Saving the best 'til last is sometimes a good idea, but we inadvertently saved some of the most exciting portable audio products -- at iRiver's stand -- until we almost ran out of time here at CES 2008.
The most exciting of the South Korean company's new line of products, for us, is the iAMOLED. You're likely to guess why this PMP is so-called. Yes, the iAMOLED features a 104mm (4.1-inch) AMOLED (active-matrix ) screen -- it's exceptionally bright and double-plus crisp, making it ideal for watching full movies on. To help store those movies, the player comes with either an 80GB or 160GB 1.8-inch hard disk.
Our first impressions are really positive. Not only does it support heaps of media formats, such as DivX, Xvid, H.264 MPEG-4, WMV, MP3, OGG and AC3, it also bundles a DAB radio, support for raw photo formats (along with JPEG et al), flash games and it's all to be managed with simple drag-and-drop technology within Windows or Mac OS X. What it doesn't have is a Web browser, meaning it's not directly competing with the Archos 605 WiFi, a player it shares many features with.
Instead of a touch-sensitive screen, the iAMOLED uses iRiver's new 'Spinn' controls, which are essentially little wheels and knobs. How this will feel in day-to-day use remains to be seen.
iRiver wouldn't give us any definitive availability dates or prices, as the "market research is still being undertaken". Rest assured we'll be getting our hands on a unit for review as soon as it hits the UK, probably within the second or third quarter of 2008. We'll have more from iRiver's CES stand lickety-split. -Nate Lanxon