A very compact and portable device that, thanks to the included 3.7 V 18650 lithium-ion battery, provides hours of music per charge.
Let’s get a few things out of the way first. The D-72E Portable MP3 Player and FM radio from Bannixing has a size, shape, and color reminiscent of an early 2000s-era point-and-shoot digital camera. It does not look or feel very cutting edge – and that’s because it’s not. In fact, it’s an interesting mix of old (yet reliable) and new (but not too new) elements.
The device, also known as the Anncia 72E, does play MP3s but does not have any on-board storage or a readout of song/artist information. The radio is reliable and produces a clear sound, but from the FM band only. You dial the frequency in with buttons, but control the volume with a dial.
You might expect it to run on two or three standard AA or AAA batteries, but it doesn’t – and that’s where things get interesting. This portable MP3 player/speaker runs on a removable, rechargeable 18650 lithium-ion battery. This is the same kind that is included in (but not designed to be removed from) most power banks, portable chargers, and laptop batteries. You probably own at least few devices with one or more 18650s inside, but most likely none where they are intended to be removed.
That this radio runs from one of these types of rechargeable battery (that is made easily accessible) will not be a big deal for most people. For me, though, it’s among a few primary reasons I purchased one:
As I mentioned, the Anncia Portable MP3 Player and FM radio doesn’t take up a lot of space – it has the same footprint of two or three stacked iPhones. Although it’s constructed of plastic, it feels sturdy enough to toss in your bag before heading out camping or for a day at the beach.
Its decidedly low-tech looks makes it a less attractive target for theft but, since it’s priced at under $15, if someone were to steal it, it would be much less of an issue than if they took my phone (my usual method of playing music while out and about). I also don’t need to worry as much about it getting damaged or broken.
Uses 18650 Batteries
You can buy a number of cheap radios/portable speakers that are rechargeable, but how many let you remove the battery? Of the ones that do, how many use a size that’s both high-capacity and becoming increasing common in a range of devices? Bannixing currently produces some of the only portable audio devices that use 18650 rechargeable batteries. (Note: if this is an important feature for you, make sure you are buying a model that uses 18650 and not another type such as BL-5C. Oftentimes slightly different models are sold alongside each other.)
Sound Quality and Volume
For it’s size, this radio/MP3 player can play your audio at a respectably high volume without too much deterioration of sound quality. I could clearly hear a news program I was listening to, with the volume turned up about only a quarter of the way, from across a medium-sized room. Music is similarly clear, even at nearly full volume at a work site with lots of ambient noise. I have no doubt it would perform excellently at the beach, which is one of the places I had in mind for this radio/MP3 player when I purchased it. I haven’t used the headphone jack much, but after initial tests I can confirm it works just fine, should I decide to.
Features and Functionality
Although it would be nice to have access to AM stations, the FM radio is on-point. Using the 10 number keys (0-9), you simply type in the desired frequency (three or four digits) and it quickly tunes in. For example, 1033 tunes to 103.3 MHz, 885 tunes into 88.5 MHz, and so forth.
The preset functionality is kind of funky at first, but pretty convenient once you figure out how to set them. The keypad has a button with a magnifying glass icon. After a moment of pressing and holding it, the D-72E’s FM tuner jumps to 76 MHz and scans until it reaches the first detectable station, sets it as preset 1, then scans to the next detectable station, sets it as preset 2, and so on until it hits the end of its frequency range (108 MHz). After all identifiable stations are made into presets; you can either dial them in by number (one or two digits) or press the forward/back buttons.
These forward/back and number keys function similarly for changing tracks when in MP3 mode, which can be enabled by pressing the green “MP3” button (FM radio mode gets its own separate orange button). After inserting a micro SD card or USB stick filled with MP3 or WAV files, you can move up or down tracks (one at a time) or dial in the track number directly. For example, entering “256” brings you to the 256th track on the removable storage.
Another useful feature is fast-forward/rewind, which can be accessed by pressing and holding the back or forward buttons, respectively. My favorite feature is how it remembers the track you were playing, so you can turn the device off, then start where you left off (both the track number and position) the next time you turn it back on – a simple detail, but one that I find particularly useful when playing audio books.
There is a small flashlight built into the side of the device. It’s not particularly powerful, but could be useful for (briefly) reading a document or finding something in your bag. I don’t find myself using it much, although occasionally it comes in handy when a real flashlight (or my phone’s improvised “flashlight”) isn’t nearby.
Although the manufacturer estimates a playing time of 8+ hours, your results will vary greatly depending on volume level. At high volume, with the included 2200mAh battery, I’ve been averaging a little less than 4 hours. I imagine you could extend this playtime another hour or if playing at a lower volume, probably even more if using a higher capacity (3000mAh+) battery. Thanks to the ability to easily swap out batteries, you could keep a few charged 18650 batteries on-hand as backup. This is where having several devices that run on that size comes in handy, making it great for camping or traveling.
The D-72E comes with everything you need to start listening:
- Bannixing 2200mAh battery (1)
- Micro USB cord
- Carrying string (already attached)
- User Manual (somewhat helpful, if not very coherent)
- Micro SD card – Although not included, you can purchase an 8GB or 16G micro card, with full-size SD adapter, online or in-store for as low as $5-10.
- USB flash drive – similar to above, flash drives are super cheap these days (so not a huge deal as far as I’m concerned).
- Plug-in USB charger – you can use an existing phone charger, or plug into your computer/other power source. Alternatively, you can remove the battery and use a standalone charger.
The Bannixing D-72E audio player is a very compact and portable device that, thanks to the included 3.7 V 18650 lithium-ion battery, provides hours of music per charge. You have your choice of accurate and clear FM radio tuner or playing MP3/WAV audio files from either a USB flash drive or micro SD card (neither is included, though). While it has its shortcomings, if you know what you’re getting, it’s a solid buy at under $15 and among only a few radios powered by the versatile 18650 battery.