to what I found during the review period when I had the display turned off and volume set to around 10. Some might think that being so small, that it would be hard to actually use the buttons on this device. I didn’t really find that to be the case at all.

If you want a digital audio player that is both tiny and flashy, this one will not disappoint. Depending on where you find it, the price for the 1GB version is the same an equal capacity shuffle. I’d much rather have this little player than the shuffle. Sorry Apple!

Price: $242 from Brando. Also available from Walmart.

Teeny tiny!
OLED display
Built in radio

No playlists
Can’t play music while player is charging


Product Information

  • Teeny tiny!
  • OLED display
  • Built in radio
  • No playlists
  • Can't play music while player is charging

20 thoughts on “JNC SSF-8100 Cube Digital Audio Player”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. There is another great review (with geeky pictures of the guts of the player) of this player at Anything But iPod. Also, there is now a US version of the player that supports DRM, SRS Wow Effects, USB 2.0, and the 1 gig version is only $130 from walmart.com. Check out the link for the review, and links to teh walmart page.

  3. themog:
    Yup, this thing is small! But I don’t believe it is too small. Getting close though…

    I didn’t try using iTunes with it. I just dragged and dropped folders (albums) of music to it. iTunes didn’t recognize it when I plugged it into my Mac. It just treated it as a mounted drive.

  4. is it pocket-able? it seems like it might be too cubelike to fit neatly in a pocket, like on a run or something?

  5. I’ve seen this in Radio Shack, and according to the Anything but Ipod review, it doesn’t use (or need) any other software – you just drop it into the folders, and it goes. I don’t recall if anyone checked whether it’d work with m3u playlists or not, however.

    Also, I’d probably suggest just wearing it around your neck with a lanyard, or something. It’s an inch-square cube, so it’s pretty pocketable in any pocket that’s not a shirt pocket or a tight jeans pocket, but you have to be careful of the corners.

  6. Julie wrote:

    It fits in a pocket just fine as long as you don’t wear really tight clothes. 🙂

    excellent….score another one for wearing boy shorts that are too big 😉


  7. I don’t know many non-Apple players which do play the protected AAC files from iTunes, come to think of it – and few people in the manufacturing side seem to want to pay extra for the privilege to do so when other companies (Napster, etc) are selling protected WMA content which can be used by 90% of the market.

  8. I have gotten into the habit of backing up my AAC iTunes files when I get around 20 new songs (one 1 full 80-min music CD worth). Burning them in playable CD format, and then ripping them as MP3s. I cannot hear the difference (your mileage may vary), but it allows me to use the music I paid for on whatever MP3 player I have handy.

  9. Here’s a question about the OLED display:

    Does the display go dark (go to “sleep”) after a period of inactivity during music playback? Or does it stay on all the time?

    I’m guessing it goes completely dark.

  10. wirelessandy:

    By default, the display will go completely black after a few seconds of no button presses. This is all controlled through settings. You can set the backlight to stay on all the time if you wish.

  11. Julie,

    I am wondering just how different the player you reviewed and the Wal-Mart version really are. Mine is still charging up, but a couple differences between your review and my manual.

    It does mention the ability to make playlists (although nothing about the m3u ext). Also you can turn off the fade-in for music.

    Also, the US version gets USB 2.0….Ooooh. 🙂

  12. aybara:

    The mobiBlu version also can support DRM music. mobiBlu may be sending me one of this newer version so that I can update the review.

  13. Just got this info from a representative of mobiBlu:

    We saw your recent review of the JNC SSF-8100 Cube Digital Audio Player and I wanted to clear up some facts with you.

    Hyun Won, Inc. (out of Korea) is the creator and owner of the Cube MP3 Player that you reviewed. JNC is a branding partner for markets OUTSIDE of the United States. JNC branded the first generation model, also known as the DAH-1500. Hyun Won also sells the original DAH-1500 in certain markets OUTSIDE of the US market under the mobiBLU brand. In Canada, The Source by Circuit City (the former Radio Shacks of Canada) is selling a special version just for their market, which is the DAH-1500S (same as the DAH-1500 but without FM radio).

    Here in the US, we recently launched the AUTHORIZED MODEL for the US Market. This is the DAH-1500i (uses the i suffix). We introduced the player on our US site last month, http://www.mobibluamerica.com and you can go right to the
    product page here http://www.mobibluamerica.com/dah1500.html

    We partnered with mega-retailer Walmart.com and they are currently our exclusive launch partner (and the only place currently to get the product). You can view the Walmart DAH-1500i pages here:


    There are TWO MAJOR product improvements over the JNC models and the original DAH-1500. Those being:
    1. USB 2.0 (the original is only USB 1.1)
    2. WMA DRM (Digital Rights Management). Now you can use the Cube with major music download sites (not possible with the original and JNC models).

    In addition (and this is a biggy!), the DAH-1500i is priced much more attractively compared to the JNC models. We are right inline with the iPod Shuffle with our 512MB selling for $99 and the 1GB version selling for $129
    (COMPARED TO $242 FOR THE JNC MODEL!!!). Of course, the DAH-1500i offers much more features per dollar than compared to the iPod Shuffle or other small form factor players (OLED Display, FM Radio, compatibility with
    major music download sites due to DRM, etc…). The DAH-1500i has been dubbed ‘the Shuffle killer” by more than one source.

  14. Well, I am really liking mine (ordered online from Wal-Mart).

    With this purchase I found out something else. Either I do not know how to wear earbud headphones, or the necklace style helps keep them in my ears. Normally earbuds do not stay in my ears, and I won’t wear them. The necklace style that came with the Mobiblu stay in just fine. Less dangling cord I guess.

  15. A few other reviews have described its sound quality as mediocre, complained about a 2-3 second gap between tracks, and said the OLED screen is unreadable in sunlight. They also reported the battery life as 6-10 hours.

    And some users have complained that keeping a 1″ cube in a pocket or worn as an under-the-shirt necklace is less-than-comfortable (while the shuffle is much longer, it’s almost flat at 1/3″ thick).

    Needing a proprietary transfer/charge cable diminishes my enthusiasm… if it had an integrated flip-out USB connector on the back face, I’d probably get one.

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