Ever since seeing Iriver's CES in January, we've been itching to get models to take home and use. We've just been sent one of the first players in the U.K. and in many ways we're extremely taken.of MP3 players back at
The 4GB and 8GB capacities are expandable with microSD up to 8GB, and the players come with built-in microphones, line-in sockets, built-in mini stereo speakers, video playback, and, like the iPod Nano, come in a variety of colors.
The player itself feels pretty light, and it's reasonably attractive. It's a little reminiscent of the Archos 105, meaning it's got a slightly budget feel to it. However, that big ol' 61-millimeter (2.4-inch) color screen is better than the Archos, despite being fairly low-res, with individual pixels clearly visible. Navigation is very simple--if sluggish to use--and requires the use of a simple four-way control pad underneath the screen.
After getting some music onto the players by simply dragging and dropping MP3s through Windows, we had a quick blast to test sound quality. Iriver has never blown us away with audio performance, but it's always been acceptable. The same is true for the E100--it lacks the in-your-face quality fromor , but it's above average. Paired with our reference headphones, the difference between the iPod classic and the E100 is obvious. But using cheap bundled headphones, it's less so.
Video quality's average, and again it's two steps behind the Nano in terms of sharpness and color depth, and a step behind Iriver's own--a player we're still in love with from 2007.
This all said, the E100 is more affordable and a step up from cheaper alternatives, such as the mediocre Archos 105. After spending a small amount of time with it, we'd say it's a usable and friendly alternative to anything by Apple. But if you use the two side-by-side, you'll realize the extra money spent on an iPod or a Creative Zen gives you significantly better video and audio performance, though usability is on a par with the Zen.
Expect our full review extremely soon. By the way, did you know this player shares a model number with a toilet seat? No, neither did we.