Review The 5GB hard drive market is awash with players all vying to be the top dog, so what makes iRiver's H10 stand out from the crowd? asks Stuart Miles.
Well, it's certainly compact. And the front boasts a 1.5in, 262,000-colour screen and a vertical touchpad control mechanism almost identical to the one on Creative's Zen Micro. Expect the lawsuits to start flying soon. Alongside the touchpad, the H10 has Back and Select button on the front, with Play and volume control buttons on the side. There's a Hold switch on the top. Like the iPod Mini and the Zen Micro, the H10 comes in a range of colours, four in this case, in an attempt to appeal to those who don't want just the standard silver - or, these days, white.
On the surface, the H10 is a standard MP3 job that supports drag and drop across a USB 2.0 connection. Menus are easy to control, using the vertical touchpad. For playback, the H10 offers the usual sorting methods: by artist, album, genre and playlists. For good measure, there's an FM radio in there too.
But the stand-out feature is the ability to store and view photos. Unlike Apple's iPod Photo, you simply drag and drop the images you want to the player's Pictures folder. This does have its drawbacks: large files take longer to view, for example, but on the whole it works very well. And you don't need to synchronise the H10 with a specific photo application.
However, like the Apple, iRiver has also missed the trick. You can't plug either the H10 or the iPod Photo straight into a digital camera and download your images immediately. Drag and drop may be an improvement over the iPod Photo's synchronisation system, but you still need to transfer your pictures twice, first to a computer and then to the H10.
The H10 also has the ability to store and view text files. This is an interesting idea and it only works because the 262,000-colour screen's quality is so sharp. We aren't suggesting that you read a book on it, but it will get you out of a bind if you really do need to read that document. Our belief is that people will use this to store emergency contact details or passwords - which is a really bad idea - as you are restricted to just .txt files. We tried it with .rtf and even .doc formats but to no avail.
Overall, this player is easy to use and performs well producing a good sound that coped well with everything we played - from Crystal Method to Bob Dylan - in our tests. If you weren't happy of course, you could change the 'phones.
The addition of a good quality screen to view images puts it above the iPod Photo even though it doesn't have the storage capacity to match.
What's the catch? There isn't one. The player works well with both Mac and PCs - thanks to the drag and drop - and the size means its still small enough to tuck out of the way. Our one piece of advice though, is to throw away the rubber casing as soon as you open the box as it makes the player unusable with it on.
|Pros||— Size; control; ability to view images and text files; drag and drop.|
|Cons||— The rubberised case - fortunately it's optional.|
|More info||The iRiver site|
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