The Squircle could pretentiously be called a convergence device, but it's really just a glorified card reader. Zero internal memory, no screen, a rubbery shell and a peculiar shape aren't the best starting points for an MP3 player.
But play MP3s it does, and to boot it'll jack into your nearest USB cable for all the card reading fun you can wave a stick and an SD card at. For just £15, we felt we should give this little guy a chance.
Find yourself a large lump of black Plasticine and squish it into a flat square shape. Then round off two opposite corners and leave it to go stagnant. The result is a lump of rubbery gunk that resembles half a square, half a circle -- hence the name. There are also five large rubbery buttons that require significant pushing and endless patience. It's about as pleasant to use as putting your hand in a trouser press.
On one side there's a mini-USB port and a headphone socket. On another, an SD card slot. There's no cover for any of these ports, so don't take it to the beach.
The back of the Squircle holds a single AAA battery, hidden behind a little flap. There's also a lanyard hook -- you'll be able to show off this grotesque piece of kit to all your friends.
We hoped the Squircle's primary feature was its card-reading abilities. Sadly, it's very slow as a card reader. It took over five minutes to transfer 90MB of digital photos from our SD card, as opposed to about 40 seconds using our usual reader. It also reads and writes to MMC memory cards. For emergency use, the Squircle will do the job.
Aside from being a card reader, the Squircle plays MP3s. If you have an old 256MB SD card hanging around, load it up with your least favourite songs and thrust it into the Squircle's card slot. Tracks can be skipped through quickly using the bloodcurdling navigation buttons. The Squircle will support memory cards up to 2GB in capacity.
Music quality is terrible. In all honesty, this is the worst-sounding MP3 player we have ever heard. Quality is akin to an old cassette that's been left behind the fridge since 1989. It's tinny, lacking any definition and abusive to the name 'digital'. A more pleasant experience can be had falling out of a tree and landing on the corrugated metal roof of an Anderson shelter. At least it's over quickly, though -- your AAA battery will only last 6 hours, which is frankly pathetic.
The Squircle's box states that having twin LEDs is a feature. Relative to the pathetic excuse of every other aspect of this device, the twin LEDs truly are astounding features. We're talking red and green lights. Don't tell us that's not an achievement.
In the Squircle's defense, it costs about fifteen quid. As a portable backup card reader for a digital photographer, this will at least provide some security. If said photographer wants to silence the screaming tyke in the back seat of the car, they could throw a Noddy soundtrack on to an old SD card and plug the (also rubbish) supplied earbuds into the child's ears and enjoy a more pleasant trip. The gigantic vomit-proof buttons will even withstand a barrage of childish travel-instigated nausea.
This truly is the most horrible excuse for an MP3 player we've ever heard. Don't be surprised if your toddler's first words are, 'Daddy, why does Noddy sound like he hates me?' As an emergency card reader it's not too bad. But perhaps the most redeeming feature is that it'll skim across a lake like no pebble you'll ever find on a beach. Expect even the most woebegone and wretched five-year old to think you're cool as a result.
A suitable alternative would be any MP3 player on CNET.co.uk, along with the cheapest card reader you can find in Argos. You may pay a little more but we guarantee your karma will benefit as a result. The fact that some dog toys cost more should push you in the right direction.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide