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South Korea's iRiver has launched the latest iPod clone, the iHP-100, a 10GB hard drive-based MP3 player.
While the iHP-100 certainly lacks the iPod's styling, it does have some neat touches of its own. Like the latest iPods (but not the 10GB version, it has to be said), the iRiver device ships with a remote control unit, but the iHP-100's version has a full-size backlit track information display screen. The iHP-100 also offers digital optical audio input and output ports, and you can hook up any source to digitise sound directly to the player's hard drive. There's a built-in microphone too. The iRiver also contains an FM stereo radio receiver.
In size, the iHP-100 is a little taller but the same width and fractionally thinner than the 10GB iPod. Both weigh around 160g - rather less than Creative's 20GB Nomad Zen, which comes in at 268g. Like the Apple machine, the iHP-100 offers a large, 160 x 128 backlit information display screen and a five-way navigation control, again better than the Zen's tiny 132x64 window. There's a built-in six-band equaliser; the iPods has a 20-band version.
The iHP-100 connects to a host PC via a USB 2.0 Hi-Speed link. It plays MP3 and Windows Media Audio files. Neatly, you don't need jukebox software to transfer files to the iHP-100 - Windows Explore will do. iRiver claims user get 16 hours of playback from the built-in rechargeable battery; the latest iPods only manage eight hours, while the Nomad Zen can offer 12.
The iHP-100 is currently shipping only in Japan, for ¥49,800 ($419), but MP3Players.co.uk is offering the device on pre-order for £329.95 and expects to ship in a week or so. As yet the player isn't available in the US, but MP3players.co.uk's .com offshoot hopes to offer it when it is, and presumably iRiver's US operation will do so itself.
Creative has introduced a pair of PC speaker systems ahead of their August availability.
The I-Trigue 3450 and 3500 both comprise a sub-woofer and a pair of tall, thin satellite speakers. The difference between the two models? The 3450's component units are kitted out in black and silver, the 3500's speakers in white.
Creative is touting the units' "lateral firing transducers", which essentially means each unit has speakers pointing sideways. The result, in any case, fills out the gap between high and mid frequencies, the company claims, adding "depth and balance to the overall sound picture". Each satellite also contains two micro-speakers built with titanium drivers to improve sound detail and clarity.
Titanium is better than aluminium, Creative suggests, a sentiment with which many Apple PowerBook users might agree after toasting their wrists on the aluminium models, ahem.
The I-Trigue units also use a technique called bi-amplification, which appears to involve using two built-in amplifiers each of specific frequency ranges and leads to better sound reproduction.
Both I-Trigue sets ship with a remote control unit with auxiliary sound inputs and a headphone socket. They also include USB sockets so you can connect Creative's MuVo Flash Drive-based MP3 player directly.
The 3450 and the 3500 will retail for £149.99 including sales tax in the UK. The US price is an exchange rate-defying $149.99. ®