Product Type: Iriver MP3 players
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A Portable Jukebox
Iriver H120 20 GB
Member Name: geoffcampos
Iriver H120 20 GB
Date: 02/07/04, updated on 02/07/04 (1063 review reads)
Advantages: Radio, Records, Full Remote
Disadvantages: poor joystick, doesn't play AAC
This unit has a lot of features, and I have a short attention span, so I'l going to bullet point this review.
Reason for purchase
I wasn't particularly looking for another portable music player, despite being fairly drooly over the iPod. I walked into my favourite electronics shop to buy a ethernet switch when I spotted the iRiver under the glass counter alongside a 15GB ipod and a Creative Zen Extra. After the Gent spent a few minutes running through the features in comparison with the others, I was sold. As a radiophile, the FM tuner is a killer feature, the USB 2-ness of it is also a necessary - and of course, it was cheaper than the other two.
Size & Weight
It is roughly comparable to the new iPod range in both aspects. The screen a perfect size. The Remote control is a workable size with a decent screen also. Looking at it, it weighs exactly would you'd expect - whilst not likely to float up to the ceiling, it doesn't substantially add to your walking pocket total.
Some interesting features
It can plug into any USB equiped computer. Essentially, it is a portable hard disk that can also decode music files. I predominantly use Linux, so iTunes, SonicStage et al are not available. I can plug in into my computer and drag and drop files, folders, anything into and out of the units entire volume - no proprietary software required, there are no restrictions whatsoever. In the office, I can 'share' the device as a 'network attached storage' volume and anyone can then play the tunes.
It supports variable bit rate formats and Ogg Vorbis, a truly open codec.
It can record directly to different codecs and bitrates via an inbuilt microphone (which is very good quality), 3.5mm line in or optical input. So, if you want to rip a CD at a quality arguably beyond that of a computer program/CD-ROM device, rip directly to 256kbps Mp3 via optical cable from a good stereo.
>You can queue music while playing, so basically, you're DJ'ing contiguously.
Excellent sound quality including SRS and WOW equalisers.
Plug in two sets of headphones simultaneously without any loss of quality.
Read the lyrics in time to the music - sounds intriguing, but I'll give that one a miss.
It can rip directly to Mp3/WMA. Plug into a jack anywhere anytime, and you can record.
The unit is a good size and shape, and can be operated with one hand effectively. Most buttons have two functions, depending on the time depressed, and each button is labelled with both features with press duration depicted as a dot or a dash. The main 'traditional' buttons: play, stop, pause, on/off etc. are on the side of the unit in a pleasing groove. Having buttons on the side seems more ergonomic - it seems natural to 'squeeze' for function. This is obviously a throw-back to cow milking.
The buttons are very clicky. The side buttons have no travel, they are either on or off, so when you have the device in the pocket, you know you've pressed the button - which is also evident as there is a 'beep' whenever any button is pressed.
Navigating through potentially 20GB of files requires a well thought out directory structure and input device. The directory is simply a user defined tree of folders and the input tool is a joystick.
From my experience, joysticks are very difficult to get right. I can think of three examples of good joystick implementations: My laptop pointer aka jellytot, it feels like it's covered with sand paper, so very grippy, and it's analog, the harder you push, the faster the cursor goes. Sony Playstation Dual Shock joypad, the sticks are analog and have a good travel, Nokia phone, it's small, very stiff and rubberised. The joystick on the iHP-120 sucks.
It is 'mushroom' shaped and metal, so your t
humb easily slips off it. You cannot get 'under' it, as there is a stylised 'lip' on the body under it - imagine a giant mushroom growing from the centre of a volcano caldera. The tilt travel is too long, so it is uncomfortable to push to the 'click'. Like the Playstation, it is also a button, which is very definite, but the loudest click I've ever heard, you'd probably be able to train dogs/open garage doors with it.
The remote control is an extremely 'full' inline attachment, it duplicates the screen and button functions of the device. the buttons are also jog dials, which is an intuitive idea, as the remote will almost always be vertically attached to clothing.
The tree-style navigation itself is vert intuitive, it can clone your music folder on your computer. The display shows folders, types of file formats, subfolders etc, although the text could be smaller to get more info in. Scrolling down a large list of songs is a chore as the joystick is not analog - a 'page up/down' button would be nice.
The over all design is good I think, and visually fairly attractive. The learning curve is shallow and it won't take long to remember the doubled-up functions.
Other stuff in the box
Packaging - It comes in a big blister pack, which is pretty ugly and difficult to get into, but hey, you're going to chuck it anyway.
Case - It comes with a black plastic case which will protect the thing from scratches, but it's pretty ugly and you won't use it. Scratches add character.
Head phones - After decades of portable music devices, I now just toss the earphones in the bin by reflex, so I couldn't tell you what they're like, but they're bound to be poor. Remember: headphones are a link in the chain, the player is only as good as whatever you stick into/on/around your earhole.
Doohicky - It came with a tiny male to female 3.5mm cable extender to
enable headphones with a bulkier plug to fit into the slightly hooded remote control socket - an obvious 'D'oH!' revision, but at least they did, which is nice.
Instructions - Extremely good. It even explains how to create standard .m3u playlists with WinAmp (which it doesn't come with).
Cables - they are all very standard, USB-Mini USB and pin-type 5v power mean cheap, easy replacement.
Battery - It's a Lithium Polymer jobbie, and genuinely lasts for 15 hours.
I feel like I've left a lot out. Key things to remember: it has a radio. Music transfer does not rely on a program. It plays/records most formats (although not Apples AAC). 20GB is a lot of space. Very long battery life. It's all metal. Full, LCD remote. Standard cables.
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