And the award for cutest little MP3 player goes to the USB Chocolate MP3 Player! Honestly, this is one of those gadgets that you love right out of its custom tin box — tiny-as-can-be at 30 x 43 x 10mm, it’s the size of two Hershey Bar blocks and packs 2 GB of audio storage for tunes on the go. Even the display is something of a toy: the controls are labeled with little icons (men running forward and back for directional controls, a little dog to turn the volume down and what I can only guess is a hybrid of a deer and a rooster works as a volume up button), and 4 flashing LED lights in the blank corner boxes indicate battery status and flash quickly as the unit charges/music plays (so if you’re wearing it outside at night, maybe it doubles as a safety device).
No programs or drivers are needed on your Windows/Mac/Linux computer, simply plug Chocolate into your computer with the provided USB cable and it’ll charge the battery and mount to your computer as a flash drive for easy drag-and-drop song management. Straight out of Hong Kong, the instructions aren’t written in perfect english (though indeed, always “check if USB connection is proper”), but use isn’t exactly rocket science — there’s an on/off switch on the side, a pause/play button, and all of the fun icons on the glossy white panel to skim through your songs. The kit also comes with iPod earbuds and a white lanyard, so you’re ready to take this mini-player with you anywhere — lighter and cheaper than the Nano, it’s a great gift for anyone on your Christmas list (unless they still haven’t figured out how USB ports work, then we suggest sticking with the fruitcake). Available for $39 from Brando.com.