The motherboard market has reached a threshold for market maturity, and because of this, profit margins on motherboards and video cards are razor thin. This is even evident in the number of motherboard and video card manufacturers that have remained, for the most part, successful. The big three motherboard manufacturers, MSI, Gigabyte, and Asus, are still feeling the heat related to profit margins, and therefore are continuously on a quest to diversify their product portfolio. This is reflective of what we have seen going on in the Taiwan technology stock market. This is also transparent of what we heard at Computex and in our first CEO Forum.

One of the most un-treaded areas for motherboard makers is consumer electronics, as this encompasses a wide spectrum of products from everything from LCDs to MP3 players. In our first PM Forum, 62% of product managers reported that they are currently pursuing consumer electronics. Now, this figure includes companies that have not announced their consumer electronic product lines, but still are pursing such products internally. This is in contrast to small form factor (SFF) PCs, which all companies reported to be pursuing.

While SFF is a phenomenon market and can be a cash cow for many, it will not remain so for a long time, since it is also bound to mature. As this market matures, we should expect to see motherboard companies turning to other outlets to make a name for themselves. After all, the name Shuttle, which was previously unknown to many, is now all but synonymous with small form factor.

We saw many motherboard manufacturers turning to very interesting product lines, some of which took us completely by surprise and others were very expected. Asus, for one at Computex, introduced their cellular phones, which are expected to sell overseas in areas such as Europe and Asia. We have been informed that there are no such plans to introduce them into North America, however. Meanwhile, there are other innovative products that take what already is and improves on it. MSI is a great example of this with their Mega Stick 1. MSI has taken a USB flash drive and turned it into a fully functional, on-the-go solution: FM tuner, FM recorder, voice recorder, MP3 player, and of course, a storage device. This may not seem like much at first, but we found out otherwise once we put it through the paces…

Mega Stick 1 – Supercharged USB flash drive


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  • duxxyuk - Wednesday, March 31, 2004 - link

    Nice detailed review.
    Like others here I would like to point out that there is the iBead 100 and 200 models made in Asia and notably imported into europe by JENS of Sweden and ISM of France.

    The iBead is almost identical to this unit with the addition of an integrated 14 hour Li-ion battery that recharges off the USB. Also it can read its own .wav recordings and it has up to 20 FM radio stations with an auto scan and save function perfect for the frequent traveller who likes to have the main local radio stations preset on arrival into a new city.

    It remains yet to be seen if the MSI MegaStick will be competitive against the already extablished iBead and Creative MuVo devices. that depends on its price, availability and support.
  • gemere - Saturday, January 31, 2004 - link

    The new 256MB version has just come out but for some reason MSI have done away with the cool white and gone for ametallic blue. Even worse they have replaced the neat headphone unti. It now come with a separate metal neckchain which is better BUT the heaphones are now completeley rubbish. No longer in ear they are totally lacking in bass response making the unit sound like a cheap transistor radio! Reply
  • aryaraj - Saturday, January 3, 2004 - link

    I've just got my MSI megastick from
    It sound good...wasn't able to delete my Voice files, w/o conn. to PC.
    Overalla great small as advertised..and the sound quality is impressive. U cud do with better earphones..but wht the heck..for this price its more than value for money.
  • BJako - Wednesday, December 17, 2003 - link

    I got today Megastick 1 with firmware 2.02 and upgraded it to 2.04. I love it.
    But bad feature is that you can't use it as USB memory stick without loaded battery - but you can disconnect battery after connecting it to USB port. That's very odd, no memory stick doesn't need battery...
  • JKPCHelp - Monday, December 15, 2003 - link

    Anyone have an idea when the Limited Edition versions are going to be available? Thanks Reply
  • JKPCHelp - Monday, December 15, 2003 - link

  • darcon3k - Saturday, November 29, 2003 - link

    Just got a megastick1 from newegg which came with firmware 2.02.
    I tried the voice recording and wav playback works !!! Same with FM recordings.

    I love that it uses a AAA battery instead of a builtin hard to replace rechargeable. I use rayovac's new 15min rechargeable batteries which last about 11-12 hours and recharge in 15 minutes =D I feel sorry for people with ipods and its unreplaceable battery, for more info on that check out
  • Z3mr2 - Wednesday, November 26, 2003 - link

    There is also another company called NAPA that has been in the MP3 Market for a while, and is not metioned here. There model is very similar and is definitely a worth taking a look at because of it's price.

    The Napa PA12FM is an MP3 player, Data Storage, Voice Recorder, Voice Playback, Digital FM Tuner unit that also has an External Memory Slot for SD or MMC, Which gives this unit alot more funtion posibilities by just switching the Memory.

    Although the Internal memory is only 64MB. You can expand the memory (Up to 1GB)or switch memory cards in an instant.

    Total Price of the Unit with additional 64MB SD card (Totaling 128MB) is only $79.00. If you go with the 128MB Card, it's only 98.00!!! Still cheaper than many other similar products in the market.

    Here is a link to the NAPA PA12-FM:

  • bobdobba - Saturday, November 22, 2003 - link

    This review is simply embarassing. I realize Anandtech has to maintain their relationships with Taiwanese mobo companies - but this is shameless and spineless.

    Products like this are a dime a dozen in Taiwan. To say that anything about this product is 'revolutionary' is a joke.

    The review had NO information about MP3 playback. Nothing about sound quality, ability to handle VBR, ABR, and high CBR MP3s. Lots of mobile players drop the ball here. Does the MSI one? Who knows?

    Volume is also a major issue for a lot of players. Is the highest volume high enough? Who knows?

    Are the included headphones comfortable in the ears? Who knows?

    And the crucial fact that you can't even play back voice notes on the player isn't even mentioned in the conclusion?????? WTF! Just this makes it basically useless as a voice recorder.

    A terrible review, essentially useless, worse than a press release. I expect better from Anandtech.

  • geckojohn - Thursday, November 20, 2003 - link

    I bought this MSI mp3 player and have been using it for an hour or so and love it. Compared to the Muvo, the sound is much louder and more crisp. The fm tuner is really nice too. You can't beat this mp3 player for the price. I highly recommend it.


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