If the iRiver Clix looks familiar, that's because it's simply an improved version of the iRiver U10. You get the same cool, miniature TV-like design and great features, alongside an enhanced user interface and superb integration with Windows Media Player 11 and MTV Urge. In fact, the device is launching in tandem with the media software and the music service because Microsoft, iRiver, and MTV worked closely to create the perfect symbiotic relationship between software, service, and hardware. We at CNET hesitate to call anything perfect, but iRiver comes close with the Clix. Tagged at $169.99 for the 2GB and $199.99 for the 4GB, the Clix is much more competitively priced than its predecessor. Of course, we'd love to see a 6GB or 8GB version in the near future, but if you're looking for a WMA device and don't need more than 4GB of storage, check out this MP3 player--we're enamored with it.
Early and late adopters, as well as design heads, will fall in love with the iRiver Clix's clean, futuristic look. The compact player measures 2.7 by 1.8 by 0.6 inches, weighs 2.5 ounces, and features a bright and colorful 2.2-inch display with 320x240-pixel resolution. While there are a few small buttons on the sides, users navigate the interface by pressing the four sides of the display itself. This tactile control method--iRiver refers to it as the D-Click (thus, Clix)--combined with graphical arrows that point you in the right direction, is both intuitive and logical. Indeed, compared to previous iRiver interfaces, the Clix's is refreshingly simple and easy on the eyes. It reminds us of the Olympus M:robe 500i, except that the iRiver Clix is much smaller and doesn't have a touch-sensitive screen--a good thing. The one downside to the interface is that, while one-handed operation in possible, two-handed operation is ergonomically preferable and results in fewer smudges onscreen.
Around the edges of the iRiver Clix, you'll find the remainder of the controls. On the top are the too-tiny dedicated volume buttons, along with a pinhole mic. The right side features the power button and a smart key, which acts as a shortcut to a feature of your choice; it can take you to the main menu, play and pause music, shuffle all tracks, start and stop recording, or flip the interface 90 degrees for viewing in either landscape or portrait modes. A hold switch on the bottom of the player rounds out the controls. Beside this switch are the Reset hole and the proprietary dock connector; iRiver bundles its own USB cable to charge the player and transfer content. The headphone jack is on the left side, and a decent set of iPod-looking headphones (white to match the Clix and accessories) comes in the package. There's also a printed manual and a quick-start disc that includes Windows Media Player (WMP) 11 with Urge.
Using the Clix within WMP 11 is wonderful experience. Even though the software is in beta and needs to work out some bugs, we had no problems syncing content to and from the player. WMP makes device management even simpler with its new gas-gauge feature, which offers a visual representation of how much space is left on the device as you drag media content to the sync window. For more information on this and other handy features, read our review of WMP 11.
If you really want to have some fun, though, use the Clix with Urge. You select music from a seemingly limitless library, and even the album art comes with each track you transfer. Like a song that's part of your subscription so much that you want to own it? Click and hold the right side to go to a list of options, and select Buy. The next time you sync the player, an Urge music store window will pop up with the song you requested.
Once you get some content onto the Clix, it's a breeze to use and a pleasure to look at. The main menu, to which you can return at any time by clicking and holding the left side, lists seven options--Extras, FM Radio, Now Playing, Music, Pictures, Videos, and Settings--and each word magnifies and lights up as you scroll over it. Once in the Music submenu, you can view content by playlist, artist, song, album, or genre. Within those submenus, the screen lists seven selections as you scroll through. The playback screen is lovely, with album art displayed to the left of the track name, the song length and time elapsed, the rating (out of five stars), the artist name and year, and the album title. Beneath this info, some faded-out text announces what song is coming next--very cool.