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It's tempting to copy Apple's designs, but usually the process is a little more guarded than this. The 1GB IPocket (also available as a 2GB model for £87) is one of those MP3 players that has taken the idea of homage to its natural conclusion: imitation. The similarities between this chassis and that of the iPod are difficult to ignore. Inovix has put itself in a difficult position -- in highlighting the player's relationship to the nano, it invites direct comparison. When you consider that some of the most innovative non-Apple MP3 players we've tested have failed to match the ease-of-use that Apple's simple Click Wheel design offers, it's a risky proposal.
If you've seen the iPod nano, you'll know everything you need to about the IPocket. The only major difference between the two players is the absence of the Click Wheel, and its replacement with a large cross. The front panel on the player is completely seamless, like the nano's, but the control pad physically depresses, like the directional pad on a games console.
It's much harder to scratch the IPocket than the nano, although we did manage to scar the plastic over the LCD screen with a. Having said that, we did some basic scratch testing to compare the IPocket to the nano and it fared extremely well. Bar the scarring incident, the IPocket's plastic coating is a significant improvement over the nano's -- coins; a screwdriver; keys -- none of these marked it.
Apple should take a look into what Inovix is using to coat this, it's the perfect opportunity to return the favour of 'borrowing' design ideas. Fine scratches are visible if you hold the IPocket at an angle, but it's a world apart from the Passion-of-the-MP3-player look the nano gets after a few days use without a case.
The IPocket can assemble playlists, but the system for doing this is not easily navigated. In fact, after several days with the player we still struggled to get the device to list tracks in a hierarchical menu system, something all other players manage without complication.
There're some interesting graphical flourishes to the interface, including a crazy-eyed bear cartoon character that waves goodbye to you when you switch the player off, and a photographic Japanese girl who bats her eyelids at you when songs are playing.