In the ultracompetitive MP3 player marketplace, Korean DAP manufacturer Iriver can always be counted on for two things: innovative design and feature-packed devices. The Iriver Spinn is no exception with its Spinn System Toggle Wheel, touch-screen display, and laundry list of features. At $249.99 for the 4GB model and $289.99 for the 8GB, the Spinn is perhaps the priciest flash player on the market today (by comparison, the 8GB iPod Touch costs about $229), and it's not the simplest to use, but its slick, high-quality build and variety of features may appeal to those looking for a nonstandard MP3 player with plentiful audio codec support.
The Iriver Spinn, which is dominated on the face by a 3.3-inch touch screen, is one of the most solid-feeling portable media players we've laid hands on in recent times. The unit measures 3.8 inches across, 2 inches from top to bottom, and 0.4-inch thick and is constructed mainly out of brushed magnesium, which wraps around the white plastic backplate. Inserted into the right spine is the Spinn System Toggle Wheel, a cylindrical knob you twist to navigate menu options and push in to make selections and dive through menus. A variety of other tactile controls--dedicated volume, power, and back keys and a hold switch--line the top and left edges of the player, while a proprietary USB port is concealed beneath a flap on the bottom. The standard 3.5mm headphone jack also lives on the bottom, opposite the Toggle Wheel.
The Spinn can be controlled almost entirely via the tactile controls, but the touch screen provides access to a few essential extras, such as the USB syncing mode and the contextual menu (for setting playback mode or a photo as wallpaper, for example). You may also elect to use it for most standard playback controls as well as more minute functions, such as scanning to a certain place in a file or skipping quickly through a long menu list. No matter what your navigation preference, the Spinn requires two hands, and blind navigation can be a bit tricky, unless you're using the knob to skip through tracks. However, the knob's mechanical clicks combined with a vibration feature that goes off as you reach the end of a list might be compelling to those with impaired vision. In general, though, the menu's orange font isn't terribly easy to read.