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iRiver Clix 2 Red Line 8GB review: iRiver Clix 2 Red Line 8GB

The Good Great design; intuitive and easy-to-use controls; lightweight; animated backgrounds; high-quality video; excellent sound.

The Bad Very expensive; screen feels as though it's coming loose from the player; no line-in recording.

The Bottom Line Quite simply the finest flash-based MP3 player you can buy at the moment -- the second-generation Clix is feature-packed, easy to use and boasts stunning aesthetics, though it comes at a hefty price. If you can afford an iPod nano killer, look no further

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8.3 Overall

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The Clix 2 -- officially called Clix 2nd Generation -- is the younger brother to the hugely successful and highly rated Clix. Even now, the Clix sits in's MP3 channel with one of the highest ever scores.

The navigation system of the original Clix was almost as revolutionary as the iPod's Click Wheel, and it sat upon a feature-packed device that worked incredibly well. Now this second-gen model has a special 'Red Line' edition that also boasts an 8GB capacity. It's pricey, though, at around £180.

The new Clix is so attractive, it actually looks slightly edible.

There are no visible buttons on the front -- instead, the front itself acts as a four-way button. Pushing the screen in any of four directions allows you to navigate through the various menus of the Clix, and it's incredibly easy to use. It's also very refreshing not to be fiddling around with small buttons or poor Click Wheel imitations. The red 'go-faster' stripe that now runs around the edge of the player adds an extra stylish touch to an otherwise all-black device.

Are there any downsides to the design of the new Clix? Only a couple. It's slightly difficult to see the buttons on the side, and the player feels distinctly breakable. The gap between the body of the player and the screen gives the feeling that the screen is breaking off. It's not though, so it just takes a little getting used to.

The Clix 2's glossy finish complements a stylish menu design

The 56mm (2.2-inch) screen on the new Clix is sharper than Paul Merton's wit, and menus, photos and videos are crisp and rendered with vivid colour. There's an option to change the main menu's background to one of several attractive themes, the most seductive of which on the original second-gen Clix was a beautiful, brightly coloured and animated rendition of what could be mistaken for a close-up of Saturn's rings. A new metallic theme is included with the 8GB Red Line edition that looks arguably more professional than any other theme included with the player.

The menu system itself is completely foolproof and simple to browse. Clicking the screen in the direction you wish to travel is all you need to do. It's intuitive and simple enough for a child or an ageing grandparent to master in seconds.

The Clix will play MP3, WMA, OGG and WMA DRM-format music. It supports high-quality MPEG-4 video, and video is so easily watchable you'll soon forget you're watching it on a small screen. Also supported are JPG photos and text files. There's also an FM radio (recordable to the player's memory), an integrated microphone for voice recording and five quirky games.

If you're part of the online music store crowd, you'll be glad to know your favourite DRM'd downloads from Yahoo and Napster, among others, are fully supported by the Clix. Sadly though, if you'd like to rip that old vinyl classic or bootleg cassette to the Clix, you're not in luck, as there's no line-in option. If this is a crucial feature for you, consider Creative's Zen V Plus.

The 8GB Red Line version of the Clix 2 doubles its previous capacity

Music is sorted using the traditional three-tier structure (artist/album/song), and ID3 tags are obeyed, meaning all embedded song information -- such as track number and genre -- is used to correctly sort your library.

Finally, a useful feature is the 'Smart Key'. A special button located on the side of the Clix can be assigned to a custom function, such as turning the screen on or off, or enabling shuffle mode.

Audio quality is on a par with all our top-rated players, which is to say it's very good indeed. Reproduction of deep lows on the bass-driven dance anthem Slam by Pendulum is superb, with high-frequency effects in the track equally clear and well defined. A broad range of frequencies throughout the audible spectrum are used and well mixed in the Counting Crows song American Girls, all of which are exceptionally well presented and powerfully driven into our Shure SE530 headphones.

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