If you want to listen to music on an iPod, you have to fill the device with music. You either rip the music from a CD that you purchased, or you purchase music online and move it to the device. Either way you have to pay for the music player, pay for the music, and make sure that the music is properly loaded on the device. That can add up to a big cost and a lot of effort.
The Myine Electronics Company thinks they have a better way. Why not automatically record music from the radio, cut out the commercials, let you choose the songs you want to keep, and automatically transfer them to a digital music player? That’s what the Abbee commercial-free music system is all about. It is such a unique idea that we were excited about taking a look at the Abbee.
As shown in Figure 1, the Abbee comes in a good-sized box.
Figure 1: The Abbee in its box
The contents of the box are shown in Figures 2 and 3. Figure 2 shows the portable player called “Music Lock,” a pair of earbuds with hard ear plugs, an AUX connect cable, a lanyard for the Music Lock, the power cable, and an external FM antenna. Figure 3 shows included User Guide, Quick Start Guide, and some additional documentation.
Figure 2: The cables and accessories
Figure 3: The Abbee documentation
The Abbee itself is shown in Figure 4. It is a square black and silver device that is 9.6 x 5.8 x 5.1 inches (244 x 129 x 147 mm) and weighs 4.1 lbs (1.9 kg).
The Abbee is built to be simple and easy to use. It is, however, a very unique device, and this leads to a lot of questions about how it works. I guess that the folks at Myine anticipated this because when plugging the Abbee in for the first time, it talks to you. “Hi, I’m Abbee,” it says in a lilting female voice. Abbee then goes on to describe what the device is and what it does. Unfortunately, even after listening to Abbee, we were still left with many questions about Abbee. The first was how to get the Abbee girl to stop talking. We found in the Quick Start Guide that we needed to press the Tune button to exit the introduction. You’d think Abbee would have told us that!
Actually, the set up was very easy. You just insert the Music Lock into the top of the Abbee, connect the power adapter and the FM antenna, and turn on the Abbee. Figure 5 shows the back of the Abbee where you can see (from left to right) the Antenna jack, RCA out, the DC plug, the Aux In, and a headphone jack. The RCA out can be used to add more speakers. The Aux In port can be used to hook up a CD player.
Next to the headphone jack is a mini-USB port that is marked ”Update.” You might think that this would be used to attach to a computer for an update, but the User Guide clearly states that this port is “Not used. Do not connect to a computer. We use this connector at the factory to set up the initial product firmware.” We found this a little weird, but not really problematic for the end user.
All of the ports on the back of the Abbee are clearly marked. Above the ports you will also find the clearly marked On/Off Power button.
Once you have everything hooked up and turned on, you simply press the Mode button until the word “Live” appears in the display. The Abbee has an FM tuner built-in, so you can then use the Tune knob to set the Abbee to your favorite FM station. The Mode button and the Tune knob are both shown in Figure 4. In that Figure, you can also see a Favorite button that is marked with a star, five preset buttons that can be used to program your favorite FM stations, and a record button.
[nextpage title=”Using the Abbee”]
Once everything is hooked up, the Abbee will start recording itself. You don’t have to do anything. The Abbee will build a music library from the station it is set on and will automatically record songs. This usually takes about 24 hours, so you have to be a little patient. After 24 hours, you can listen to the recorded music.
The Abbee has built-in speakers that have good sound quality. You can listen to your recorded music on the Abbee by pressing the Mode button until the screen says “Play,” as seen in Figure 6.
Figure 6: The Screen on the Abbee
What you will hear is the music that Abbee recorded from the radio with the commercials removed. In our tests, the Abbee was amazingly accurate. The only time that it recorded the disk jockey’s voice was when there was music in the background, as in a musical intro. This happened only occasionally, so it really wasn’t bothersome.
When listening to recorded music collected by the Abbee, you can mark any song you like as a Favorite by pressing the Favorite button on the top of the device. The unit responds by locking that song into memory. Pressing and holding down the Favorites button will tell Abbee that you don’t like the song. It will respond by immediately deleting it.
The Abbee’s Music Lock portable player is shown in Figure 7. As you can see, it is a simple device with a small silver handle. The connector that is seen attached to the Music Lock can be removed or used to attach the included lanyard.
The Music Lock is easy to use. Press the large button in the middle to turn it on. Press the same button to pause the music. Press and hold to turn the device off. The status of the device is shown by a blue play light and a red pause light on the button.
Figure 7: The Music Lock
The forward and back buttons are clearly marked, as are the + and – buttons for the volume. In between the forward and back buttons is one shaped like a large star. This button functions like the star button on the Abbee. Press to lock in a favorite song. Press and hold to delete a song. There is an audio beep to le
t you know that the function was accomplished.
The bottom of the Music Lock is shown in Figure 8 where you see a Lock slider button that keeps the unit from being turned on or off inadvertently, a standard headphone jack, and a reset button.
Figure 8: The Music Lock bottom
The real beauty of the Abbee is two-fold.
- The music it records is totally free. There is no charge for the music and there are no subscription fees.
- Everything is done automatically, so you don’t have to worry about uploading or downloading music. In fact, you don’t even need a computer.
When using the Abbee you can choose to listen to live radio or the music that Abbee has recorded. As you mark your favorites, you will fill the Music Lock with music you likem yet the Abbee is always in control. You cannot see what songs you have recorded. You cannot listen to a certain song at a given time.
You may also have to be somewhat trusting, because there will be times when you cannot really know what Abbee is doing. Although syncing of the Music Lock was generally fairly speedy, there were times when the syncing of the Music Lock took over two hours. We also had times when the Abbee said in big blue letters that it was “EMPTY”. We realized that everything had been transferred to the Music Lock, and were quite surprised that they were deleted from the Abbee. Did that mean we had to record for another 24 hours? There were also times when the Abbee said “WAIT,” and we didn’t know what we were waiting for.
When we wanted to play live music for the Abbee to record, but we didn’t want to listen to it, we pressed the Volume button to turn on the mute function. We quickly found that Abbee displayed “MUTE” in large blue letters, as shown in Figure 9. We found that a bit aggravating. We would have rather seen it display the time and put the mute notification in smaller letters. In Figure 9, you will also see that the Abbee screen always says “Myine” on the right side. Myine obviously thinks this is good advertising, but we found it aggravating and a waste of screen space.
Figure 9: The Mute indicator
You can record about 500 songs on the Music Lock. We could not find any documentation for how many songs you can record on the Abbee itself.
As you work with the Abbee, older content is replaced with newer content. The Abbee will record newer content over the older content on the Abbee whether it is locked or unlocked. Only locked music that has been transferred to the Music Lock will not be deleted from the Music Lock unless you press and hold the star button on the Music Lock to delete it. We would have preferred to have our favorite music available on the Abbee as well as the Music Lock, so we could listen to music we like at home as well as on the road.
For a device that is based on simplicity, the Abbee has a pretty complex system. Having read the user guide from front to back, we still don’t understand how it all works.
One complaint we had is that you can never actually see how much of the music is marked as favorites, so you don’t know how much room is left to record new music.
It you want to record talk shows, you can do so by pressing the record button to start manual recording during which the Abbee records everything on that radio station. You must also press the record button to stop the recording. The Abbee is only capable of doing 30 minutes of manual recording, which is not enough for most radio talk shows.
Here are the basic specifications of the Abbee:
- Base unit dimensions: 9.6 x 5.8 x 5.1 inches (244 x 129 x 147 mm)
- Base unit weight: 4.1 lbs (1.9 kg)
- Power cord length: 5.5 ft (1.7 m)
- Frequency response: 30 Hz – 20,000 Hz
- RMS power: 3 W x 2
- Speaker size: 3” (76 mm) in diameter each
- FM range: 87.5 MHz -108 MHz
- Power consumption: less than 3.5 W (on) or less than 0.6 W (standby)
- Display size: 0.75 x 3 inches (19 x 76 mm)
- Music Lock dimensions: 1.6 x 2.4 x 0.1 inches (41 x 12 x 60 mm)
- Music Lock weight with battery: 0.8 oz (23 g)
- Music Lock headphone output: 1/8” (3.5 mm)
- Music Lock battery type: Rechargeable lithium ion
- Music Lock Time to charge: Approximately 4 h
- Music Lock playback time: Up to 8 h
- Music Lock memory: 2 GB (up to 500 songs)
- Earphone cord length: 49” (1.25 m)
- More Information: https://myine.com
- MSRP in the US: USD 99
The Abbee gives you an easy way to record radio. It lets you choose the music you like without the DJ chatter and commercials. It also gives you the ability to play that music on a portable player that works quite well. Since Abbee does all the recording for you, you don’t have to worry about uploading and downloading. In fact, you don’t even have to have a computer at all.
When you consider that the Abbee is an FM radio and a portable music player, it really gives you a lot. When you compare the price of the USD 99 Abbee to that of an iPod, a set of speakers for the iPod, and the music you must purchase to put on the iPod, the Abbee starts to look very economical.
After the initial purchase of the Abbee player, there is no additional cost for music. If you have one or two FM stations in your area that play music you like, Abbee will automatically grab that music and let you play it at any time and in any place.
Although the Abbee is quite useable as it is, we found the way it works to be a little complex. We also think that with a few more features, the Abbee could be even better. For instance, it would be nice to be able to separate the music from different stations, so you could play back country music or jazz or oldies as the mood hits you. It would also be nice to know how much room is left on the Abbee or the Music Lock. We would also like to save favorites on the Abbee itself so they would not be overwritten.
The Abbee is good for people who don’t have the patience or technical knowledge to get involved with downloading music. If you just let it do its thing, you will probably be happy with it. If you try to figure out how it all works, you will probably be frustrated.
- Provides no-cost music
- No subscription fees
- Does a very good job of removing DJ chatter and commercials
- Built-in FM radio
- Good speakers
- Good portable player
- Everything done automatically
- No computer needed
- The confusing way music is recorded, deleted & saved
- Music deleted from the Abbee when transferred to Music Lock
- 30 minute maximum with on-demand recording
- Once you have marked Favorites on the Abbee, you must plug in the Music Lock to save them or they may be overwritten
- The requirement to plug in the Music Lock to save “Favorites” marked on the Abbee
- No way to see the amount of music recorded
- No way to select songs to play