Editors' note: The text of this review has been updated to reflect the fact that the flash-based version of the Ibiza Rhapsody does not include A2DP Bluetooth integration. The rating of this review has been lowered from 7.3 to 7.0 because of the player's subpar battery test results.
Home appliance and electronics manufacturer Haier America leapt into the portable media player market last year with the 30GB Ibiza Rhapsody, a jack-of-all-trades device that came loaded with features, including Wi-Fi music downloading. Even at the time, hard-drive-based MP3 players were a dying breed, so it's no surprise that the Ibiza was followed up by a flash-based sibling of the same name. The flash Ibiza Rhapsody offers most of the impressive array of extras found in its slightly larger family member, but comes in a different array of colors and with either 4GB ($199) or 8GB ($229) of memory. It's large and pricey for a flash player, but it comes with some nice extras right out of the box--including decent headphones--so if you're after an advanced device, the Ibiza could fit the bill.
As mentioned, the flash Ibiza is not the most compact MP3 player you can find--not even close, in fact. It's only a bit thinner (0.4 inch) than its hard-drive-based counterpart, while its height (4.1 inches) and width (2.4 inches) are the same. However, the unit has a nice, substantial feel to it. It's housed in a smooth and shiny seamless metal casing, which is available in a variety of colors: aqua, black, blue, pink, and purple. A large, square touch pad on the front of the device is complemented by a good array of tactile controls. The touch pad--which is surrounded by Play/Pause, Track Shuttle, and Back buttons--is responsive and can be clicked in the center to make selections. A dedicated Volume toggle and a Power key are embedded into the right spine; the latter can be a bit difficult to press as it rests flush with the edge. The top side of the player contains the standard 3.5mm headphone jack, a Hold switch, and the Connect button, which allows you to activate the Wi-Fi with one press. Oddly, the bottom edge of the Ibiza houses both a standard mini USB port and a proprietary dock connector. The former handles syncing and charging, so we assume the latter is meant to accommodate future docking accessories.
The flash Ibiza's QVGA screen is on the large side for a flash player--good thing, given the size of the device itself. At 2.5 inches, the display is on par with that of the Creative Zen. However, the interface in general brings to mind that of the iPod, because of its blue-white tinge and simple, hierarchical organization. The main menu includes direct connections to Rhapsody Channels and the Rhapsody catalog, which is handy for subscribers. Also handy is the search field that shows up along the top of the screen once you delve down into artist, albums, and songs. And we're keen on the way the Ibiza handles album art: there's a full-screen, faded-out image behind the thumbnail on the main playback screen. It's a cool effect.