iriver Clix

iriver clixI’m such a gadget freak. I couldn’t help myself. Based on my excellent experience with a refurbished iriver U10, I took the plunge and ordered a Clix*. I am glad I did. This thing is about as close as it gets to a perfect digital audio player for my personal requirements.

  • It’s freaking beautiful.
  • The interface on the Clix is miles better than the U10. Faster, more intuitive, more options. The single downside would be the time it takes to scroll through a massive list of songs, which I hardly ever do anyway – I tend to browse by album/artist/genre.
  • Syncs with Windows Media Player 11 with no issues. I use star ratings quite a lot to tag my favourite songs, and the ratings sync back to WMP11 no problems.
  • Album art is cool and works well if you have it in WMP11.
  • In addition to 2x, 4x and 6x FFWD speeds, they’ve added 30x and 60x, so fast-forwarding through big podcasts is no longer an issue like it was on the U10.
  • Sound reproduction is great.
  • It’s freaking beautiful.

Get one. Unless you need piles of storage, it’s the best DAP out there bar none.

*Here’s a vote for minidisc.com.au. Don’t be fooled by the name, they have a great product range beyond just minidisc, and provide excellent service for those of us based down in this general corner of the world.

Microsoft’s “iPod Killer”

There has been a lot of buzz recently about a rumoured Microsoft portable media/game/wifi device. A lot of pundits are labelling it an iPod Killer.

Can I just say that there’s no point comparing any media player that Microsoft may or may not produce with the iPod. Regardless of what Microsoft is trying to ‘kill’, they will have no problem in killing the product themselves.

They will create a hardware platform that is fantastic, open, and fast; with full wifi connectivity, bluetooth wireless headphones, VOIP capability, huge storage, and a killer input system.

Then they will load it with DRM, Passport(tm) authentication, proprietary codecs, no podcasting or RSS capability, and a crappy user interface, and even attempt to sell it for fifty bucks. It will die a silent, lonely death.

And I am not a troll. I rely on developing .NET applications to feed my family. I do not hate Microsoft. I just know that a leopard cannot change its spots without the intervention of a benevolent geneticist.

iRiver U10 Part 2

iRivier U10Way back in August last year, I wrote about the newly-released iriver U10. I always liked the specs and looks of the little beastie, so when the time came to replace my current mp3 device, I picked up a refurbed iriver U10 512MB. In case you’re wondering how it works with no visible buttons, you actually click the edges of the screen to navigate the menus.

Summary: pretty nice. The screen is absolutely gorgeous, and the interface is mostly intuitive. FM radio gives excellent reception, and with the latest firmware it integrates perfectly with the sexy new Windows Media Player 11. I swore off WMP previously because it was a bloated, slow piece of crap, but release 11 is fantastic. The one thing it lacks is built-in podcast reception, but you can get around that with something like Doppler and smart playlists.

Upsides:

  • Browse by ID3 tags (artist, album, genre).
  • Good FM reception, one-off scheduled FM recording.
  • Gorgeous screen.
  • Direct-click interface is sweet.
  • The ‘Hold’ button actually stops the physical motion of the direct-click screen thing, so you can easily feel when the device is locked.

Downsides:

  • The mapping of Up/Down to FFWD and RWD when playing is counter-intuitive, but the only option when Right is mapped to Play/Pause.
  • FFWD/RWD speed is a tad too slow to resume 30-minute podcasts. Not the worst I’ve encountered, because you can define a faster scan speed in the settings, but even at full speed it takes maybe 60seconds to scan through a 30-minute file. Some sort of accelerating scan speed (like on my ancient Dell DJ) would have been ideal.
  • The screen gets smudgy. BUT a little cleaning pad thing is included with the soft case.

The price was also pretty good, probably because the iriver Clix has been recently announced. The Clix is a 2GB version of the U10 with a slightly faster chip, and additional UI features (album art, ratings, etc.). Given my experience with the U10, I’m actually very tempted to have a look at a Clix when it comes out locally.

More Origami

Origami MockupNo news really, but the Origami hype is growing, despite Robert Scoble’s best attempts to douse the flames. We now have some dubious mockup pics on Engadget, and Scoble’s latest post is more anti-hype:

[quote]

It’s not an iPod killer.
It’s not a portable Xbox.
It’s not an OQO killer.
It’s not a PSP killer.
Update: it’s not a Nokia N90 killer either (thanks to Marc Canter for asking about that).

[/quote]

My bet is still on an underpowered tablet.

Overhyped Apple Product of the Month…

Stuff currently being announced by Stevie J:

  • Intel Mac Mini with Frontrow and remote.
  • All Macs to go Intel this year.
  • Overpriced iPod boombox (iPod Hi-Fi) for US$349.

Update: Wow, I thought I was cynical, but check out some of the comments on this. The fanboys are really ripping Apple a new one. Either Jobs has screwed up and booked a keynote too early to fit in the real product, or they have badly misinterpreted the demand for big announcements like this. The boombox is the sort of thing that should have been quietly released with a couple of press releases and blog reviews.