JVC XM-PX5 Review

Tony Wang ([email protected])
January 2000


Well, after two and a half weeks with the Panasonic SJ-MJ75, somebody at work decided to lift it off of me. Annoying, very annoying, as I was really enjoying the unit. I guess it was too small--- fit right into someone else's pocket. But enough of that.

So last Wednesday, having had a particularly rough day at work, I decided it was time to replace the Panasonic. I had decided already to get a different portable, simply because I don't like to buy the same thing twice ;-) So I surfed around the web a bit and ended up purchasing a JVC/Victor XM-PX5. I figured I'd go from the world's smallest and lightest to the world's second smallest and lightest.

I ordered a white XM-PX5 through www.minidiscweb.com, which is [noticeably] absent from the minidisc.org distributor page [Not any more! -eaw]. Let me tell you straight off, the service is very good. The unit was shipped to me from HK via 3-day FedEx. Payment was handled via i-escrow, and everything went off without a hitch. Shipping was free (wow!) and the unit costed $279-- they charge the same thing for the SJ-MJ75. For a first time purchase I was very happy. $279 is a great price, for one, and when you consider that shipping was free--- We're talking 3-day FedEx from Hong Kong to New York City. Now that's a deal.

Chassis So on to the info on this little baby. It is very light and feels very sturdy (even the clamshell two-step ejection mechanism). It is a little shorter in height than the SJ-MJ75 but definitely thicker (14.4mm, ~3 MDs high). I can foresee, however, the white finish getting scratched over time. The 'lunar white' XM-PX5 has 'S&S' emblazoned on the front and back, what that means I have no idea. Altogether the whole thing looks very elegant.

The unit opens on the right side (vs. left side on MJ75). The open lever is a simple silver slide. On the same [right] side is play/pause and stop. Here's where it gets a little funky. On the top right is the headphone jack, and at the top center is a 3-position slide switch. Next to this are two buttons. The switch goes from hold to search to volume; the two buttons on the left control either search or volume. Kind of clever as it eliminates buttons, but kind of annoying if you lose the remote. I really think nothing of it, as I don't plan on using the chassis controls or losing the remote, so...

Remote Speaking of the remote, this is the best remote i have ever used. Sorry, Sony die-hards, this thing beats out the stick. They call it a 'lipstick remote' and it's a very good term; the remote is about the same dimensions as a lipstick case (unlike Sony). The top side features a headphone jack and the inbound wire, akin to the newer Aiwa units. Why doesn't everybody do this? This really is the way to go. The top third of the stick features six buttons, each paired off. The first row is volume, then display / play mode, then search. On the opposite side of the stick is stop and DSP control. The bottom slightly-more-than half of the stick is the display. Now this is the cool part; the whole bottom half twists a quarter turn. Turn it one way and you see 'HOLD'... turn it the other and you see the display. Very cool! The display is very well lit and the text is very easy to read- much, much better than the see-thru Panasonic remote.

The play/pause button, by the way, is the bottom of the stick. So you can grab the whole thing and pretend you're setting off bombs, taking photos... Either way it's a very handy spot for the most used button on the whole thing.

There is no clip on the actual remote; JVC provides a wire runner which has a clip on it. The wire runner can hold either or both the remote wire and headphone wire, and can be moved along the wire. The actual clip could be a bit bigger... It's pretty small but grips tightly (for now...)

Sound With the 'Active Clear Bass', it sounds very good. A bit richer than the Panasonic, but I have heard MZ-E95's with the 7-step bass/treble control, and that is the one to beat. Supplied headphones were decent, but the cord was too short (50cm)- I'm 6'4" and I like clipping remotes to my belt. With Sennheiser earbuds it sounded a little 'warmer'. The PX5 has the magic 'train' mode also, which I don't plan on using. The PX5 is definitely louder at max volume than the MJ75.

Power It took just over 2 hours to charge the battery. The charger, by the way, can charge both gumpack and NiMH AA size -- convenient! There is no supplied AC adapter (like the MJ75), but you can plug an optional one into the AA slave pack (unlike the MJ75). I guess this is handy if the PX5 is the only MD player you have and you use it at home or something, for me it is a non-issue.

Accessories Well, I've described the headphones (earbuds), the remote, and the charger. The only other things are the AA slave pack and the omnipresent MD sack. The slave pack is typical; it is semi-translucent iMac black. Too bad it's not white to match the unit, but whatever. The sack is nice, it's cloth with a (pseudo)leather MD patch on the front. It is big enough to hold the unit and three MDs.

Weird Stuff I've been making the PX5 sound pretty good so far, but there are a few weird things:

All in all? I think I like this better than the Panasonic SJ-MJ75. Not to say that the MJ75 is not an awesome unit! For me this one just seems a wee bit more polished. Appearance-wise they are both damn small, damn light, and look pretty damn cool. If I had to pick which looked cooler I'd go with MJ75. Sound is about the same with, IMHO, a slight edge going to the PX5. The kicker for me is the remote-- even after a few short hours I can tell this lipstick deal is far superior.

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