The i.Beat Pink's two mechanical controls live on the right edge of the player. There's a power key and the ever-useful hold switch (this reviewer forgot to activate it once and found the volume increasing swiftly to ear-splitting levels when pocketing the player). There's also a reset hole on this side. Somewhat inconveniently, the labels for all of these are etched on the back of the device, but as there are so few controls here, it's not as much of a nuisance as with, say, the iRiver Clix. Also, there's a little something else to look at on the backside of the player: a note and signature, which has been laser-etched, from Pink.
Turning on the i.Beat Pink takes you to wherever you were last within the interface, but note that music does not autoplay or resume--whatever song you were listening to will start at its beginning. Some users might find this irksome--especially those who listen to spoken word. The player menus are standard and thus pretty intuitive. You have icons for all the main selections (music, photos, videos, settings, and so on), and once you dig down into the music section, tracks are handily arranged into the Creative menu tree (artist, album, playlist, and so on). Music-wise, the i.Beat Pink is compatible with WAV, MP3, and WMA, including DRM9 for music purchased online (but not subscriptions). On the system side, the player can work with most systems--Linux, Mac, or Windows--and you can choose the drag-and-drop route or use the file management program on the disc that's included with the player. Windows Media jukeboxes such as Rhapsody also work just fine.
The i.Beat Pink has a fair smattering of features, but we weren't terribly impressed by their execution. You can view photos, but they look terrible; they load slowly, and activating the viewer stops music playback--and you're also taken back to the very first song in your playlist or album, when you return to the music. The player supports video, but only in a proprietary format (SMV), to which files must be converted using the included software. There's an FM tuner, but the antenna is weak and doesn't pick up a full range of stations. You can record voice, but there's no indication as to where the mic is on the player, making it difficult to get a good recording. Finally, the shuffle playback mode plays songs in the same order every time (presuming you haven't put new songs on).
On the sound end, TrekStor provides a multitude of EQ options--nine, to be exact--but most of them make music sound terrible. Even on flat, sound quality was just passable--and this was with our test ear buds (the Shure SE310) already plugged in. Music lacked the depth and warmth we desire, though the high-end clarity was pretty good. Customizing the EQ setting in User Mode did help things a bit, but audio was still just too bright for our tastes. Overall, we couldn't seem to shake the digital quality of the music. The rated battery life of 12 hours also isn't terribly impressive, but the actual battery life is downright appalling at a measly 5.8 hours for audio. Surprisingly, video battery life is decent at 3.6 hours.