So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
iRiver X20 (2GB)
- Full features list, Great audio quality, Removable battery
- Radio didn't pick up signal easily
The X20 is a great digital media player offering all the bells and whistles you'd expect and combining them with some nifty features like a mini-SD card slot and a removable battery.
Price$ 179.00 (AUD)
Another product in iRiver's line of potential iPod nano (2nd Generation) killers, the X20 is a solid, all-round digital multimedia player. It supports all the usual bells and whistles, including video and picture playback and voice recording, and the controls and interface operate quite well. There are also the added bonuses of a removable battery and mini-SD card slot, making this a very attractive unit for those not quite ready for a fully fledged, hard disk digital media player.
One of the best features of this player is its audio quality. Even when using the default headphones, it provided impressive detail and a nice balance. The bass didn't extend quite as deep as we'd like, but it had nice detail and there was good separation between the different elements of the music. The highs were sweet and the mids were clean and powerful, creating a great overall sound. We'd still recommend upgrading the default headphones if possible, but those that prefer to stick with the pair included in the box won't be too disappointed.
The X20 comes in 2GB, 4GB and 8GB capacities, which is comparable to other flash based players on the market. If this isn't enough, users can also load media onto a micro-SD card and use the included flash memory slot, located below the screen. This is handy not only for expansion purposes, but taking media from your mobile phone or other source, and putting it straight onto the player.
Another nifty feature of this device is the removable battery. If you owned one of the first or second generation iPods, you'll remember the hassle that was involved if your unit's battery died. While lithium-ion batteries usually have a lifespan of several years things can go wrong, and the X20's sliding back plate allows you easy access to the battery compartment to insert a replacement. Not many other players on the market do this, so it's a refreshing inclusion from iRiver.
Aside from music playback, the X20 has all the things you'd expect from a high end media player. The voice recorder worked well, with clear, sharp recordings and minimal background noise. The picture viewer and video player operated well, although we're still not comfortable watching media on a screen this size. Even at 2.2in it is a little too small for regular viewing, although the quality of the screen was quite good. We were a little disappointed with the radio, which struggled to pick up signal in several areas, but unless you're a big radio buff this won't be a huge disappointment.
Playlists are of course supported as well as shuffle and loop mode. There is also a five-band equaliser with several preset configurations. Alternatively you can make your own, tweaking the default sound if it isn't to your liking.
The unit's interface is fairly standard, with icons laid out in a circular fashion. Everything is broken into tiered menus, which are intuitive and easy to use. The controls are dominated by the scroll wheel, which both navigates and acts as a five-way directional pad. Spinning it will move through the menu, while pushing different directions will select different items. It took a little getting used to, but once you understand which direction corresponds to which action, it becomes considerably easier. We still give the thumbs up to Apple in the controls and interface department, but the X20 is quite well designed in this department.
The aesthetics of the X20 are also appealing, with a gloss black paint job and silver rim. It is quite simple, assisted in this regard by the single, multipurpose scroll wheel. Our only complaint is that the scroll wheel is highlighted in blue neon when the player is on, which was a little over the top for our liking. The unit measures 98.5mm x 49mm x 14.8mm and weighs 71g. We found it light enough to slip into our pocket and forget about and this makes the player comparable to other high capacity flash models on the market.
iRiver quote the battery life at 22 hours music playback and six hours video playback. We achieved about 15 hours playback using our standard MP3 files, which is about what we expected.
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