iRiver S10 (2GB) review: iRiver S10 (2GB)

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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The iRiver S10 features a cute, wearable design with an innovative, clickable screen; the bright OLED screen makes for easy navigation. The player includes nice extras such as an FM tuner, voice recorder, and alarm clock. It also plays OGG files and offers good sound quality.

The Bad The iRiver S10 is expensive, suffers from an unimpressive battery life, and doesn't support DRM-protected music. Oddly, it doesn't support JPEG photos--only BMP. It may be too tiny for some users.

The Bottom Line The undeniably cute iRiver S10 sounds great and is packed with features, but its lofty price tag and paltry battery life might be a deterrent for some users.

7.3 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 7.0

The competitively small iRiver S10 came hot on the heels of the Apple iPod Shuffle--in Asia, anyway. Now, iRiver is selling the stylish 2GB Flash player stateside and it's much of what we expected: feature-packed with a cool interface and great sound quality. However, some may find the $170 price tag daunting (Creative's 2GB Zen V Plus goes for about $110 by comparison) and others may scoff at the paltry eight-hour battery life. Still, if you lust after tiny tech, you'll definitely want to give the S10 a look.

No denying the iRiver S10 is cute, though some might find that it borders on ridiculousness in its minuteness. At 1.7x1.2x0.4 inches, it's just a hair larger than the iPod Shuffle but just as easy to misplace. In fact, I daresay the S10's a bit easier to lose track of due to its black coloring, which causes it to blend into dark surfaces and areas. Still, if you're looking for a tiny MP3 player that can be easily passed off as a pendant, this one fits the bill. Plus, unlike the Shuffle, the S10 offers a crisp color OLED screen--one that's rather larger than that of the MobiBlu Cube2 at 1.2-inches. Oddly, iRiver chose to orient the screen in portrait mode, which requires constant scrolling of longer text on the display. Unfortunately, there's no option to switch to landscape.

iRiver was able to squeeze a relatively ample screen onto the itty-bitty player by utilizing the innovative D-Click interface, which is the same as that found on the Clix. In order to navigate among the S10's menus, you click on the four edges of the screen. Little contextual graphics appear within the various screens and menus to indicate which side accomplishes what. On the playback screen, for example, pressing up on the display goes back one track, clicking down shuttles forward, and pressing right pauses playback. Dedicated buttons for power and volume sit on the right and left spine, a standard headphone jack and lanyard loop are embedded into the top, and a pinhole mic can be found on the bottom edge. There's no obvious hold switch; instead, you press both volume keys at the same time to lock the controls. Unlike the Clix, the S10 does not use the Creative-patented interface that allows you to step down through genres, artists, and albums. Instead, you get old-school folder tree navigation.

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