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iRiver T60 review: iRiver T60

iRiver's T60 may look look like a popular prism-shaped chocolate bar, but the company has a great track record of making players with brilliant audio quality. Can it keep it up with this tiny, AAA-powered flash model?

Nate Lanxon Special to CNET News
4 min read

iRiver's T60 may look look like a popular prism-shaped chocolate bar, but its ubiquity at airports will be significantly less than its Swiss doppelganger. This simple MP3 player comes in 1GB, 2GB and 4GB capacities, priced at £49, £69 and £89 respectively.

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7.5

iRiver T60

The Good

Amazing sound quality; using AAA batteries is convenient; high-quality OGG support.

The Bad

Navigation can be tricky; low-res screen.

The Bottom Line

The iRiver T60 terrific-sounding player, and many people will find the use of AAA batteries handy. But the very low-resolution screen doesn't impress and navigating the thing can be tricky at times

Its unusual shape, while distinctly a love-it-or-hate-it affair, should not detract any buyer from appreciating the audio expertise that usually goes into iRiver's music players. Whether the T60 deserves to bear the iRiver name or be drowned in the nearest river, needs to be determined.

Design
Triangular shape aside, the T60 is still an unusual-looking creature. Firstly, its corrugated plastic casing is a step away from the smooth finish most commonly seen on MP3 players. Secondly, its underside houses an AAA battery.


The iRiver T60 comes in black or white, and 1GB, 2GB and 4GB capacities

A four-way navigation nipple sits to the right of a low-resolution 20mm (0.8-inch) colour LCD screen, and acts as a 'select' button too. In a similarly unusual move, iRiver has built in a dedicated A-B repeat button. If you're clamouring for a player that allows you to easily repeat your favourite parts of songs, look no further.

Despite its triangularity, the T60 will sit comfortably in your pocket, and its 24g weight is minimal enough to make the player unnoticeable.

Features
The T60 supports the vanilla MP3 and WMA codecs, but will also plough through any ASF or OGG files you've got. Protected WMA content will work from online music stores as well, though you'll need to transcode any of the DRM-free downloads from iTunes Plus as iRiver shows no love for the excellent AAC format. For shame! Still, you can at least listen to, and record, FM radio. There's also a voice recorder and BMP image viewer (what? no JPEG?), though on the tiny screen this feature's usefulness is seriously in question.

If you're a podcast or audiobook lover, the resume option will save you from frustrated scanning to the part of the recording you were at before switching off the device. Playback speed can be adjusted too, if you like being read to in the manner of Chris Rock. In fact, the popular Podcast Ready podcast app can be loaded on to the T60 too, should you be so inclined.

Finally, a heap of equaliser settings and presets hand some auditory control over to you, including a five-band EQ and various SRS modes.

Performance
iRiver's players almost always give stellar performance. It was not a surprise to hear great sound quality from the prismic T60. Stream Of Consciousness by Dream Theater exploded from the player's auditory orifice with the cataclysmic power of a galactic collision. Its gusto was relentless, yet well-defined and impressively driven. This is a complex song with layers of detail, each requiring a fair level of processing. The T60 handled this task admirably and, not too surprisingly, the voice recorder performed well too.


The default equaliser setting is very flat. While many people like this, others prefer to interfere with sound styles. The SRS EQ is capable of making a radical difference to the sound of your music, but will require some experimentation. Various other preset EQ settings -- pop, dance, metal -- help tone genres effectively and more specifically than SRS.

Visually, the colour LCD screen doesn't offer the liquid crystal orgy that iRiver's X20 did, but it's acceptable for a player of this size and simplicity. It's very low-resolution and individual pixels are easy to see. But for displaying song names and folder structures, it's fine. Just don't expect album art. As for the bitmap image viewer, really, there's no point. Images are low-res, diminutive and downright pointless. Why this 'feature' is even implemented is beyond us.

Most buttons perform more than one task (the A-B repeat button is also used to set the EQ) so memorising these functions is essential. Music can be dragged and dropped on to the player through Windows, via Windows Media Player or with iRiver's simple media-management software (both included). We're promised a 19-hour battery life from an AAA battery. Pop back soon to see what our labs pulled from it in our tests.

Conclusion
For its reasonable price, the iRiver T60 is a nice enough player. We're not whisked away with the design or head-over-heels in love with the screen. But sound quality is nothing short of stellar and once you've mastered the controls, it's easy enough to use. This is a great choice for teens, and commuters enduring bleary-eyed trips to and from the office, but the open-minded audiophile won't find much to sneeze at for the price.

If you're after something as affordable but less Tobleroney, Creative's Zen Stone Plus is sure to appeal. For a great price, the Stone Plus also has sound to kill for.

Supplier: Advanced MP3Players.com

Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide

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