Cassette tapes might not have the largest capacity or best sound quality, but they ooze retro appeal, as seen in the recent resurgence of the Sony Walkman. Tapping into that hipster market is the Mixxtape, a portable, Bluetooth music player that's not only shaped like a cassette, it also plays in an old-school tape deck – if you still have one lying around.
Underneath a shell of pure nostalgia, the Mixxtape functions like any other digital music player. Songs, podcasts and audio books can be transferred onto it from a PC or Mac via USB, and it's controlled through a small LCD touchscreen on the front. It supports formats like FLAC, MP3, WMA, OOG and WAV, and stores them all on the included 8 GB MicroSD card, which can be swapped out if you need more space. The device's creators claim that the battery will last a generous 12 hours, and recharge in less than one.
The Mixxtape offers three playback options. There's a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack that lets you pump it out through any wired headphones or speakers, and it can connect via Bluetooth to wireless headphones, speakers or modern in-car sound systems. But the feature that will really have the hipster audience frothing their coffee is the fact that it will play in a regular old cassette player, whether that's a Walkman, a boombox or an older car.
For the full effect, the reels in the middle will spin while the Mixxtape is playing, but for practical purposes, there's not actually any tape rolling around inside there. Instead, the device plays in a tape deck thanks to a stationary magnetic head.
But the Mixxtape might suffer from style over substance. After all, why carry a bulky Walkman around when you could just plug your headphones directly into the cassette inside? When the tape is inside a deck, you won't have access to the touchscreen controls, meaning there's no option to skip, fast-forward or rewind songs in this mode, however a remote control is a possibility for a future version.
That said, expecting the Mixxtape to be the most convenient music player out there is probably missing the point entirely. As far as merging the classic and the modern, it looks like a pretty cool idea, and one that's obviously struck a chord with a certain audience – the Kickstarter campaign has already clocked up US$85,000, about eight and a half times its original target, with 12 days remaining.
Pledges start at $50, which includes the device itself, a case, an 8 GB MicroSD card, the USB charging cable and either a t-shirt or a necklace. It comes preloaded with a couple of indie playlists, and for higher pledges, emerging artists can get the chance to preload their tracks and albums on all units sent out to backers. If all goes to plan, the Mixxtape should begin shipping in November.
Check out the campaign video below.