Playbutton – Album in a Button Badge


In this video I’m going to be taking a look at something that was discontinued only a few years ago. It’s the playbutton. Now before I go any further I’ve got to explain one thing. In the UK these are known as badges…. and these are buttons. However in the US, this is a button and that is why this device is called a playbutton because it is an mp3 player hidden inside a button… or badge. However since it was invented and sold only in the U.S. I’m going to keep referring to this as a button from now on. I’ve got to say the whole concept does sound like one of those things that someone might turn up on one of those investment television shows with. They’re all based on the Japanese show Tigers Money but in the UK it’s known as Dragons’ Den and in the U.S. it’s Shark Tank. You know the kind of things that go like this. Hey there my name’s Zac and I’m looking for an investment of a million pounds for 0.1% of my business where I’m gonna sell mp3 albums on Badges That sounds like a load of rubbish. I’m out. However back in 2011 they thought the idea had enough merit in it , and they launched it with a 256MB button which was enough to hold one album. The version I’ve got here is a later edition which has two gigabytes of storage on there. So you can put your own mp3 files into this alongside the pre-recorded album. Looking at the website at the bottom of the page there it is no longer in existence however with the help of the Wayback Machine from the Internet Archive we are able to see what titles were available on the format back in 2014…and there aren’t that many familiar names on there, there are a couple that pop out. Of course there’s a couple of really big games at the top here and I’d imagine that those were signed up in some sort of special promotional agreement. The whole idea of playbutton was was not to sell all albums on the format. It was there as a promotional tool, something that you would sell at a concert or event, with an album on and of course the artist’s picture on the front. It does seem that they struggled to get any other big name artists signed up to the playbutton so after a couple of years it looks like they pivoted the operation a little bit and started offering it to independent artists as a way to get their music noticed, and you could order from 25 to 600 playbuttons with your own music recorded on there. If you wanted to offer a cheaper playbutton you could just have 128MB of storage on there which would be enough for your own album and perhaps a bit of space for a few other tracks, or if you wanted you could go deluxe and have the two gigabyte version and choose whether or not you wanted to include headphones with the package. However despite all these good intentions that playbutton business wound up in 2014 without really ever making a splash. let’s have a look at the playbutton that I’ve got here. Now this is one of the deluxe sets because we’ve got the two gigabyte button and we’ve also got the headphones in the box as well. Inside the bottom of the box we’ve also got a USB to 3.5mm mini-jack lead which enables you to charge the button as well as transfer files on an off it and we’ve got the instruction booklet here as well. The button itself seems well constructed nice and neat not too thick not too heavy either. On the bottom we’ve got the headphone socket and on the top we’ve got a number of buttons. The three big ones are your controls for going forward and back through the tracks and the one in the middle is the play and pause button. The forward and back buttons also double as volume controls if you hold them down. On the left of those, there’s a tiny little button which will cycle through seven different equalizations. Now first thing I’ve got to do is of course to charge the device up so to do that you just plug that little supplied USB lead into a computer or a USB charger. We can see the front of the play button has a flashing LED hidden behind it which is used as an indicator for charging or data transfer. If we look at the files that are on here at the top of the screen there, is a how-to guide, and that looks like this. Then below there we’ve got a folder that just contains standard mp3 files. This whole thing can be used like a normal USB memory stick. If you wanted you could wipe everything off here. However if we take a look at one of these mp3 files we can see they were copied onto this playbutton in 2013 and it seems that they originated from itunes. Now towards the bottom of the screen there, you can see they are just started MP3’s at 192 kilobits a second. So I’ve charged it up, I’ve had a listen to it myself, I’ll plug it into the camera so you can have a listen and it just carries on where it last left off. i also tried some 320 kbps MP3 files I’ve got from the YouTube audio library these played fine albeit they sounded a little bit louder than the tracks that came on the playbutton so I needed to turn the volumes down a bit. Whilst we’re got this here we might as well take it apart just to have a look inside it albeit there’s never very much to see inside an mp3 player This one opens up easily though, just take three screws out of the back, the two halves come apart and there you go. There’s a bit a tape at the bottom there which is obscuring something. It’s there to stop the thing shorting out on the case but there’s not much behind it, so we’ll just put that back. We’ll have a look on the other side of this circuit board and we can see that’s where the battery is. Unfortunately the mAh number has been rubbed off there but i can tell you according to the instruction booklet this one is supposed to charge in 30 minutes and then that will give you five hours of playback time. Since the playbutton was only discontinued in 2014 there’s still quite a few of these things knocking around on ebay. I’ll have links in the video description for that, albeit if you import them into say the UK you’ll end up paying more for the postage that you will for the play button itself Right so here you go I’m listening to my music through my playbutton and don’t I look really quite cool? Don’t answer that one, I know what the answers going to be. What I will say though, is I’m not going to be all sneery about this one. Its only a novelty, a gadget, a bit of fun and what you think of it like that is all right. I mean it’s like having an ipod shuffle on a badge. No problem with that idea. You’ll need to replace the headphones because these things don’t sound very good at all. They’re better than some pack-in ones but you could get your own and then sounds a lot better. The MP3 files on this were 192 Kbps so they sounded fine through my other headphones, no problem at all. The only issue I’ve got, very slight one is why The Allman Brothers? Nothing against them, great album but an Allman Brothers album from 1973? Is that the kind of thing kids wanted to put on their lapels because I’d imagine that’s the kind of people that this thing’s marketed at.. kids that would want to, teenagers whatever, want to put on their favorite group on their lapel on a badge and say… Hey you can also listen to it and plug the headphones in and stuff. Yeah a little bit of fun but I can’t see many of them wanted to buy a 1973 Allman Brothers album, however good it is. Maybe that’s why there was some left that I could buy new old stock. Regardless anyway that is the playbutton just a little bit of fun hope you enjoyed having a look at it and as always thanks for watching Don’t forget to subscribe.

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