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

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 CNET.co.uk's MP3 channel with one of the highest ever scores.

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8.3

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

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.

Design
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

Features
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.

Performance
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.

As usual, the supplied headphones are rubbish. You'll want to invest in a decent pair immediately if you're interested in anything better than low-quality sound.

Video playback is equally impressive and the high quality of the video files supported by the Clix look nothing short of stunning on the screen. Files with up to 30fps are supported, so playback is smoother than even the smoothest baby's skin. It's really comfortable to watch videos on, and 8GB of memory would store a few episodes of your favourite TV show. Photos, as you might expect, look just as crisp.

Our tests showed that iRiver is almost justified in saying its new Clix will play music for a solid day, as we got 23 hours of continuous music playback. iRiver also claims the Clix will play video for 5 hours, although we managed 5 hours and 20 minutes. Not bad at all. With 8GB of memory, it also means your video content won't eat into your music library too much.


The built-in FM radio doesn't have the fastest auto-seek we've seen in recent MP3 players, but the Clix always finds the strongest signal available and the quality is terrific. It tuned into all FM stations in our area without any effort on our part and the player has a huge preset capacity.

A five-band custom equaliser is built into the Clix and allows for some nice tweaking of music reproduction. There are also five preset 'SRS WOW HD' equaliser presets for adding some seriously dynamic alterations to music playback. These primarily deal with producing a sound closer to that of a live performance, along with some bass and treble alterations and 3D effects.


The Clix retains its tiny size and shape

The iRiver PC software has a fairly clean design and doesn't pose any real problems to use. Transferring our 1.5GB test library took 12 minutes, which is pretty quick. The software handles your photos, music and videos. Videos are automatically converted into a file playable by the Clix. This took half an hour to convert a 30-minute file on our office computer.

Conclusion
The second-generation Clix is nothing short of a work of digital art. Sound quality is superb, features are rich in number and well implemented. We especially like the trendy rings of Saturn background option, as this adds an aesthetic touch that we've not seen before in an MP3 player.

If long battery life is your main consideration, consider Sony's NW-A808, which boasts up to 30 hours of continual playback; or if you need line-in recording, consider Creative's Zen V Plus, which will take your analogue input and transform it into a manageable digital file.

But for a flash-based MP3 player that does practically everything well without being stingy with capacity, look no further than the 8GB Clix 2. If you can afford it, it really is a truly remarkable piece of audio gadgetry, though.

Supplier: Advanced MP3Players.com 

Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday