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MP3 Players

Photos: Hands-on with the iRiver T7 Stix

You didn't think the Lplayer was the only brand-new iRiver player we were going to bring you this week, did you? We've got the hot new T7 Stix hands-on for you today

We first told you about iRiver's T7 MP3 player back in June, when we felt mild interest for the little guy. It didn't seem to offer anything new and exciting, but looked attractive enough, and ideal for someone who just wanted a dead simple player.

A little package arrived for us the other day. While we were hoping for the latest edition of What Midget? magazine, we were pleasantly surprised to discover it was a present from iRiver -- a T7 Stix of our very own.

But first up, some specs. This is an MP3 player with a built-in USB plug, 1GB, 2GB or 4GB of flash memory, support for MP3, protected and unprotected WMA, OGG and ASF music formats, 11 hours of battery life, a tiny dot-matrix OLED screen, and a bonus FM radio.

It's an odd player to use. Some of the buttons are set into the front of the device, marked with a tiny, barely visible icon. They're actually physical buttons and not touch-sensitive, as their appearance suggests.

The volume controls are more traditional buttons, mounted on the top and bottom of the T7, and in parts of the menu double up as navigational buttons as well. Around the back is another physical button that sends the integrated USB plug flying out of its case, like a spring-loaded turtle head being pushed out of its shell.

And sadly, this USB connection is incredibly slow. We're talking a good couple of minutes to transfer a single album ripped at a decent bit rate. If you plan on transferring a full 4GB of music, you might want to subscribe to What Midget? magazine too, wait for it to arrive, read it, then return to the computer, by which time the music might have transferred.

We can't honestly say we've enjoyed using the T7 so far. Aside from taking an age to transfer music, skipping through tracks can take a couple of seconds per skip. Not supporting WAV music files didn't impress us either. And as you might have guessed, there's no gapless playback.

With some initial listening through our Denon AH-D5000 headphones, sound quality seems pretty good when compared with Creative's Zen. The Zen definitely has the edge, but anyone looking for a player at the T7 price point won't have any complaints at all.

Speaking of prices, the T7 is on sale in its 4G incarnation for a terrific £50 at Advanced MP3 Players right now. For 4GB you can't knock the T7 as a simple player for the gym, despite its initial annoyances. Expect our full review very soon.

For now, click through for a gallery of up-close and personal photos. -Nate Lanxon

Update: Read our full iRiver Volcano T7 review

The small screen is crisp and easy to read, though as boring as screens can possibly come.

Can you see those buttons? No, we hardly can either.

The little USB plug pops out of one end...

...while the headphone socket sits in the other.

On the top and bottom edges sit volume buttons, also doubling up as navigational controls in certain parts of the menu system.

The T7 doesn't come even close to competing with the Creative Zen, but it's certainly the more compact choice.