With all the iPod imitators and wannabes out there, it's always a breath of fresh air when a company makes something that is actually different enough to garner a double take. In this case, the company is Iriver, and the product is the new P7 PVP. The interface on this device is so unique that I actually couldn't figure out how to use it at first--a rare occurrence for someone who's been in the game for more than five years. That's not to say the P7 is overly complex; in fact, it's quite intuitive once you get the hang of it. The big eye-catcher is the main menu, which rather than using text or icons, lays out your options magazine-style, with a snapshot of the last item played leading into the various media submenus. Words really don't do it justice, but a glance at the closeup below should give you an idea.
As you might expect with a UI like the one above, the P7 is controlled almost exclusively via its full-color, 4.3-inch touch screen (480 x 272 resolution). Iriver does offer a few tactile controls around the edges: a power button, a hold switch, and--yay--dedicated volume keys. The player is as feature-packed as we've come to expect from the company. There's music, video, and photo (including slide show) playback; a text viewer; voice recording; and an integrated FM tuner. You also get a wide array of sound enhancement features, including SRS WOW HD, and there's a built-in microSD card slot for adding more memory, which may come in handy considering the P7 maxes out at 16GB (4GB and 8GB versions will also be available).
Although Iriver hasn't confirmed format support for the P7, we expect it to be comparable to what you find in the Spinn, which is MP3, WMA, OGG, ASF, FLAC, and APE for audio; MPEG 4 SP, WMV SP, and XVID SP for video; and JPEG, BMP, PNG, and GIF for photo. The rated battery life of 50 hours for music is plenty impressive, especially given the large, brilliant display. The P7 is expected to be available in the U.S. by the end of Q2 and pricing has yet to be determined.