When a smaller company comes out with a product, as a reviewer you got to think hard to find where exactly its USP lies. Even if it does well on that particular point, that doesn't make it fine and dandy for the whole device – there’s a long way to go before that. Unfortunately, while the Zebmate Cinema 3.0 does have something special, it certainly does mess up somewhere.

Design

Wassup mate?

Wassup mate?

It looks like a proper PMP at first sight. A 3-inch display at 400 x 240, with two buttons for navigation at the sides and a button for selecting particular items at the center. On the right, there are volume control buttons at the top, followed by an on-off switch in the middle and a play/pause/go back button at the end. The buttons are well spaced out, so you won’t end up accidentally pressing the wrong one. The player is not a thin one, with dimensions of approximately 91 x 50.5 x 12.5 mm and weighs okay at 46 g. The earphones have in-ear buds, twisted towards the inside. I was quite disappointed to see the unavailability of a lock button. Nearly every player has it, and at the very least there should have been a button combination to lock the screen, but none was available.

Interface and Features

Small and can play videos

Small and can play videos

The Zebmate has quite a few features.  The audio format support is pretty small, but the number of video file formats it can play will certainly impress you. It supports AVI, MOV, DIVX, MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, VCD, DVD, RM, RMVB, XVID, Mp3 and WMA file formats. It has a capacity of 4 GB which means there’s enough to store music and a couple of movies at the same time. It comes bundled with a USB 2.0 data transfer cable that is also used to charge the PMP. However, the UI is not that intuitive and takes time getting used to. The navigation in the menus is quite fast, but not smooth. Besides, the overall visual appeal of the UI is pretty dull and will turn you off. The extra features are that it has an e-book reader, a calendar and a stopwatch. There’s one game that is not even worth mentioning.

Performance

No lock button means unnecessary changing of music

No lock button means unnecessary changing of music

First and foremost, the audio quality with the earphones bundled with is very poor, it doesn’t sound good at all. Even after using a different pair of headphones, it only sounded a little better – more audible to be precise. The preset EQ modes were not very helpful and overall, the sound was more like listening to music while you’re scuba diving. So in the audio department, I would rate this player very poorly. Moving on to the video function, this was one area that was quite satisfactory. The videos played well, there was a slight amount of framing but overall it was quite a nice experience. The battery life was also pretty good, it got me 13 and a half hours of audio and 3 hours & 15 minutes of video playback.

Verdict
As for the main question – to buy or not to buy, it'd be smarter not to. Honestly, as a PMP it is supposed to function well for both audio and video. The fact that it plays the videos well is not good enough to give it an above average rating, simply because audio quality is way below what you would expect.  At Rs. 3,300 it makes for a cheap PMP, but it's definitely not value for money.

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