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Haier ibiza Rhapsody flash review: Haier ibiza Rhapsody flash

Haier ibiza Rhapsody flash

Jasmine France Former Editor
5 min read

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.


Haier ibiza Rhapsody flash

The Good

The Ibiza Rhapsody offers about every feature in the book, including Wi-Fi; podcast support with wireless updating; photo, video, and subscription music support; on-the-go access to Rhapsody; updatable themes and wallpaper; even a basic Web browser. It also comes in a variety of colors and is easy to use; the interface is well-implemented; and the processor is powerful.

The Bad

The Ibiza Rhapsody is expensive compared with competitors, and it has copycat looks. It's large for a flash player, has a poor battery life, and it only works with Windows XP and Vista. Doesn't include A2DP Bluetooth integration.

The Bottom Line

Haier America's flash-based Ibiza Rhapsody is pricier and larger than the competition, but its straightforward interface, excellent wireless integration, speedy processor, and plethora of features should appeal to those looking for a player that does it all.

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.

If you're listening to Rhapsody Channels, you can click the center of the control pad to save the currently playing track to the player.

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.

Now, the overall design of the flash Ibiza is fine, though nothing shockingly new or stylish. However, the array and implementation of features is truly arresting. There's support for MP3, WMA (DRM 10 included), WAV, AAC audio and MPEG-4, WMV, AVI, and H.264 video. (PNG and JPEG are the supported photo formats). You get an FM radio with autoscan and integrated podcast support--with a separate menu selection and the capability to update podcasts on the go from any Wi-Fi hot spot. The flash Ibiza can also access the Rhapsody catalog and Channels from anywhere with wireless access (if you have a subscription, a 30-day trial is provided).

In the box, you get the player along with a case and some V-moda Vibes-like earphones. There's also a USB cable and a wall wart power adapter (not pictured).

As yet another added bonus, the flash Ibiza lets you access video on the go through AOL Video--for free. (Some videos offer better results than others.) The Ibiza has the useful ability to set and save wireless keys as well as get past terms and conditions pages for public hot spots. Additional features include an airplane mode that shuts off all wireless, and the ability to download new themes (called Airskins) for the player on the fly--and they are sweet. There's even a basic Web browser, though entering in new addresses is time-consuming. In short, there appears to be little this player can't do--Haier has even added some EQ presets to the player (these weren't initially present on the hard-drive-based player, but made available via a later firmware update).

The Ibiza Rhapsody is an impressive performer in some respects, but not in others. The processor is definitely up to the task; we were able to download Airskins while listening to our music uninterrupted--even if that music was being streamed simultaneously from Rhapsody. And we got the same result while browsing Web pages and the AOL Video library. At no point did we experience any crashing. The player's rated battery life of 15 hours for audio is adequate, though not spectacular; unfortunately, we couldn't even match that in CNET Labs testing, eking out a mere 12.7 hours of music.

Using the included earbuds, we were not entirely impressed with the audio quality offered by the flash Ibiza. The 'phones are heavy on the low-end and, as a result, music sounds slightly mushy and muffled overall. It's still better than most stock earbuds, but we threw on some Shure SE310s to really test the player's capabilities--these earphones improve the experience. The low-end response is nice and tight in bass-heavy tracks, but is tough to detect where it is more subtle. High-end clarity is definitely acceptable and the mids are well-represented, but music is not as quite as rich or encompassing as we like. Rather, it leaned toward the bright side. We'd give audio quality a solid "good" rating, nothing more or less. Video looks good on the screen, but we had issues getting content to transfer. When we tried MPEG4 videos, we got an error message prompting us to transcode. Both WMV and AVI files transferred fine, but then wouldn't play back on the device. If you're looking for the smoothest possible video experience, the Ibiza does not deliver. However, encoding software can help the situation, if you are familiar with it.