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Iriver MP3 Players
iriver is a Korean company that has been producing MP3 players since 1999. Most iriver players are multi-functional – combining FM radio, voice recording, picture viewing and data storage with music playback.
The iriver lineup currently (May 2006) includes three flash memory models, one hard drive model (available in 5 GB, 6GB or 20 GB) and one multi-media player for playing music and videos.
Each of the three flash models comes in 512 MB or 1 GB sizes, with a $50 price difference between the two. The T-10 model is a compact player capable of handling MP3, WMA, ASF, Audible (for audio books) and OGG formats. It has a FM tuner and FM recorder as well as a built in microphone for voice recording. It operates on a single AA battery with playback time up to 45 hours.
The T-30 is slightly smaller than the T-10 and operates on a AAA battery which give about 24 hours of playback time. It has many of the same features as the T-10 with the addition of a line input for recording external sound sources. The screen size is a bit smaller than the T-10 but displays information about the current song and allows you to browse through your music collection.
The U10 model has a 2.2” screen which can be used for viewing videos or photos. As well as the supported audio formats supported by the T-10 and the T-30, the U10 can play MPEG4, QVGA and Flash Lite multimedia files.
All of the iriver flash players have a USB 2.0 interface for speedy data transfers, a customizable equalizer and support for music subscription services such as Napster. These are great sounding players which offer good value for the money.
Hard Drive Players
The H10 is reminiscent of the Apple iPod – same basic shape and similar control pad. Audio support includes MP3 and WMA, and JPEG photos can be viewed on the 1.8” 256K color screen. Surprisingly, there is no support for video or OGG – both of which can be handled by the flash memory U10 model.
The screen does, however, offer lots of viewing space for the menu and most functions can be accessed within a few clicks. Also on the plus side is the FM tuner/recorder and the voice recorder.
The video functions that are missing from the H10 are compensated for in the PMC-120. This player handles WMV (Window Media Video) types 7, 8, 9 and has full support for Windows DRM (Digital Rights Management) so video content can be purchased from online vendors and transferred directly to the player.
The screen on the PMC-120 is larger than most other players. It's a 3.5” LCD display and has integrated speakers so that several people can watch and listen at the same time. The player can also be connected to a TV set.
There is no FM radio on this model and it is also missing the voice and line recording functions that are found on most other iriver players. Perhaps iriver sacrificed these features in the interest of keeping the cost down, but with a suggested retail price of just under $500 this is not a cheap MP3 player.
Still, the video quality is good and the built-in speakers are a nice touch. This model is not the earth-shaking product that is going to remove iPod from the top of the heap, but it does what it does well and is sure to find lots of fans.
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