Chocolate players

For any mobile technology, design is an extremely sensitive issue. This is not surprising: in spite of everything, the majority of buyers choose their phone, player, and even camera according to their “clothes”.

n-series iriver and Samsung YP-F1 owe their popularity to design

And creative work, the work of a designer in our time is much more expensive than the work of the same engineer. Especially in portable electronics, because designers here literally walk on a knife edge: if you create something too original, “people won’t understand”, if you strictly adhere to traditions, the device will be branded as “boring”. And you also need to remember about ergonomics, and do not forget that your creation should fit all the necessary electronic filling without any problems. In general, the task is not easy.

This is probably why cloning, copying, design "based on" have long and firmly established themselves in the portable industry. No sooner does one company or another create something fresh and successful than a lot of imitators relegate it to the category of “form factors”. You don't have to look far for examples: there are Motorola RAZR phones, Casio Exilim cameras, and iPod nano players.

It's hard to blame the developers for this, after all, as a result, an interesting design idea becomes available to the consumer in a greater variety of options. On the other hand, such an approach can quickly turn an entire industry into a sanctuary for Dolly sheep - this happened with mid-priced MP3 players, it is not easy to find something fundamentally different from nano now.

But at the present time it is already a given, with which nothing can be done. It remains only to observe the development of events and try to find the difference between the models appearing on the market, sometimes similar to each other like two drops of water.

We've previously looked at offerings on the market that look similar to the iPod nano. Today's material is not devoted to the form factor, but rather a narrow design technique that mainly affects the controls. Nevertheless, its use makes devices of even different classes related to each other in terms of consumer perception. We are talking about the design, which has already managed to stick the nickname "chocolate".

Name history

The roots of the name go back to a series of LG cell phones under the general name "Chocolate". As usual, the Korean company was by no means the first to use such a design. But powerful advertising, brand awareness and the fact that such a design was used for the first time in phones, and phones are the most massive and well-known product from portable technology, all this eventually made the LG trademark a household name.

The successful name also played its role, it turned out, in the truest sense of the word, delicious, gave room for playing around in articles and headlines, echoed the appearance and size of the devices, and was memorable.

LG Chocolate's design has inspired several mobile phone manufacturers to use this technique, but it's not a mass phenomenon here. Conversely, among MP3 and MP4 players, the "chocolate" design spread like wildfire, only a small part of manufacturers (among them, paradoxically, LG itself) escaped the temptation to follow fashion trends.

Among the "chocolate" players you can find Jukeboxes, devices on 1" drives, flash MP3 players, MP4 players, and HDD-PMP. These are products of both Korean and Chinese, European and American companies. Many of them can hardly be called LG clones or “inspired” products. they were announced at the same time, or even much earlier than the phones of the Korean company. But their modest announcements were drowned in the advertising hype around "chocolates".

Technical details

What is "chocolate design"? Technically, to be included in this category, the player must have a touch control, covered on top with a translucent material with a glossy, mirror-like surface (usually acrylic, but glass is also used). The "canonical" option also requires the use of LED backlighting for key indicators and control surfaces.

In sum, all this gives a pretty strong "wow" effect. In the off state, any controls are not visible. And when you turn on the previously empty surface, as if by magic, luminous key indicators appear. The effect is related to the rather ancient “magic mirror”, when an OLED display also “magically” appeared on the mirror surface (in fact, under it). It is not surprising that today these two techniques are often used in pairs. The main psychological effect is the effect of transformation: just before the audience there was an absolutely dead, empty mirror surface, and suddenly it came to life, an image appeared on it, keys. It looks like a trick, it looks very futuristic, especially for people who are not tech-savvy.

Characteristically, one of Apple's PR photos, showing the iPod 3G in the dark with the backlit keys, was circulating the internet as a picture of a "new black iPod".

In this way, the general public was able to feel the potential of the solution "red glowing indicators on a black glossy background" even before the manufacturers. But the black iPod 3G never showed up.

Introduced in April 2003 (nearly two years before the announcement of the LG phone), in the summer of 2004 the third generation was replaced by the fourth series. It no longer had "chocolate" keys, they were replaced by the well-proven iPod mini Click-wheel. Probably, it was the latter that overshadowed its predecessor, erasing the touch-sensitive iPod from history. However, the “chocolate” baton was picked up by other manufacturers.

The first "chocolate"

The first of these was the Japanese Olympus. The company has been a recognized authority in digital voice recorders for many years, first analog, then digital. Therefore, the appearance of its MP3-players in the assortment was perceived with interest, since the product categories are not too far from each other. The flagship model was supposed to be the MR-100, a device with a microdrive, a classmate of the hit iPod mini. In it, Olympus applied the whole range of design techniques, later called "chocolate".

The front panel of the player was one absolutely flat plate, impenetrably black while the device was turned off. When turned on, it came to life and showed the user's astonished gaze an inverted monochrome red-backlit LCD and also red-lit key and scroll bar indicators.

The MR-100 control panel is the work of the "bison" touch control, the company Sinaptics (photo from rockbox.org)

It is worth noting that the technique of "bright red LEDs on a black background" was repeatedly played up in the 80s in American popular culture, in particular, in science fiction series and films.

The "star" of the Knight Rider series, popular in the US and Europe in the 80s, the "intelligent" Kitt car was remembered for its combination of glossy black color and bright red LED

There he illustrated exactly futuristic motifs, the technique of the future. Perhaps this is also why the Japanese novelty has aroused keen interest. As usual, the nickname “iPod killer” (in this case, the iPod mini killer) immediately stuck to it.

After the device appeared in the flesh, the enthusiasm subsided. Olympus diligently went through all the rakes that ruined other "iPod killers" before and after it.

Functionally, the MR-100 was a mini copy and was similarly devoid of any additional functionality, be it a radio or a voice recorder. Music was recorded on the device, of course, through unstable and inconvenient proprietary software. There were other “jambs”: the headphone jack was inconveniently located on the side of the player, with the basic firmware the device had a very low sound volume. By themselves, all these sins could be tolerated, but not against the background of the iPod, which, moreover, was cheaper.

Marketing support was also rather weak. As a result, sales of the device, especially in the US, were insignificant. In 2005, Olympus was hit by a crisis that required the shedding of redundant divisions and concentrating on the company's key digital photography market. The MP3 direction, closed in November 2005, also went under the knife. That is, the MR-100 managed to get off the assembly line even before the first announcement of the "chocolate" LG phone, which borrowed, voluntarily or involuntarily, the main features of the Japanese.

Underrated Tuny8

At the turn of 2004-2005, when the Olympus MR-100 was just appearing on the market, a company on the other side of the Korea Strait developed a very similar device. Only, unlike its Japanese counterpart, Dynetel Tuny8 was built on flash memory.

The first photos of the Korean prototype appeared a little later than the Olympus announcements, which makes Dynetel (more precisely, the design company that created this design for Dynetel) suspect of some plagiarism. On the other hand, Tuny8 had a number of differences, for example, its keys were not backlit, but were marked with paint on the surface of the front panel. So perhaps there was an idea "in the air" here. After all, similar ideas have repeatedly slipped before in the design of remote controls and in various concepts.

At the beginning of 2005, the Tuny8 was an interesting device, ahead of its time in many ways. In addition to the "chocolate" design, he carried the motifs of the first generation iPod nano, which then had almost a year before the announcement. A color display, support for MPEG4 video, USB 2.0 and a USB host - this set seriously raised the device above its classmates.

However, he was not lucky enough to be born "to a poor family" and at the wrong time. The beginning of 2005 was the time of players on microdrives, expensive flash devices were not popular. The small caliber of Dynetel did not allow her to spin it on her own. As a result, Tuny8 lasted as a prototype for almost a year, before the introduction of the iPod nano.

Then it was finally noticed, and it began to appear on sale in different countries and under different brands (and, of course, with the stigma of nano-clone, and later Chocolate-clone).

Reviewers couldn't resist comparing the Tuny8 to the iPod nano, even though the latter came out almost a year later

Unfortunately, the origin affected the quality, it was unstable, the sensors often failed, there were problems with a high level of marriage. As a result, the innovative Dynetel model was subsequently safely forgotten.

Design takes on a name

Thus, by December 2005, when the first information about LG Chocolate, then called Cyon, became available, "chocolate" design in one form or another had already been present on the MP3 player market for more than two years.

But that doesn't change the fact that LG's phone was the catalyst for this design to move from niche experimentation to mainstream form factors.

Dutch School

Samsung and Philips are its most famous fans. The Dutch generally presented their models in this style almost simultaneously with LG, which again suggests that we are not copying, but similar thinking.

This is also indicated by the 2003 Philips Jukebox HDD100.

Touch control has not yet been observed there, but the love for "black-black", as well as the desire to "hide" the display and control on the front panel, is impossible not to notice. So, most likely, the European company came up with such a design on their own (well, maybe a little sideways glance at the Olympus MR-100).

At the end of 2005, Philips introduced two models - the Jukebox with 30 GB HDD6320 and the player with 1” HDD1420.

Both exploited motifs already known to us: a flat glossy front panel, impenetrable when turned off, key indicators and a display “appearing” on it when turned on. True, unlike Olympus and LG, the backlighting of the keys was blue. Both devices met with limited success due to overpricing, lackluster promotion, and the use of the MTP protocol in its early, feature-limited form. The HDD1420 model was especially uncompetitive; after the release of nano, there was no point in releasing it at all. Almost a year later, Philips introduced another device in the same style, but on flash memory, the SA9200.

He had all the shortcomings of his older brothers, which determined his limited sales.

Chocolate + nano

The SA9200 shows another idea that has been widely adopted - superimposing a "chocolate" design on the nano form factor. This technique was anticipated by Dynetel Tuny8, and in 2006-2007. such devices completely went "jambs". Compact, simple, strict and at the same time original, they are very popular. The main producers are Korea, where LG Chocolate became a super hit, and China imitating them.

Here are some of the smaller companies: Korean Median, CM-Tech, Technonia, Oracom, Chinese Teclast, BBK, Gemei, Taiwanese Coby.

Median chocolate machines

Chocolate players from CM-Tech and Technonia

Probably Korea's only "chocolate" Oracom MP4 players

A whole family of "chocolate" Coby players: Jukeboxes and devices on flash memory

Chocolates by Chinese BBK and Taiwanese Luxpro

Dynetel didn't leave the "chocolate" theme: Tuny9 MP4 player and Tuny11 nano-class player

Among major manufacturers, Samsung has already released two devices in this style: YP-K5 and its cheaper mass modification YP-K3.

The use of blue lighting brings them closer to Philips players. Logos aside, it's not easy to tell the SA9200 from the YP-K3 at first glance. But the Korean company is making much more efforts to promote their models, and their prices are more reasonable. Therefore, Samsung chocolates are more successful in sales.

The French-American RCA-Thomson could not resist the combination of gloss and illuminated sensors, releasing the Black Diamond model.

Here we see the blue backlighting again, although there are also original elements: a “faceted” shape of the case and indicators in the form of a crosshair. True, it is difficult to find a player on sale, apparently, it is more profitable to trade in cheap Chinese OEM devices now. Or maybe it's the wrong decision to build a device on an unfashionable now 1” 8 GB hard drive.

At this time, China is trying on a "chocolate" design for its MP4 players, because it is on them that they rely in the first place. More than one or two MP4 models in this design have already come out from the pen of designers and from the assembly lines of factories. Many have already moved into the category of public design and are offered by dozens of Chinese companies.

Pros and cons

The advantages and disadvantages of the "chocolate" design have already been the subject of numerous discussions, they are described and widely known. Its strengths - "magic", "wow" effect - have already been described above. Disadvantages include:

  • Lack of tactile feedback, which makes player control generally inconvenient, and even blindly impossible.
  • Houses & Apartments For Rent in Adabraka
  • Instances of incorrect operation of sensors are especially typical for models of the lower price range from little-known manufacturers.
  • Difficulties with driving in the cold (especially true for Russia).
  • Susceptibility of glossy finish to soiling (fingerprint magnet effect). In some models, for example, Samsung, it is weakened by the use of special coatings.

As a result, we see an extremely polar distribution of pluses and minuses: all the pluses relate to the external effect, all the minuses - to the convenience in everyday use. This makes the "chocolate" design a perfect illustration of the adage "beauty requires sacrifice".

Sweets of the future

Over the past two years, an incredible number of "chocolate" players have appeared. And although things like the following are said about each of them: “There are no buttons - the surface of the glass feels the touch of your fingers, the sensor icons glow, and in the depths a path of dark blue lights runs behind the movement of your finger. When you look at it at dusk, you lose your will,” – it is obvious to everyone that such a design has already begun to become boring. What will replace him?

Today, there is one interesting contender for this role. These are touch screens. The situation is very similar: by themselves, such displays have been present in portable technology for more than a decade, but the appearance of the iPhone attracted everyone's attention to them, made them "fashionable".

You can immediately remember Cowon D2.

It is difficult to accuse the Korean company of copying - the announcement of the iPhone and D2 took place almost simultaneously, but it is still difficult for observers and journalists to refrain from parallels. The Chinese Teclast followed the Cowon trail,

and then other manufacturers from mainland China.

Onda VX858 - there's nothing to say here ...

LG duplicated its Prada touchscreen phone with a similar player.

The iriver w10 MP4 player, also with a touch screen, should be released this summer.

The touch screen actually combines both "magic" elements: the "magic" display and the "magic" keys. This makes it a natural replacement for "chocolate", and the likely success of the iPhone should spur interest in such solutions. At the same time, the pros and cons of touch displays are about the same, except that their strength is flexibility and customization.

So with a high degree of probability, we can expect a waterfall of "iPhone-style" players in the near future.

Chocolate players

For any mobile technology, design is an extremely sensitive issue. This is not surprising: in spite of everything, the majority of buyers choose their phone, player, and even camera according to their “clothes”.

n-series iriver and Samsung YP-F1 owe their popularity to design

And creative work, the work of a designer in our time is much more expensive than the work of the same engineer. Especially in portable electronics, because designers here literally walk on a knife edge: if you create something too original, “people won’t understand”, if you strictly adhere to traditions, the device will be branded as “boring”. And you also need to remember about ergonomics, and do not forget that your creation should fit all the necessary electronic filling without any problems. In general, the task is not easy.

This is probably why cloning, copying, design "based on" have long and firmly established themselves in the portable industry. No sooner does one company or another create something fresh and successful than a lot of imitators relegate it to the category of “form factors”. You don't have to look far for examples: there are Motorola RAZR phones, Casio Exilim cameras, and iPod nano players.

It's hard to blame the developers for this, after all, as a result, an interesting design idea becomes available to the consumer in a greater variety of options. On the other hand, such an approach can quickly turn an entire industry into a sanctuary for Dolly sheep - this happened with mid-priced MP3 players, it is not easy to find something fundamentally different from nano now.

But at the present time it is already a given, with which nothing can be done. It remains only to observe the development of events and try to find the difference between the models appearing on the market, sometimes similar to each other like two drops of water.

We've previously looked at offerings on the market that look similar to the iPod nano. Today's material is not devoted to the form factor, but rather a narrow design technique that mainly affects the controls. Nevertheless, its use makes devices of even different classes related to each other in terms of consumer perception. We are talking about the design, which has already managed to stick the nickname "chocolate".

Name history

The roots of the name go back to a series of LG cell phones under the general name "Chocolate". As usual, the Korean company was by no means the first to use such a design. But powerful advertising, brand awareness and the fact that such a design was used for the first time in phones, and phones are the most massive and well-known product from portable technology, all this eventually made the LG trademark a household name.

The successful name also played its role, it turned out, in the truest sense of the word, delicious, gave room for playing around in articles and headlines, echoed the appearance and size of the devices, and was memorable.

LG Chocolate's design has inspired several mobile phone manufacturers to use this technique, but it's not a mass phenomenon here. Conversely, among MP3 and MP4 players, the "chocolate" design spread like wildfire, only a small part of manufacturers (among them, paradoxically, LG itself) escaped the temptation to follow fashion trends.

Among the "chocolate" players you can find Jukeboxes, devices on 1" drives, flash MP3 players, MP4 players, and HDD-PMP. These are products of both Korean and Chinese, European and American companies. Many of them can hardly be called LG clones or “inspired” products. they were announced at the same time, or even much earlier than the phones of the Korean company. But their modest announcements were drowned in the advertising hype around "chocolates".

Technical details

What is "chocolate design"? Technically, to be included in this category, the player must have a touch control, covered on top with a translucent material with a glossy, mirror-like surface (usually acrylic, but glass is also used). The "canonical" option also requires the use of LED backlighting for key indicators and control surfaces.

In sum, all this gives a pretty strong "wow" effect. In the off state, any controls are not visible. And when you turn on the previously empty surface, as if by magic, luminous key indicators appear. The effect is related to the rather ancient “magic mirror”, when an OLED display also “magically” appeared on the mirror surface (in fact, under it). It is not surprising that today these two techniques are often used in pairs. The main psychological effect is the effect of transformation: just before the audience there was an absolutely dead, empty mirror surface, and suddenly it came to life, an image appeared on it, keys. It looks like a trick, it looks very futuristic, especially for people who are not tech-savvy.

It is implemented quite simply and inexpensively. You mainly need three details: touch keys or surfaces that have become a fairly massive component today, penny backlight LEDs and an acrylic plastic case or plate with a semi-mirror glossy surface.

One of the "chocolate" players, Samsung YP-K5, from the inside (photo from pcpop.com)

The cheapness and availability of all these elements make the creation of "magic" players today affordable even for small Chinese firms.

Start

The first player to use some sort of "chocolate" effect was, oddly enough, the iPod. It's strange, because it has practically disappeared from people's memory, which is not typical for Apple products. Meanwhile, the third generation iPod had two of the three key features - touch controls and LED backlighting.

Four touch keys were located below the display and were illuminated by a red LED. True, the case was not semi-mirror, and the keys were clearly visible even in the off state. In addition, the iPod was traditionally white, while later most of the "chocolate" devices were black.

Characteristically, one of Apple's PR photos, showing the iPod 3G in the dark with the backlit keys, was circulating the internet as a picture of a "new black iPod".

In this way, the general public was able to feel the potential of the solution "red glowing indicators on a black glossy background" even before the manufacturers. But the black iPod 3G never showed up.

Introduced in April 2003 (nearly two years before the announcement of the LG phone), in the summer of 2004 the third generation was replaced by the fourth series. It no longer had "chocolate" keys, they were replaced by the well-proven iPod mini Click-wheel. Probably, it was the latter that overshadowed its predecessor, erasing the touch-sensitive iPod from history. However, the “chocolate” baton was picked up by other manufacturers.

The first "chocolate"

The first of these was the Japanese Olympus. The company has been a recognized authority in digital voice recorders for many years, first analog, then digital. Therefore, the appearance of its MP3-players in the assortment was perceived with interest, since the product categories are not too far from each other. The flagship model was supposed to be the MR-100, a device with a microdrive, a classmate of the hit iPod mini. In it, Olympus applied the whole range of design techniques, later called "chocolate".

The front panel of the player was one absolutely flat plate, impenetrably black while the device was turned off. When turned on, it came to life and showed the user's astonished gaze an inverted monochrome red-backlit LCD and also red-lit key and scroll bar indicators.

The MR-100 control panel is the work of the "bison" touch control, the company Sinaptics (photo from rockbox.org)

It is worth noting that the technique of "bright red LEDs on a black background" was repeatedly played up in the 80s in American popular culture, in particular, in science fiction series and films.

The "star" of the Knight Rider series, popular in the US and Europe in the 80s, the "intelligent" Kitt car was remembered for its combination of glossy black color and bright red LED

There he illustrated precisely futuristic motifs, the technique of the future. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the Japanese novelty aroused keen interest. As usual, the nickname “iPod killer” (in this case, the iPod mini killer) immediately stuck to it.

After the device appeared in the flesh, the enthusiasm subsided. Olympus diligently went through all the rakes that ruined other "iPod killers" before and after it.

Functionally, the MR-100 was a mini copy and was similarly devoid of any additional functionality, be it a radio or a voice recorder. Music was recorded on the device, of course, through unstable and inconvenient proprietary software. There were other “jambs”: the headphone jack was inconveniently located on the side of the player, with the basic firmware the device had a very low sound volume. By themselves, all these sins could be tolerated, but not against the background of the iPod, which, moreover, was cheaper.

Marketing support was also rather weak. As a result, sales of the device, especially in the US, were insignificant. In 2005, Olympus was hit by a crisis that required the shedding of redundant divisions and concentrating on the company's key digital photography market. The MP3 direction, closed in November 2005, also went under the knife. That is, the MR-100 managed to get off the assembly line even before the first announcement of the "chocolate" LG phone, which borrowed, voluntarily or involuntarily, the main features of the Japanese.

Underrated Tuny8

At the turn of 2004-2005, when the Olympus MR-100 was just appearing on the market, a company on the other side of the Korea Strait developed a very similar device. Only, unlike its Japanese counterpart, Dynetel Tuny8 was built on flash memory.

The first photos of the Korean prototype appeared a little later than the Olympus announcements, which makes Dynetel (more precisely, the design company that created this design for Dynetel) suspect of some plagiarism. On the other hand, Tuny8 had a number of differences, for example, its keys were not backlit, but were marked with paint on the surface of the front panel. So perhaps there was an idea "in the air" here. After all, similar ideas have repeatedly slipped before in the design of remote controls and in various concepts.

At the beginning of 2005, the Tuny8 was an interesting device, ahead of its time in many ways. In addition to the "chocolate" design, he carried the motifs of the first generation iPod nano, which then had almost a year before the announcement. A color display, support for MPEG4 video, USB 2.0 and a USB host - this set seriously raised the device above its classmates.

However, he was not lucky enough to be born "to a poor family" and at the wrong time. The beginning of 2005 was the time of players on microdrives, expensive flash devices were not popular. The small caliber of Dynetel did not allow her to spin it on her own. As a result, Tuny8 lasted as a prototype for almost a year, before the introduction of the iPod nano.

Then it was finally noticed, and it began to appear on sale in different countries and under different brands (and, of course, with the stigma of nano-clone, and later Chocolate-clone).

Reviewers couldn't resist comparing the Tuny8 to the iPod nano, even though the latter came out almost a year later

Unfortunately, the origin affected the quality, it was unstable, the sensors often failed, there were problems with a high level of marriage. As a result, the innovative Dynetel model was subsequently safely forgotten.

Design takes on a name

Thus, by December 2005, when the first information about LG Chocolate, then called Cyon, became available, "chocolate" design in one form or another had already been present on the MP3 player market for more than two years.

But that doesn't change the fact that LG's phone was the catalyst for this design to move from niche experimentation to mainstream form factors.

Dutch School

Samsung and Philips are its most famous fans. The Dutch generally presented their models in this style almost simultaneously with LG, which again suggests that we are not copying, but similar thinking.

This is also indicated by the 2003 Philips Jukebox HDD100.

Touch control has not yet been observed there, but the love for "black-black", as well as the desire to "hide" the display and control on the front panel, is impossible not to notice. So, most likely, the European company came up with such a design on their own (well, maybe a little sideways glance at the Olympus MR-100).

At the end of 2005, Philips introduced two models - the Jukebox with 30 GB HDD6320 and the player with 1” HDD1420.

Both exploited motifs already known to us: a flat glossy front panel, impenetrable when turned off, key indicators and a display “appearing” on it when turned on. True, unlike Olympus and LG, the backlighting of the keys was blue. Both devices met with limited success due to overpricing, lackluster promotion, and the use of the MTP protocol in its early, feature-limited form. The HDD1420 model was especially uncompetitive; after the release of nano, there was no point in releasing it at all. Almost a year later, Philips introduced another device in the same style, but on flash memory, the SA9200.

He had all the shortcomings of his older brothers, which determined his limited sales.

Chocolate + nano

The SA9200 shows another idea that has been widely adopted - superimposing a "chocolate" design on the nano form factor. This technique was anticipated by Dynetel Tuny8, and in 2006-2007. such devices completely went "jambs". Compact, simple, strict and at the same time original, they are very popular. The main producers are Korea, where LG Chocolate became a super hit, and China imitating them.

Here are some of the smaller companies: Korean Median, CM-Tech, Technonia, Oracom, Chinese Teclast, BBK, Gemei, Taiwanese Coby.

Median chocolate machines

Chocolate players from CM-Tech and Technonia

Probably Korea's only "chocolate" Oracom MP4 players

A whole family of "chocolate" Coby players: Jukeboxes and devices on flash memory

Chocolates by Chinese BBK and Taiwanese Luxpro

Dynetel didn't leave the "chocolate" theme: Tuny9 MP4 player and Tuny11 nano-class player

Among major manufacturers, Samsung has already released two devices in this style: YP-K5 and its cheaper mass modification YP-K3.

The use of blue lighting brings them closer to Philips players. Logos aside, it's not easy to tell the SA9200 from the YP-K3 at first glance. But the Korean company is making much more efforts to promote their models, and their prices are more reasonable. Therefore, Samsung chocolates are more successful in sales.

The French-American RCA-Thomson could not resist the combination of gloss and illuminated sensors, releasing the Black Diamond model.

Here we see the blue backlighting again, although there are also original elements: a “faceted” shape of the case and indicators in the form of a crosshair. True, it is difficult to find a player on sale, apparently, it is more profitable to trade in cheap Chinese OEM devices now. Or maybe it's the wrong decision to build a device on an unfashionable now 1” 8 GB hard drive.

At this time, China is trying on a "chocolate" design for its MP4 players, because it is on them that they rely in the first place. More than one or two MP4 models in this design have already come out from the pen of designers and from the assembly lines of factories. Many have already moved into the category of public design and are offered by dozens of Chinese companies.

Pros and cons

The advantages and disadvantages of the "chocolate" design have already been the subject of numerous discussions, they are described and widely known. Its strengths - "magic", "wow" effect - have already been described above. Disadvantages include:

  • Lack of tactile feedback, which makes player control generally inconvenient, and even blindly impossible.
  • Houses & Apartments For Rent in Adabraka
  • Instances of incorrect operation of sensors are especially typical for models of the lower price range from little-known manufacturers.
  • Difficulties with driving in the cold (especially true for Russia).
  • Susceptibility of glossy finish to soiling (fingerprint magnet effect). In some models, for example, Samsung, it is weakened by the use of special coatings.

As a result, we see an extremely polar distribution of pluses and minuses: all the pluses relate to the external effect, all the minuses - to the convenience in everyday use. This makes the "chocolate" design a perfect illustration of the adage "beauty requires sacrifice".

Sweets of the future

Over the past two years, an incredible number of "chocolate" players have appeared. And although things like the following are said about each of them: “There are no buttons - the surface of the glass feels the touch of your fingers, the sensor icons glow, and in the depths a path of dark blue lights runs behind the movement of your finger. When you look at it at dusk, you lose your will,” – it is obvious to everyone that such a design has already begun to become boring. What will replace him?

Today, there is one interesting contender for this role. These are touch screens. The situation is very similar: by themselves, such displays have been present in portable technology for more than a decade, but the appearance of the iPhone attracted everyone's attention to them, made them "fashionable".

You can immediately remember Cowon D2.

It is difficult to accuse the Korean company of copying - the announcement of the iPhone and D2 took place almost simultaneously, but it is still difficult for observers and journalists to refrain from parallels. The Chinese Teclast followed the Cowon trail,

and then other manufacturers from mainland China.

Onda VX858 - there's nothing to say here ...

LG duplicated its Prada touchscreen phone with a similar player.

The iriver w10 MP4 player, also with a touch screen, should be released this summer.

The touch screen actually combines both "magic" elements: the "magic" display and the "magic" keys. This makes it a natural replacement for "chocolate", and the likely success of the iPhone should spur interest in such solutions. At the same time, the pros and cons of touch displays are about the same, except that their strength is flexibility and customization.

So with a high degree of probability, we can expect a waterfall of "iPhone-style" players in the near future.

Chocolate players

For any mobile technology, design is an extremely sensitive issue. This is not surprising: in spite of everything, the majority of buyers choose their phone, player, and even camera according to their “clothes”.

n-series iriver and Samsung YP-F1 owe their popularity to design

And creative work, the work of a designer in our time is much more expensive than the work of the same engineer. Especially in portable electronics, because designers here literally walk on a knife edge: if you create something too original, “people won’t understand”, if you strictly adhere to traditions, the device will be branded as “boring”. And you also need to remember about ergonomics, and do not forget that your creation should fit all the necessary electronic filling without any problems. In general, the task is not easy.

This is probably why cloning, copying, design "based on" have long and firmly established themselves in the portable industry. No sooner does one company or another create something fresh and successful than a lot of imitators relegate it to the category of “form factors”. You don't have to look far for examples: there are Motorola RAZR phones, Casio Exilim cameras, and iPod nano players.

It's hard to blame the developers for this, after all, as a result, an interesting design idea becomes available to the consumer in a greater variety of options. On the other hand, such an approach can quickly turn an entire industry into a sanctuary for Dolly sheep - this happened with mid-priced MP3 players, it is not easy to find something fundamentally different from nano now.

But at the present time it is already a given, with which nothing can be done. It remains only to observe the development of events and try to find the difference between the models appearing on the market, sometimes similar to each other like two drops of water.

We've previously looked at offerings on the market that look similar to the iPod nano. Today's material is not devoted to the form factor, but rather a narrow design technique that mainly affects the controls. Nevertheless, its use makes devices of even different classes related to each other in terms of consumer perception. We are talking about the design, which has already managed to stick the nickname "chocolate".

Name history

The roots of the name go back to a series of LG cell phones under the general name "Chocolate". As usual, the Korean company was by no means the first to use such a design. But powerful advertising, brand awareness and the fact that such a design was used for the first time in phones, and phones are the most massive and well-known product from portable technology, all this eventually made the LG trademark a household name.

The successful name also played its role, it turned out, in the truest sense of the word, delicious, gave room for playing around in articles and headlines, echoed the appearance and size of the devices, and was memorable.

LG Chocolate's design has inspired several mobile phone manufacturers to use this technique, but it's not a mass phenomenon here. Conversely, among MP3 and MP4 players, the "chocolate" design spread like wildfire, only a small part of manufacturers (among them, paradoxically, LG itself) escaped the temptation to follow fashion trends.

Among the "chocolate" players you can find Jukeboxes, devices on 1" drives, flash MP3 players, MP4 players, and HDD-PMP. These are products of both Korean and Chinese, European and American companies. Many of them can hardly be called LG clones or “inspired” products. they were announced at the same time, or even much earlier than the phones of the Korean company. But their modest announcements were drowned in the advertising hype around "chocolates".

Technical details

What is "chocolate design"? Technically, to be included in this category, the player must have a touch control, covered on top with a translucent material with a glossy, mirror-like surface (usually acrylic, but glass is also used). The "canonical" option also requires the use of LED backlighting for key indicators and control surfaces.

In sum, all this gives a pretty strong "wow" effect. In the off state, any controls are not visible. And when you turn on the previously empty surface, as if by magic, luminous key indicators appear. The effect is related to the rather ancient “magic mirror”, when an OLED display also “magically” appeared on the mirror surface (in fact, under it). It is not surprising that today these two techniques are often used in pairs. The main psychological effect is the effect of transformation: just before the audience there was an absolutely dead, empty mirror surface, and suddenly it came to life, an image appeared on it, keys. It looks like a trick, it looks very futuristic, especially for people who are not tech-savvy.

It is implemented quite simply and inexpensively. You mainly need three details: touch keys or surfaces that have become a fairly massive component today, penny backlight LEDs and an acrylic plastic case or plate with a semi-mirror glossy surface.

One of the "chocolate" players, Samsung YP-K5, from the inside (photo from pcpop.com)

The cheapness and availability of all these elements make the creation of "magic" players today affordable even for small Chinese firms.

Start

The first player to use some sort of "chocolate" effect was, oddly enough, the iPod. It's strange, because it has practically disappeared from people's memory, which is not typical for Apple products. Meanwhile, the third generation iPod had two of the three key features - touch controls and LED backlighting.

Four touch keys were located under the display and were illuminated by a red LED. True, the case was not semi-mirror, and the keys were clearly visible even in the off state. In addition, the iPod was traditionally white, while later most of the "chocolate" devices were black.

Characteristically, one of Apple's PR photos, showing the iPod 3G in the dark with the backlit keys, was circulating the internet as a picture of a "new black iPod".

In this way, the general public was able to feel the potential of the solution "red glowing indicators on a black glossy background" even before the manufacturers. But the black iPod 3G never showed up.

Introduced in April 2003 (nearly two years before the announcement of the LG phone), in the summer of 2004 the third generation was replaced by the fourth series. It no longer had "chocolate" keys, they were replaced by the well-proven iPod mini Click-wheel. Probably, it was the latter that overshadowed its predecessor, erasing the touch-sensitive iPod from history. However, the “chocolate” baton was picked up by other manufacturers.

The first "chocolate"

The first of these was the Japanese Olympus. The company has been a recognized authority in digital voice recorders for many years, first analog, then digital. Therefore, the appearance of its MP3-players in the assortment was perceived with interest, since the product categories are not too far from each other. The flagship model was supposed to be the MR-100, a device with a microdrive, a classmate of the hit iPod mini. In it, Olympus applied the whole range of design techniques, later called "chocolate".

The front panel of the player was one absolutely flat plate, impenetrably black while the device was turned off. When turned on, it came to life and showed the user's astonished gaze an inverted monochrome red-backlit LCD and also red-lit key and scroll bar indicators.

The MR-100 control panel is the work of the "bison" touch control, the company Sinaptics (photo from rockbox.org)

It is worth noting that the technique of "bright red LEDs on a black background" was repeatedly played up in the 80s in American popular culture, in particular, in science fiction series and films.

The "star" of the Knight Rider series, popular in the US and Europe in the 80s, the "intelligent" Kitt car was remembered for its combination of glossy black color and bright red LED

There he illustrated precisely futuristic motifs, the technique of the future. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the Japanese novelty aroused keen interest. As usual, the nickname “iPod killer” (in this case, the iPod mini killer) immediately stuck to it.

After the device appeared in the flesh, the enthusiasm subsided. Olympus diligently went through all the rakes that ruined other "iPod killers" before and after it.

Functionally, the MR-100 was a mini copy and was similarly devoid of any additional functionality, be it a radio or a voice recorder. Music was recorded on the device, of course, through unstable and inconvenient proprietary software. There were other “jambs”: the headphone jack was inconveniently located on the side of the player, with the basic firmware the device had a very low sound volume. By themselves, all these sins could be tolerated, but not against the background of the iPod, which, moreover, was cheaper.

Marketing support was also rather weak. As a result, sales of the device, especially in the US, were insignificant. In 2005, Olympus was hit by a crisis that required the shedding of redundant divisions and concentrating on the company's key digital photography market. The MP3 direction, closed in November 2005, also went under the knife. That is, the MR-100 managed to get off the assembly line even before the first announcement of the "chocolate" LG phone, which borrowed, voluntarily or involuntarily, the main features of the Japanese.

Underrated Tuny8

At the turn of 2004-2005, when the Olympus MR-100 was just appearing on the market, a company on the other side of the Korea Strait developed a very similar device. Only, unlike its Japanese counterpart, Dynetel Tuny8 was built on flash memory.

The first photos of the Korean prototype appeared a little later than the Olympus announcements, which makes Dynetel (more precisely, the design company that created this design for Dynetel) suspect of some plagiarism. On the other hand, Tuny8 had a number of differences, for example, its keys were not backlit, but were marked with paint on the surface of the front panel. So perhaps there was an idea "in the air" here. After all, similar ideas have repeatedly slipped before in the design of remote controls and in various concepts.

At the beginning of 2005, the Tuny8 was an interesting device, ahead of its time in many ways. In addition to the "chocolate" design, he carried the motifs of the first generation iPod nano, which then had almost a year before the announcement. A color display, support for MPEG4 video, USB 2.0 and a USB host - this set seriously raised the device above its classmates.

But that doesn't change the fact that LG's phone was the catalyst for this design to move from niche experimentation to mainstream form factors.

Dutch School

Samsung and Philips are its most famous fans. The Dutch generally presented their models in this style almost simultaneously with LG, which again suggests that we are not copying, but similar thinking.

This is also indicated by the 2003 Philips Jukebox HDD100.

Touch control has not yet been observed there, but the love for "black-black", as well as the desire to "hide" the display and control on the front panel, is impossible not to notice. So, most likely, the European company came up with such a design on their own (well, maybe a little sideways glance at the Olympus MR-100).

At the end of 2005, Philips introduced two models - the Jukebox with 30 GB HDD6320 and the player with 1” HDD1420.

Both exploited motifs already known to us: a flat glossy front panel, impenetrable when turned off, key indicators and a display “appearing” on it when turned on. True, unlike Olympus and LG, the backlighting of the keys was blue. Both devices met with limited success due to overpricing, lackluster promotion, and the use of the MTP protocol in its early, feature-limited form. The HDD1420 model was especially uncompetitive; after the release of nano, there was no point in releasing it at all. Almost a year later, Philips introduced another device in the same style, but on flash memory, the SA9200.

He had all the shortcomings of his older brothers, which determined his limited sales.

Chocolate + nano

The SA9200 shows another idea that has been widely adopted - superimposing a "chocolate" design on the nano form factor. This technique was anticipated by Dynetel Tuny8, and in 2006-2007. such devices completely went "jambs". Compact, simple, strict and at the same time original, they are very popular. The main producers are Korea, where LG Chocolate became a super hit, and China imitating them.

Here are some of the smaller companies: Korean Median, CM-Tech, Technonia, Oracom, Chinese Teclast, BBK, Gemei, Taiwanese Coby.

Median chocolate machines

Chocolate players from CM-Tech and Technonia

Probably Korea's only "chocolate" Oracom MP4 players

A whole family of "chocolate" Coby players: Jukeboxes and devices on flash memory

Chocolates by Chinese BBK and Taiwanese Luxpro

Dynetel didn't leave the "chocolate" theme: Tuny9 MP4 player and Tuny11 nano-class player

Among major manufacturers, Samsung has already released two devices in this style: YP-K5 and its cheaper mass modification YP-K3.

The use of blue lighting brings them closer to Philips players. Logos aside, it's not easy to tell the SA9200 from the YP-K3 at first glance. But the Korean company is making much more efforts to promote their models, and their prices are more reasonable. Therefore, Samsung chocolates are more successful in sales.

The French-American RCA-Thomson could not resist the combination of gloss and illuminated sensors, releasing the Black Diamond model.

Here we see the blue backlighting again, although there are also original elements: a “faceted” shape of the case and indicators in the form of a crosshair. True, it is difficult to find a player on sale, apparently, it is more profitable to trade in cheap Chinese OEM devices now. Or maybe it's the wrong decision to build a device on an unfashionable now 1” 8 GB hard drive.

At this time, China is trying on a "chocolate" design for its MP4 players, because it is on them that they rely in the first place. More than one or two MP4 models in this design have already come out from the pen of designers and from the assembly lines of factories. Many have already moved into the category of public design and are offered by dozens of Chinese companies.

Pros and cons

The advantages and disadvantages of the "chocolate" design have already been the subject of numerous discussions, they are described and widely known. Its strengths - "magic", "wow" effect - have already been described above. Disadvantages include:

  • Lack of tactile feedback, which makes player control generally inconvenient, and even blindly impossible.
  • Houses & Apartments For Rent in Adabraka
  • Instances of incorrect operation of sensors are especially typical for models of the lower price range from little-known manufacturers.
  • Difficulties with driving in the cold (especially true for Russia).
  • Susceptibility of glossy finish to soiling (fingerprint magnet effect). In some models, for example, Samsung, it is weakened by the use of special coatings.

As a result, we see an extremely polar distribution of pluses and minuses: all the pluses relate to the external effect, all the minuses - to the convenience in everyday use. This makes the "chocolate" design a perfect illustration of the adage "beauty requires sacrifice".

Sweets of the future

Over the past two years, an incredible number of "chocolate" players have appeared. And although things like the following are said about each of them: “There are no buttons - the surface of the glass feels the touch of your fingers, the sensor icons glow, and in the depths a path of dark blue lights runs behind the movement of your finger. When you look at it at dusk, you lose your will,” – it is obvious to everyone that such a design has already begun to become boring. What will replace him?

Today, there is one interesting contender for this role. These are touch screens. The situation is very similar: by themselves, such displays have been present in portable technology for more than a decade, but the appearance of the iPhone attracted everyone's attention to them, made them "fashionable".

You can immediately remember Cowon D2.

It is difficult to accuse the Korean company of copying - the announcement of the iPhone and D2 took place almost simultaneously, but it is still difficult for observers and journalists to refrain from parallels. The Chinese Teclast followed the Cowon trail,

and then other manufacturers from mainland China.

Onda VX858 - there's nothing to say here ...

LG duplicated its Prada touchscreen phone with a similar player.

The iriver w10 MP4 player, also with a touch screen, should be released this summer.

The touch screen actually combines both "magic" elements: the "magic" display and the "magic" keys. This makes it a natural replacement for "chocolate", and the likely success of the iPhone should spur interest in such solutions. At the same time, the pros and cons of touch displays are about the same, except that their strength is flexibility and customization.

So with a high degree of probability, we can expect a waterfall of "iPhone-style" players in the near future.

Chocolate players

For any mobile technology, design is an extremely sensitive issue. This is not surprising: in spite of everything, the majority of buyers choose their phone, player, and even camera according to their “clothes”.

n-series iriver and Samsung YP-F1 owe their popularity to design

And creative work, the work of a designer in our time is much more expensive than the work of the same engineer. Especially in portable electronics, because designers here literally walk on a knife edge: if you create something too original, “people won’t understand”, if you strictly adhere to traditions, the device will be branded as “boring”. And you also need to remember about ergonomics, and do not forget that your creation should fit all the necessary electronic filling without any problems. In general, the task is not easy.

This is probably why cloning, copying, design "based on" have long and firmly established themselves in the portable industry. No sooner does one company or another create something fresh and successful than a lot of imitators relegate it to the category of “form factors”. You don't have to look far for examples: there are Motorola RAZR phones, Casio Exilim cameras, and iPod nano players.

It's hard to blame the developers for this, after all, as a result, an interesting design idea becomes available to the consumer in a greater variety of options. On the other hand, such an approach can quickly turn an entire industry into a sanctuary for Dolly sheep - this happened with mid-priced MP3 players, it is not easy to find something fundamentally different from nano now.

But at the present time it is already a given, with which nothing can be done. It remains only to observe the development of events and try to find the difference between the models appearing on the market, sometimes similar to each other like two drops of water.

We've previously looked at offerings on the market that look similar to the iPod nano. Today's material is not devoted to the form factor, but rather a narrow design technique that mainly affects the controls. Nevertheless, its use makes devices of even different classes related to each other in terms of consumer perception. We are talking about the design, which has already managed to stick the nickname "chocolate".

Name history

The roots of the name go back to a series of LG cell phones under the general name "Chocolate". As usual, the Korean company was by no means the first to use such a design. But powerful advertising, brand awareness and the fact that such a design was used for the first time in phones, and phones are the most massive and well-known product from portable technology, all this eventually made the LG trademark a household name.

The successful name also played its role, it turned out, in the truest sense of the word, delicious, gave room for playing around in articles and headlines, echoed the appearance and size of the devices, and was memorable.

LG Chocolate's design has inspired several mobile phone manufacturers to use this technique, but it's not a mass phenomenon here. Conversely, among MP3 and MP4 players, the "chocolate" design spread like wildfire, only a small part of manufacturers (among them, paradoxically, LG itself) escaped the temptation to follow fashion trends.

Among the "chocolate" players you can find Jukeboxes, devices on 1" drives, flash MP3 players, MP4 players, and HDD-PMP. These are products of both Korean and Chinese, European and American companies. Many of them can hardly be called LG clones or “inspired” products. they were announced at the same time, or even much earlier than the phones of the Korean company. But their modest announcements were drowned in the advertising hype around "chocolates".

Technical details

What is "chocolate design"? Technically, to be included in this category, the player must have a touch control, covered on top with a translucent material with a glossy, mirror-like surface (usually acrylic, but glass is also used). The "canonical" option also requires the use of LED backlighting for key indicators and control surfaces.

In sum, all this gives a rather strong "wow" effect. In the off state, any controls are not noticeable. And when you turn on the previously empty surface, as if by magic, luminous key indicators appear. The effect is related to the rather ancient “magic mirror”, when an OLED display also “magically” appeared on the mirror surface (in fact, under it). It is not surprising that today these two techniques are often used in pairs. The main psychological effect is the effect of transformation: just before the audience there was an absolutely dead, empty mirror surface, and suddenly it came to life, an image appeared on it, keys. It looks like a trick, it looks very futuristic, especially for people who are not tech-savvy.

It is implemented quite simply and inexpensively. You mainly need three details: touch keys or surfaces that have become a fairly massive component today, penny backlight LEDs and an acrylic plastic case or plate with a semi-mirror glossy surface.

One of the "chocolate" players, Samsung YP-K5, from the inside (photo from pcpop.com)

The cheapness and availability of all these elements make the creation of "magic" players today affordable even for small Chinese firms.

Start

The first player to use some sort of "chocolate" effect was, oddly enough, the iPod. It's strange, because it has practically disappeared from people's memory, which is not typical for Apple products. Meanwhile, the third generation iPod had two of the three key features - touch controls and LED backlighting.

Four touch keys were located under the display and were illuminated by a red LED. True, the case was not semi-mirror, and the keys were clearly visible even in the off state. In addition, the iPod was traditionally white, while later most of the "chocolate" devices were black.

Characteristically, one of Apple's PR photos, showing the iPod 3G in the dark with the backlit keys, was circulating the internet as a picture of a "new black iPod".

In this way, the general public was able to feel the potential of the solution "red glowing indicators on a black glossy background" even before the manufacturers. But the black iPod 3G never showed up.

Introduced in April 2003 (nearly two years before the announcement of the LG phone), in the summer of 2004 the third generation was replaced by the fourth series. It no longer had "chocolate" keys, they were replaced by the well-proven iPod mini Click-wheel. Probably, it was the latter that overshadowed its predecessor, erasing the touch-sensitive iPod from history. However, the “chocolate” baton was picked up by other manufacturers.

The first "chocolate"

The first of these was the Japanese Olympus. The company has been a recognized authority in digital voice recorders for many years, first analog, then digital. Therefore, the appearance of its MP3-players in the assortment was perceived with interest, since the product categories are not too far from each other. The flagship model was supposed to be the MR-100, a device with a microdrive, a classmate of the hit iPod mini. In it, Olympus applied the whole range of design techniques, later called "chocolate".

The front panel of the player was one absolutely flat plate, impenetrably black while the device was turned off. When turned on, it came to life and showed the user's astonished gaze an inverted monochrome red-backlit LCD and also red-lit key and scroll bar indicators.

The MR-100 control panel is the work of the "bison" touch control, the company Sinaptics (photo from rockbox.org)

It is worth noting that the technique of "bright red LEDs on a black background" was repeatedly played up in the 80s in American popular culture, in particular, in science fiction series and films.

The "star" of the Knight Rider series, popular in the US and Europe in the 80s, the "intelligent" Kitt car was remembered for its combination of glossy black color and bright red LED

There he illustrated precisely futuristic motifs, the technique of the future. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the Japanese novelty aroused keen interest. As usual, the nickname “iPod killer” (in this case, the iPod mini killer) immediately stuck to it.

After the device appeared in the flesh, the enthusiasm subsided. Olympus diligently went through all the rakes that ruined other "iPod killers" before and after it.

Functionally, the MR-100 was a mini copy and was similarly devoid of any additional functionality, be it a radio or a voice recorder. Music was recorded on the device, of course, through unstable and inconvenient proprietary software. There were other “jambs”: the headphone jack was inconveniently located on the side of the player, with the basic firmware the device had a very low sound volume. By themselves, all these sins could be tolerated, but not against the background of the iPod, which, moreover, was cheaper.

Marketing support was also rather weak. As a result, sales of the device, especially in the US, were insignificant. In 2005, Olympus was hit by a crisis that required the shedding of redundant divisions and concentrating on the company's key digital photography market. The MP3 direction, closed in November 2005, also went under the knife. That is, the MR-100 managed to get off the assembly line even before the first announcement of the "chocolate" LG phone, which borrowed, voluntarily or involuntarily, the main features of the Japanese.

Underrated Tuny8

At the turn of 2004-2005, when the Olympus MR-100 was just appearing on the market, a company on the other side of the Korea Strait developed a very similar device. Only, unlike its Japanese counterpart, Dynetel Tuny8 was built on flash memory.

The first photos of the Korean prototype appeared a little later than the Olympus announcements, which makes Dynetel (more precisely, the design company that created this design for Dynetel) suspect of some plagiarism. On the other hand, Tuny8 had a number of differences, for example, its keys were not backlit, but were marked with paint on the surface of the front panel. So perhaps there was an idea "in the air" here. After all, similar ideas have repeatedly slipped before in the design of remote controls and in various concepts.

At the beginning of 2005, the Tuny8 was an interesting device, ahead of its time in many ways. In addition to the "chocolate" design, he carried the motifs of the first generation iPod nano, which then had almost a year before the announcement. A color display, support for MPEG4 video, USB 2.0 and a USB host - this set seriously raised the device above its classmates.

However, he was not lucky enough to be born "to a poor family" and at the wrong time. The beginning of 2005 was the time of players on microdrives, expensive flash devices were not popular. The small caliber of Dynetel did not allow her to spin it on her own. As a result, Tuny8 lasted as a prototype for almost a year, before the introduction of the iPod nano.

Then it was finally noticed, and it began to appear on sale in different countries and under different brands (and, of course, with the stigma of nano-clone, and later Chocolate-clone).

Reviewers couldn't resist comparing the Tuny8 to the iPod nano, even though the latter came out almost a year later

Unfortunately, the origin affected the quality, it was unstable, the sensors often failed, there were problems with a high level of marriage. As a result, the innovative Dynetel model was subsequently safely forgotten.

Design takes on a name

Thus, by December 2005, when the first information about LG Chocolate, then called Cyon, became available, "chocolate" design in one form or another had already been present on the MP3 player market for more than two years.

But that doesn't change the fact that LG's phone was the catalyst for this design to move from niche experimentation to mainstream form factors.

Dutch School

Samsung and Philips are its most famous fans. The Dutch generally presented their models in this style almost simultaneously with LG, which again suggests that we are not copying, but similar thinking.

This is also indicated by the 2003 Philips Jukebox HDD100.

Touch control has not yet been observed there, but the love for "black-black", as well as the desire to "hide" the display and control on the front panel, is impossible not to notice. So, most likely, the European company came up with such a design on their own (well, maybe a little sideways glance at the Olympus MR-100).

At the end of 2005, Philips introduced two models - the Jukebox with 30 GB HDD6320 and the player with 1” HDD1420.

Both exploited motifs already known to us: a flat glossy front panel, impenetrable when turned off, key indicators and a display “appearing” on it when turned on. True, unlike Olympus and LG, the backlighting of the keys was blue. Both devices met with limited success due to overpricing, lackluster promotion, and the use of the MTP protocol in its early, feature-limited form. The HDD1420 model was especially uncompetitive; after the release of nano, there was no point in releasing it at all. Almost a year later, Philips introduced another device in the same style, but on flash memory, the SA9200.

He had all the shortcomings of his older brothers, which determined his limited sales.

Chocolate + nano

The SA9200 shows another idea that has been widely adopted - superimposing a "chocolate" design on the nano form factor. This technique was anticipated by Dynetel Tuny8, and in 2006-2007. such devices completely went "jambs". Compact, simple, strict and at the same time original, they are very popular. The main producers are Korea, where LG Chocolate became a super hit, and China imitating them.

Here are some of the smaller companies: Korean Median, CM-Tech, Technonia, Oracom, Chinese Teclast, BBK, Gemei, Taiwanese Coby.

Median chocolate machines

Chocolate players from CM-Tech and Technonia

Probably Korea's only "chocolate" Oracom MP4 players

A whole family of "chocolate" Coby players: Jukeboxes and devices on flash memory

Chocolates by Chinese BBK and Taiwanese Luxpro

Dynetel didn't leave the "chocolate" theme: Tuny9 MP4 player and Tuny11 nano-class player

Among major manufacturers, Samsung has already released two devices in this style: YP-K5 and its cheaper mass modification YP-K3.

The use of blue lighting brings them closer to Philips players. Logos aside, it's not easy to tell the SA9200 from the YP-K3 at first glance. But the Korean company is making much more efforts to promote their models, and their prices are more reasonable. Therefore, Samsung chocolates are more successful in sales.

The French-American RCA-Thomson could not resist the combination of gloss and illuminated sensors, releasing the Black Diamond model.

Here we see the blue backlighting again, although there are also original elements: a “faceted” shape of the case and indicators in the form of a crosshair. True, it is difficult to find a player on sale, apparently, it is more profitable to trade in cheap Chinese OEM devices now. Or maybe it's the wrong decision to build a device on an unfashionable now 1” 8 GB hard drive.

At this time, China is trying on a "chocolate" design for its MP4 players, because it is on them that they rely in the first place. More than one or two MP4 models in this design have already come out from the pen of designers and from the assembly lines of factories. Many have already moved into the category of public design and are offered by dozens of Chinese companies.

Pros and cons

The advantages and disadvantages of the "chocolate" design have already been the subject of numerous discussions, they are described and widely known. Its strengths - "magic", "wow" effect - have already been described above. Disadvantages include:

  • Lack of tactile feedback, which makes player control generally inconvenient, and even blindly impossible.
  • Instances of incorrect operation of sensors are especially typical for models of the lower price range from little-known manufacturers.
  • Difficulties with driving in the cold (especially true for Russia).
  • Susceptibility of glossy finish to soiling (fingerprint magnet effect). In some models, for example, Samsung, it is weakened by the use of special coatings.
  • Lack of tactile feedback, which makes player control generally inconvenient, and even blindly impossible.
  • Houses & Apartments For Rent in Adabraka Houses & Apartments For Rent in Adabraka
  • Instances of incorrect operation of sensors are especially typical for models of the lower price range from little-known manufacturers.
  • Difficulties with driving in the cold (especially true for Russia).
  • Susceptibility of glossy finish to soiling (fingerprint magnet effect). In some models, for example, Samsung, it is weakened by the use of special coatings.
  • As a result, we see an extremely polar distribution of pluses and minuses: all the pluses relate to the external effect, all the minuses - to the convenience in everyday use. This makes the "chocolate" design a perfect illustration of the adage "beauty requires sacrifice".

    Sweets of the future

    Over the past two years, an incredible number of "chocolate" players have appeared. And although things like the following are said about each of them: “There are no buttons - the surface of the glass feels the touch of your fingers, the sensor icons glow, and in the depths a path of dark blue lights runs behind the movement of your finger. When you look at it at dusk, you lose your will,” – it is obvious to everyone that such a design has already begun to become boring. What will replace him?

    Today, there is one interesting contender for this role. These are touch screens. The situation is very similar: by themselves, such displays have been present in portable technology for more than a decade, but the appearance of the iPhone attracted everyone's attention to them, made them "fashionable".

    You can immediately remember Cowon D2.

    It is difficult to accuse the Korean company of copying - the announcement of the iPhone and D2 took place almost simultaneously, but it is still difficult for observers and journalists to refrain from parallels. The Chinese Teclast followed the Cowon trail,

    and then other manufacturers from mainland China.

    Onda VX858 - there's nothing to say here ...

    LG duplicated its Prada touchscreen phone with a similar player.

    The iriver w10 MP4 player, also with a touch screen, should be released this summer.

    The touch screen actually combines both "magic" elements: the "magic" display and the "magic" keys. This makes it a natural replacement for "chocolate", and the likely success of the iPhone should spur interest in such solutions. At the same time, the pros and cons of touch displays are about the same, except that their strength is flexibility and customization.

    So with a high degree of probability, we can expect a waterfall of "iPhone-style" players in the near future.