Every BBC iPlayer device tested

The BBC's iPlayer is compatible with so many portable devices now it's almost funny. So here's your ultimate reference resource: we've tested and judged every single one of them

The BBC's iPlayer is compatible with so many portable devices now it's almost funny. In terms of ease of access to on-demand content, Auntie has pushed the boat so far out it's barely a dot on the horizon.

So the time has come to survey the best ways to watch the iPlayer. Over the last year we've tested a huge number compatible devices, from phones, to PMPs, to games consoles. Here, we've collected together our thoughts on the iPlayer functionality of every compatible device currently on general sale.

If you have an obscure device you think we've missed, please post your thoughts on it in the comments. Our aim is that this can be the most comprehensive guide to iPlayer devices on the planet.

Portable media players

Apple iPod touch
Although the iPod touch doesn't let you download content for offline playback, it offers the best portable iPlayer experience when in range of Wi-Fi. The BBC has a special iPod touch-friendly version of the iPlayer Web site, and streams videos in high-quality H.264. Along with the iPhone, it's one of the most enjoyable ways to watch TV, even if you can't take shows on the Tube as you can with many other platforms.

Our score: 9 out of 10

Full review

Sony X-series Walkman
Expensive and less feature-rich than the iPod touch, Sony's X-series Walkman nonetheless impressed us with its amazing OLED screen. iPlayer video downloads look sweeter on here than any other device with a 76mm (3-inch) screen. It has 32GB of storage to store roughly 50 hours of iPlayer content, and requires you use Windows Media Player on a PC. There's no streaming option, but it's a very comfortable device to watch shorter-length TV on.

Our score: 7 out of 10
Full review

Sony S and E series
As far as use with the iPlayer goes, these two players are very similar. The S- and E-series devices scored a respectable 7 and 7.5 out of 10 respectively, and offer 51mm and 61mm screens respectively. Depending on the memory capacity you buy, they'll each store up to a few dozen hours of downloaded iPlayer content each, which syncs via Windows Media Player on a PC. The E series is an affordable and highly recommended alternative to the iPod nano , with great all-round performance and a good screen. The same goes for the S series, which offers the larger of the two screens and up to 16GB of memory.

Our score: 7 out of 10 (S series), 7.5 out of 10 (E series)
Full review
(S series)
Full review (E series)

Archos 5
One of the biggest advantages of the Archos 5 is its enormous internal storage -- up to 250GB, enough for hundreds of hours of TV -- and its superb 5-inch screen. Content can be synced to the player easily with Windows Media Player, using the Portable Devices format downloads from the iPlayer's Web site. It has a kickstand and built-in speakers too, and you don't need any Wi-Fi to watch what you download. Best offline iPlayer device? We think so.

Our score: 8.6 out of 10
Full review

Archos 7
Essentially, the Archos 7 is identical to the Archos 5, only instead of a 5-inch screen it has -- wait for it -- a 7-inch screen! It offers up to 320GB of storage for hundreds of hours of downloads, an awesome screen, internal speakers and no need to be in range of Wi-Fi to watch content. It's a bulkier iPlayer companion, but probably the best big-screen experience this side of a netbook .

Our score: 8.4 out of 10
Full review

Archos 605 Wi-Fi
An older player, but a good one, with a 4.3-inch display, a kickstand and built-in speakers. It comes with 30GB of internal storage -- room for roughly 50 hours of iPlayer content. You'll need to download programmes from the iPlayer's Web site on a PC, then transfer it to the player's memory via Windows Media Player. But despite having Wi-Fi, downloading this content on the device itself is not possible. If streaming is important, consider the iPod touch.

Our score: 8.5 out of 10
Full review

Creative Zen & Zen X-Fi
In terms of iPlayer functionality, these two players are identical. Their screens are the same size -- 64mm -- and both come with up to 32GB of memory for storing roughly 50 hours of iPlayer downloads. Despite having been on sale for almost two years, the Zens are still great little devices, and crucially allow up to 32GB of additional memory to be added via SD card. It's another sync-via-WMP setup, but they're great alternatives to the iPod nano and Sony's E- and S-series Walkmans. Out of the two, the Zen X-Fi gets our vote as an iPlayer device, as it also includes a built-in speaker. Note that the latest Zen X-Fi2 does not support iPlayer downloads.

Our score: 7.5 out of 10 (Zen X-Fi), 7.8 (Zen)
Full review
(Zen X-Fi)
Full review (Zen)

Philips GoGear Muse
It wasn't one of our favourite iPlayer devices, and only scored 6.8 out of 10, thanks to its poor screen and laborious navigational system. But if you like Philips products, it's still one of its better players. Downloads from the iPlayer Web site are synced via Windows Media Player on a PC, and the 32GB model will hold around 50 hours of programming. Problem is, a 32GB Creative Zen will cost you about £50 less and is arguably the better player.

Our score: 6.8 out of 10
Full review

Philips GoGear Opus
The Opus scored more favourably than the Muse above, but is still let down by its weak display and horrible control system. A 16GB model will hold around 30 hours of iPlayer downloads, but isn't really good value for money. Other features may appeal to Philips fans, but if you're looking for a good iPlayer device, this probably isn't it.

Our score: 7 out of 10
Full review

Philips GoGear SA5285
One of the first Philips players to support iPlayer downloads was the GoGear SA5285. It comes with 8GB of memory, which translates to about 15 hours of iPlayer action, and an above-average 71mm (2.8-inch) display. But it's a basic player with no outstanding features. If you see one on the cheap, it might be a decent purchase, but too many competitors now offer more for less.

Our score: N/A Full hands-on

Samsung YP-P2
The P2 was one of the first devices we tested portable iPlayer downloads with. It has been succeeded by the YP-P3, but can still be found for sale. It has a true 16:9 capacitive touchscreen, and since most BBC content is shot in widescreen, this means you don't get any black letterbox bars at the top or bottom of videos. Up to 16GB of storage will store about 30 hours of iPlayer programming, and it has a decent screen. Like the Philips, better players now exist, but if you see it going cheap it's still a decent device.

Our score: 7.7 out of 10
Full review

Samsung YP-P3
With an outstanding score of 8.7 out of 10 in our review, Samsung's P3 is one of the highest-rated MP3 players on CNET UK. It's got a great display, excellent features and can store roughly 30 hours of iPlayer downloads in its 16GB memory (an 8GB version is also available). This is a rich MP3 player and one of our favourite non-Apple options that also happens to be a terrific iPlayer device.

Our score: 8.7 out of 10
Full review

Samsung YP-Q1
Another smashing little Samsung player is the Q1. It comes in 4GB, 8GB and 16GB capacities for storing up to 30 hours of iPlayer programmes, has a great 76mm screen, easy menus and good support for other audio and video formats. Its closest competitor is the Creative Zen, which comes with more memory, but in terms of which we'd prefer to own, it's the Q1.

Our score: 8.3 out of 10
Full review

 

Discuss Every BBC iPlayer device tested

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

Home Basics 101

Know how to pick light bulbs?

From how much they cost to what kind of bulbs you'll need, here’s everything you should know.