MP3-players are selling as never before and soon ”everyone” has one. One reason is today you may get a reasonable player below the $150 mark. But I believe there’s an ever bigger factor playing around here – the evolution of MP3-players. Enormous amounts of disk space and innovative features makes them a ”must-have”, something manufacturers have understood and which we clearly saw in the second quarter of 2004.
MP3-players are selling as never before and soon "everyone"
has one. One reason is today you may get a reasonable player below the 1000
SEK mark. But I believe there’s an ever bigger factor playing around here – the
evolution of MP3-players. Enormous amounts of disk space and innovative features
makes them a "must-have", something manufacturers have understood
and which we clearly saw in the second quarter of 2004. The thing that happened
to color display phones in 2003 is about to influence the MP3-player area, and
to be at the brink of technology’s edge you got to have one, no matter the price.
And the exposition is progressing at tremendous velocity. An MP3-player isn’t
just a player anymore, it’s now possible to record audio, enjoy radio listening
and nowadays even base it digitally. Furthermore, sound format support have also
been enhanced to support even OGG,WMA and ASF.
NordicHardware haven’t overlooked this and assists the world’s innovators with
our deep digging and in-depth reviews, so we got our hands on the most cheeky
MP3-players found to date. We, the editorial staff, have chosen players which
are a bit more expensive than average, between 2000 and 3000 SEK. This is a
very popular and spending powered segment and it’s here we find the most cheesy
players sporting a lot of functions to catch the eye. The only demand we had
was that the players should be based upon flash memory not hard drives. The great
advantage these kind of players have is that the weight and physical size can
be held at a minimum, though they’re not comparable to the hard drive-based in
the matter of storing space.
You can find NordicHardware’s MP3-player roundup at the following pages.
iRiver are well renowned on the rigid MP3-market and the familiar
triangular iRiver-look is represented also with their iFP-1090. It’s the test’s
most expensive player, but also the most outstanding, it’s the first player
in Sweden with a camera and color display. The box seems to contain a lot of
interesting stuff, so just keep scrolling to find out what’s hiding in this
rather heavy dark-blue box.
|Supported formats||MP3, OGG, WMA and ASF|
|Price per MB||11.72 Kr|
|Display type|| 1.2 inch with 260 000 colors,
|Battery|| Removable Li-ion-battery,
|Battery life: (given by manufacturer)|| 35 Hours on vol 20, equalizer
|Features:|| – Radio
– Voice recorder
– Photo album
|Frequency range||20Hz – 20 kHz|
|Output power:|| 18mW per channel (16 Ohm)
12mW per channel (32 Ohm)
|Size: (WxHxD)||91.1 mm x 31.3 mm x 34 mm|
|Weight:||63 Grams, including battery|
|MSRP:||3000 kr (Exchange rates)|
The specifications are a true delight. A color display combined
with a high output power and an excellent battery life will make any multimedia
reviewer shed tears of joy. The removable battery is good if one wants to replace
it, or purchase back-ups for a long trip etc. It’s not exactly cheap, it’s the
most expensive player tested, even when compared to how many megabytes you get
for your money, it tops the list. The unit’s weight and size are nothing to
complain about, it will easily hang around your neck or fit in your shirt pocket.
iRiver claims that the battery will make the iFP-1090 last an amazing
35 hours before it dies, if run at volume 20 (40 is max). Is this just an empty
promise, or can one really keep the iFP-1090 on for almost a day and a half?
I spent a whole weekend testing it and rounded to about 32 hours before the
battery was empty. But I also used the camera a lot, and everyone I ran into
naturally wanted to have a look at the first MP3-player with a color display.
If you stick to music only, then 35 hours is definitely not impossible.
For those of you who think 256 MB isn’t enough, the iFP-1090 has
a big brother with 512 MB of memory that looks very similar, except for the
color and the name. It’s called the iFP-1095 and is champagne colored which,
in my opinion, is a little nicer and sleeker, but that’s up to the individual
user to decide.
|What’s in the box?|
As I mentioned
earlier, the box seems to be very well filled to say the least, it has a heavy
weight and it will be exciting to see what’s hiding inside the box. Is it just
bricks, or is there something actually useful inside?
| – Player
– Covers for the headphones
– Travel charger
– Neck strap
– Wrist strap
– Three manuals
– Installation CD, 8cm
As you can see,
there were no bricks to be found, but a complete set of accessories with basically
everything one could wish for. Most of the weight was added by the three hefty
manuals included. The smallest manual (121 pages) contains a short guide to
getting started and is written in all of 15 different european languages, including
Swedish. One of the thicker manuals contains the guide for iRiver’s music software,
the last manual gives a more detailed view of the player and describes the player,
and how it is operated, in more depth. The manuals are really well done, with
a plethora of nice illustrations of the player, how one navigates through specific
functions and everything else worth knowing. I can’t other than give the highest
score for the manuals.
In the upper right
corner you see a strap that attaches to the arm. It’s meant for the sporty person
that either works out at the gym or runs. The irony lies in the fact that if
one goes to the gym too often, the player will not be able to be worn, since
the strap only will accommodate an arm smaller than 40 cm. I therefore hired
a stunt double to test the strap, since I myself spend way too much time in
the gym. According to my stunt double, the strap is very comfortable, can be
adjusted for smaller arms, and works like a belt with holes and a pin that locks
into place. The strap-material is a combination of flexible neoprene, tough leather,
comfy cotton stuffing, and a soft plastic one attaches the player on with two
The included case
is made of genuine plastic and doesn’t feel all too luxurious. It could just
as easily have come with an MP3-Player for less than 1000 SEK. One closes the
case with two sturdy buttons on the back and there are holes for all the player’s
buttons so one doesn’t have to take the case off in order to access the most
frequented functions. On the back side you will find a clip that attaches to
the strap for frail people or possibly even for your belt if it’s not thicker
than 45mm. Overall a pretty bad case, one that doesn’t fit an MP3-player of
such a caliber.
Two different straps
for the neck are included with this MP3-player, the first one is a very simple
construction consisting of a regular black string with a small snap-on clip
at the end which holds the cord and reduces the tangling. The second strap we
received is an original accessory that regularly costs about 125 SEK, but iRiverNordic
includes this accessory with every iFP-1090. It is of a much higher quality
than the other strap, made of a stronger material, and with iRiver’s logo printed
on a reflective surface. In other words, one is visible at night when wearing
this strap. At the very end of the lock is a ring with two tiny carabineer key chains,
perfect for when one doesn’t want to mess with the ring to hang keys there.
However , I have no idea why anyone would want to hang their keys next to the
player, you might as well drag the player through some gravel. Aside from that,
it’s a very good strap and I used it when I tried the player outside.
Last but not least
we have the charger and USB cable. The travel charger is almost always an optional
accessory that requires a separate purchase, but iRiver goes all out and includes
this in the box. It’s basically a regular transformer, but at the edge they’ve
placed a small USB connector. One charges the player through the USB port, and
that’s an excellent solution in my opinion. It takes about three hours to fully
charge the battery from a complete drain. The USB cable needs no introduction,
it’s a normal gray cable with a large connector on one end for the computer,
and a smaller one on the other end for the iFP-1090.
At first sight
the iRiver’s headphones don’t look very spectacular, they look like your average
pair of ear buds. But upon further inspection one will find something to make
audiophiles raise an eyebrow, namely Sennheiser’s logo. Sennheiser has probably
done the best job when it comes to headphones, but their price usually doesn’t
suit everyone. At the price this player runs it’s not strange that they include
name brand phones that probably match the player overall.
|Frequency range:||18 – 20 000 Hz|
|THD: (Total Harmonic Distortion)||1 %|
|SPL: (Sound Pressure Level)||125 dB|
|Cord length:||~1 meter|
This model is readily
available in the stores, so they’re not specially designed phones for iRiver
only. For those who are interested, this model bears the name Sennheiser MX400
and costs about 200 Kr. The first thing I noticed was that they’re very small,
very short and look discrete when they’ve been placed in the ears. They are
molded completely in plastic, not surprising since the weight needs to be kept
down. The comfort is adequate but they’re not as comfortable as iAudio’s phones,
they can irritate a bit since the part that sits in the ear is completely symmetric
and don’t form to the ear. But they do sit still and don’t fall ut. The included
covers are easily attached, but also fall off easily, more than once, the covers
remained in the ear when I removed the phones. One doesn’t always notice this
and it’s not too much fun to run around town with a piece of sponge in the ear,
I went to bed alone that night. The covers help to enlarge and soften the phones
a bit, which made the phones fill out more and fit snuggly. The cable is designed
with a longer cord to one phone so it can be wrapped around your neck and then
be place in your ear. I believe this is the best solution since it takes away
that cable hanging around your neck, and it looks much more discrete when you
can hide it behind the neck.
The most important
thing is of course the sound itself. Sennheiser has really performed here and
created phones with just the right amount of everything. The Bass is acceptable
and the higher frequencies get a higher score. Not as good as iAudio’s phones,
but the MX400’s aren’t very far behind. There’s no problem with volume, the
distortion is only apparent at the five highest settings. This will naturally
vary depending on the type of music played, but some half-way heavy metal shouldn’t
be a problem. Not our best score, but silver is definitely a fair score.
worth knowing about the accessories, on the following pages we’ll do a more
in-depth investigation of the player itself.
iFP-1090 has the classical triangular shape that can be found in
the previous models. The upside of this shape is that you can fit a lot of stuff
in the player, which we can se in the camera, color display and large battery
in a still quite petite player. The downside is that the player is slightly
protruding, and if you carry it under your shirt, an ugly bulge will appear,
no points for good looks in either the shirt pocket or pants. Still, it’s fun
having a product that sticks out from the crowd of otherwise flat and character-less
If we start with the front side (if you can call it that) we’ll find
the spectacular display that will be discussed later on. On its right we find
a small silver joystick. It has five different push combinations, and if you
move it upwards it’ll either adjust the volume or scroll the menus, depending
on what mode you’re in. A vertical movement will select the next track or fast
forward (or reverse) if pressed for a longer time. The joystick can also be
pressed down, and if you hold it down you’ll see a list of all the songs available,
if you keep holding it you end up in the menu where all the settings can be
Above the display are three small round buttons that all have an
important function. The one closest to the camera lens controls the power to
the player and also start/stop when in MP3-mode. The middle buttons switches
play-back modes; shuffle, repeat, or intro are some of the modes. If you hold
the button pressed you can change the equalizer settings. The third (and last)
button is used to switch between radio, camera, album, MP3, and dictaphone.
All buttons have two positions, a normal press, and a press-and-hold.
The other side has the hold-button and a swivel that enables a strap
to rotate freely. On the back-side you’ll find the battery and a small hole
for the camera. The left end is the most interesting. Except for the tiny USB
and phone-out connections, there’s a small turn able gadget, I’m talking about
the camera of course. The camera i housed in the 1-cm long stump that can be
pulled out of the player so you can take self-portraits and see the display
at the same time. It can be rotated 180 degrees. Exactly how the camera works
will be discussed later. The small hole on the back side enables the user to
take pictures without pulling the camera housing out, in case you want to be
discrete. The only negative thing with the turn able camera housing is the susceptibility
to dirt through the crack between the camera and the player. If sand were to
get in there, it would ruin the lens, and you could kiss the camera good bye.
But if you’re careful and mind where put the player, there shouldn’t be any
The iFP-1090 feels altogether well thought-through with all the buttons
in the right place, and it can be operated with just hand. The quality is all-over
very good and the buttons have the right hardness and tactile feel. The nice
chromed sides will of course get oily, but they can be cleaned by just wiping
them, just rub them with your shirt. The same goes for the display. It’s a fingerprint
magnet, but it’s easily cleaned.
The color display is a knockout, this kind of display just isn’t
normal on a flash player. It’s an LCD screen with 260 000 colors and supports
40 different languages. You could compare it to a mobile phone display which
will have between 4096 and 65000 colors. So the iFP-1090 really has a nice screen.
It’s also very bright and probably uses up a lot of battery power, but it can
be turned off completely so there shouldn’t be any problems. It’s very sharp,
in my opinion, and has a very nice blue color theme that looks like Windows
XP. The layout of the display and the menus will be covered on the next page.
I’m thinking similar displays will be popping up on most of the MP3 players
in the coming years. As you might understand, this display rakes in all the
points possible in this round-up, it is, after all, the first player with a
design is clever, and there are no problems controlling the iFP-1090 with just
one hand. It’s nice to have only three buttons and one joystick to keep track
of. The player has great quality, and there are no suspicious glitches or bad
choices of material, all the buttons feel genuine. The display is the best I’ve
ever seen on an MP3 player, and if that’s not enough, it’s also very bright.
In order to be comfortable with one’s MP3-player and not get bored
with it right away, a good menu system is required, and iRiver has put a lot of work
into this. The player is turned on with a light press on the Play button,
and the chosen splash screen is displayed. You can use a picture taken with
the camera or a .jpg image from the computer. Pressing Play again takes you
to the MP3-mode and the songs begin to play with a nice fade-in. A longer
press on the Mode button will take you to the menu where you can choose between
the main functions MP3, Radio, Record, Camera, and Album. In other words, you
don’t have to go deep into the menus to switch between functions.
The other menu can be reached by holding the joystick pressed for
a few seconds. There you will find all the settings, and there are quite a few.
Advanced equalizer settings are mixed with the contrast settings etc. Those
who like to adjust their players into infinity will be well-pleased, there are
settings galore. If you press the joystick once you’ll get a list of the songs
stored on the player. It shows a maximum of six songs per page, which gives
a superb overview and you don’t have to search forever to find the right song.
The MP3-mode has a lot to offer. The graphical equalizer looks sleek,
but offers more eye-appeal than actual usage, it’s a little slow, and it will
lag when the playing gets tough. You can choose between a bar graph and a line
(like an EKG monitor) to represent the settings. The time in the top corner
is a nice feature I miss with many other players and, not requiring much circuitry,
it should be a standard feature on all MP3-players. Then we have the regular
information in the top part of the display; the volume, bit-rate and media type.
The song/artist info scrolls by on the bottom part, while the folder info is
right above that.
The Radio part works like any radio should. Stations are easy to
save, and the reception is adequate. It’s nothing compared to my car’s system,
but as long as you stay in town and don’t venture out into the suburbs you should
be fine. The recording mode works very well also, and the results are as good
as one can expect from such a small microphone. It’ll work just fine for a board
meeting or presentation. Moving your newly recorded files to your computer is
also a breeze with the included software.
iRiver iFP-1090 ”suffers” from having to have a special program for
transferring songs. In this case, however, it’s a really good program that has
substantially more features than Windows Explorer. You can for example edit
the ID3 tags straight through the software, and format the whole player with
just one button. The draw-back is of course that you have to have the software
installed on the machine you have the music on. iRiver has gone one step further
by not allowing copying from the player to your computer, the songs must simply
be deleted, everything to stop illegal distributing of copy protected material.
The program is called iRiverMusicManager (IMM) and requires 11.1 MB free space
on your hard drive.
iRiver has, however, released a firmware upgrade that enables file
handling without the supplied software. This way you can copy music from the
player to your computer. This firmware reduces the transmission speed a bit.
When this review is published, iRiver should have the upgrade available for
download on its site.
There’s only one thing left on the iFP-1090 and that is of course
the most unique function. I’m naturally talking about the camera, and the whole
next page is dedicated to it.
It’s really a big step in evolution to integrate a camera in a MP3 player. In this case we’re talking about a 0.3 mega pixel camera module with a maximum picture resolution of 640*480 pixels. This is in comparison with any camera integrated in mobile phones. Picture quality isn’t something I’ll talk much about as it’s up to each and everyone to make their own judgment based on the many test pictures I’ve taken. The camera is sufficient as a party camera or for spontaneously taking a picture of that foxy lady passing by on the street.
When looking at the camera part there are a lot of nice and useful features. You’re able to mirror the image and add filters such as monochrome, sepia (brown filter), inverted and over exposed. As if that wasn’t enough there are different settings for when you’re indoors or outdoors and it’s also possible to determine the luminance of the picture. There’s also a digital zoom function but I recommend against using it as it really slows down the player and on the highest zoom level it takes almost a second to update the screen which is way too long to be bearable and makes it close to impossible to take pictures.
As you can see to the right there’s a nice album function so you can watch all your photos in the MP3 player and naturally you can watch pictures that were not taken by the camera as well but copied from a computer.
There’s obviously a very shifting picture quality and the motherboard was photographed in bad lighting conditions and the details disappear pretty badly. The other pictures are taken with better lighting conditions and are clearly better but far from top quality. A lot of pixel noise is present but what could you expect from a 0.3 mega pixel camera? I’ve applied the inverted filter built in to the camera on the processor in the far down right and if anybody ever figure out what to use that for please tell me so. Please note that all these pictures are taken quite spontaneously on different places and occasions, nothing else except for the MP3 player was used, no stand or extra lighting, just my shaky hand.
That’s all that iRiver had to offer, now it’s time for another popular MP3 player that has been one of the best selling during the late spring. But is it worth being so popular? NordicHardware has the answer, time for the iAUDIO4.
iAUDIO4 has sold very well this year, and it’s been praised by most
reviewers. But the real question is if it can stand up against the new wave
of MP3-players that’s arrived. This is the old-timer of the bunch since it’s
been on the market and has already made a name for itself. So it’ll be exciting
to see if this player will fair well against the others, or everyone else is
wrong and I thinks it’s a loser. Let’s find out.
|Formats supported||MP3, WMA, ASF and WAV|
|SEK per MB||7.80 Kr|
|Type of display|| 128*64 pixel display with
124 different colors
|Battery type||1 AAA 1.5 volt|
|Battery life: (given by manufacturer)||15 hours|
|Functions:|| – Radio
– Line-In (recording from sound source)
|Frequency range||20Hz – 20kHz|
|Output power:||13mW per channel (16 Ohm)|
|Size: (WxHxD)||75mm, 17mm, 32mm|
|Weight:||33 Grams, w/o battery|
|MSRP:||2000 SEK (Exchange rates)|
The specifications aren’t that great, the only thing that’s makes
it stick out from the crowd is the colorful display, more on that later. Some
people might not like the lack of support for OGG vorbis, but I’ve personally
never used it for anything but to try it out. MP3 works fine for me, I haven’t
felt the urge to switch. The cost per MB is reasonable and it’s the smallest
player in the test. The weight is slightly less than the others also. The Line
In function is good for recording a radio program digitally and you don’t want
to mess with tape recorders or other ancient equipment. You can also record
songs from your friends MP3-player. Just don’t spread it, since that would be
copy write infringements and you could end up behind bars or getting slapped
with a ticket.
The battery life is rather good considering the single AAA battery
powering the unit. I haven’t done any scientific tests on the battery because
it’s just too boring and time consuming. I did however do some calculations
and figured out that the player was on for about 13.5 hours before it gave up
completely. During that time I used the power-hungry disco display function
to show some people, so 15 hours isn’t impossible. Please not that I use high-quality
Duracell Ultra M3 batteries, you may lose a couple hours depending on your choice
iAUDIO4 comes with four different memory choices; 128, 256, 512
and 1024 MB. I had the 256 MB version. They’re all identical except for the
color that can be either black or the, in my opinion, better-looking silverish
|What’s in the box?|
iAUDIO4 has, just
like the previous player, a pretty heavy box, and that would indicate a nice
| – Player
– Head phones
– USB cable
– USB connector
– Line-In cable
– Canvas bag
– Neck strap
– A manual
– Install disc
The were no extraordinary
things that came with the iAUDIO4, just the most basic equipment. The included
manual is really thick and has a lot of good stuff that’s easy to read. It’s
in three languages, English, Spanish, and German. It definitely passes. The
Line In cable is good to have when you want to record from some other source.
A length of about 150 cm is great, and it has regular 3.5mm connectors in both
ends. The little USB-connector in the middle is great, you don’t have to have
a cable when you want to transfer files from another computer. It lets you plug
the player directly into the computer’s standard USB-port.
The neck strap
that’s included isn’t anything worth mentioning. A plastic coated chain with
a tacky lock doesn’t feel very luxurious. Still, it’s a clever attachment device
which lets you easily remove the player if you don’t want id hanging around
your neck. The company will definitely have to come up with a better strap for
it’s next release.
The bag, however,
is really good. A real canvas bag that’s form fitted and looks good. The gray
bag is attached with a small lock on the back-side and you can access all buttons
and control wen using the bag , even the microphone. There’s a clip on the back
for a belt, and the display is protected by a thick silicon plastic that won’t
break easily. Simply a great bag.
The included USB
cable differs from the others in that it’s transparent, and goes well with my
otherwise cool computer. One meter is plenty of cable.
iAUDIO4 Head phones
|THD: (Total Harmonic Distortion)||–|
|SPL: (Sound Pressure Level)||–|
|Cord length:||~1 meter|
The included head
phones have a peculiar look, it’s hard to describe but they are higher that
usual for starters. The main body doesn’t actually touch the ear, but rests
a bit away from it. For me it feels perfect, but those with a differently shaped
ear will probably not like it since they’ll probably fall out easier. They’re
not symmetric, the round part is slightly larger on one side, which is give
good ergonomics if you ask me. As you can see in the picture, there are three
large openings in the protective rubber which I found not to disturb the sound
at all. It’s nice to have the rubber keep the cold steel away from the skin.
I can’t really find any draw-backs with these phones regarding the ergonomics,
except that they stand out slightly more than others, they just aren’t as slim.
I haven’t been able to find any information on the phones, but the name is at
The sound quality
is actually really good. They’re not a brand name, the company is called Cresyn,
and to be honest, I had never heard of it before, until I received the iAUDIO.
As I said before, the sound is really good, and surprisingly powerful for such
small phones. The special (and comfortable) shape makes a very good seal, which
gives a little more support to the lower frequencies. The BASS reproduction
is exceptional, in other words.
First of all I have to mention that the iAUDIO4 is the test’s smallest
player, a priority for some, but I think all the players are sufficiently small-
Perhaps the iRIVER is slightly obtrusive. When everything needs to be made very
small, it becomes increasingly difficult to squeeze the technology into an enclosure
and at the same time place the buttons in an intelligent way. We’ll have to
see if Conwon succeeded in doing this with its iAUDIO4.
There isn’t much on the front side, just the multi-colored display,
an iAUDIO label, the aluminum frame that comes in two colors, and a tiny hole
for the microphone. All the buttons on are on the sides of the player, and since
the buttons are small and discrete, the player altogether looks clean and stylish.
There are three buttons on top; Play/Pause, Mode, and Record. They’re
very small but aren’t difficult to find or push. On the end you’ll find the
Hold-button, which locks all other buttons so you don’t press them by mistake
when the player’s in your pocket. Every MP3-player should have a button like
this, it’s more of a necessity than just a commodity. The Skip-button surrounds
the Play-button. With it you either advance songs, or fast forward/reverse by
holding it down. The button is activated by simply tilting it to either side.
There are only two buttons on the bottom; a regular button for accessing
the menu, and yet another tilt-button for controlling the volume.
One short-side houses two 3.5mm jacks. One is for your head phones,
and the other is for Line In. It can be easy to mix the two up at first, but
you quickly learn to distinguish the two (unless you of course look at the tiny
icons below each jack). You can attach a strap to the metal bar that sits next
to the audio jacks. Not the easiest task, but with a little patience and luck
you can manage to get the string through the hole.
One especially irritating aspect is the battery lid. It’s very easy
to lose, since you have to remove it every time you plug the player into your
computer. It disappears in all the junk on my desk every time I take it off.
I don’t understand why it covers the USB connector, it’s not terribly ugly.
I think Conwon should have designed a lid that’s permanently attached to the
player since you have to take if off a thousand times every day when downloading
songs or changing batteries.
The box boasts a stylish and exclusive aluminum casing… I’m still
looking for it. They may be alluding to the aluminum frame, but to call it exclusive
and stylish takes the meaning out of the words "style" and "exclusivity".
It might help if it were polished, it would at least resemble aluminum. It does,
in some way, add a sense of robustness instead of using plastic.
The screen on the iAUDIO is a little special. Besides having a pretty
high resolution, you can change the back light in 124 individual steps. There
are three bars with four steps in each. Every combination produces a unique
color. I personally like the dark, colorful, and solid colors myself, i.e. you
take one bar to the max and leave the others alone. That gives you all of three
different colors; red, green, and blue. All the other colors are dull, but there’s
always someone that’ll appreciate them. The contrast is till sharp though, and
with 124 different colors you can personalize your player a bit.
The tiny dimensions
don’t allow for any extras on the iAUDIO4, but the player is, on the whole,
a nicely designed player with a a few flaws, such as the battery lid, and
the not-so-flashy aluminum frame around the player. The display is sharp and
has a high resolution. The many colors is a welcomed feature, even though most
colors just look washed out, and don’t really fulfill their function.
iAUDIO4, as you know, has an oblong display, which can have a variety
of different colors. The displays large size should contribute to an easily
navigated menu since you can fit several characters on it. The player turns
on by a press on the Play-button and you see a splash screen with a dancing
figure and a frantically blinking display. A second press will skip the intro
and start playing the song immediately. When in the MP3-mode, you can press
the Menu-button on the bottom and access the play list (press-and-hold) or go
straight to the menu (quick press).
The menu has a lot of interesting things. JetEffect is the first
thing to pop up. It is the name of the collection of excellent equalizer-settings
on this player. First, we find a regular five-band equalizer with presets for
various music styles, and you can of course store you own setting also. Below
the JetEffect are the so-called BBE-effects that can clean up the sound from
a compressed file, and it actually works pretty well. Mach3Bass enhances the,
as the name alludes, lower frequencies, and even it works very well. The sound
doesn’t end up so "artificial" as with many other players. And as
if that weren’t enough, ConWon has also implemented MP enhance which "re-builds"
the digital sound files to their original state, or at least it tries. The process
works somewhat, some songs end up sounding strange, while most of them end up
sounding a little better. There’s even a 3D surround effects alternative. I’ll
spend a little more time on iAUDI4’s equalizer, since it, combined with the
superb head phones, gives a great audio experience, definitely the best in this
There are several more settings in the menu to mess around with.
The display has received a little more attention when it comes to controllability.
You can also configure the lay-out of the display really well also, everything
from the speed of the fast fwd/rev, to to showing how much remains of the song
instead of how much has been played so far. All the settings exist that you
could ever need, even the least important like checking the battery voltage.
The other functions – Line In, Voice recording, and FM radio – are
reached by a small click on the Mode-button. If we start with the radio, it’s
very easy to use, you just can’t misunderstand it. 20 station pre-sets is a
nice feature. You can even record anything playing at the moment. The Line-In
recording works just as easily, you simply press the Record-button and off you
go. Voice recording works just like Line-In, and quality is excellent, no trouble
recording a conversation to be heard later at home on a bigger system.
iAUDIO4is delivered with two different programs on a disc. The first
one is JetShell which is a standard program for transferring files to the player.
It’s a simple program that looks very much like the Windows Explorer. You have
a little better overview, and there’s a small integrated media player at the
top. It also has good tools for changing the bit rate and file type as well.
A sound program that’s fast, and easy to learn, since most people already know
how to navigate Explorer.
The other program is a very advanced media player that can handle
all types of media. It’s also a great karaoke machine. The program is fast,
and you can have music playing quickly in spite of the many buttons. It’s not
good with overviews though, and may songs will slow it down considerably. In
any case, it has several settings of useful, and not do useful functions. New
skins are available for downloading on the Internet if you’re looking for a
more individual style JetAudio. But I’m still not convinced enough to switch
from the over mighty Foobar.
Jens Of Sweden has released a new player that’s investigated on
the following three pages.
Jens of Sweden is a well known brand here in Sweden and their MP-100(MP-110) is one of the most sold players for the last and preceding year, the iPod of flashplayers you could say. This is the company’s third player and the second wasn’t the success they had hoped for, it was ugly and then they had to remove the FM transmitting module due to Swedish laws. JoS hopes this new tiny and gorgeous player will make them kings of flashplayers again.
Jens of Sweden MP-130
|Music support||MP3, WMA, ASF and OGG|
|Price per MB||8,20 SEK|
|Display||Two color OLED|
|Battery||Built in, 520 mAh|
|Battery time: (according to manufacturer)||
|Functions:|| – Radio
– Line-in (recording from sound source)
– OLED display (Organic Light- Emitting Diode)
|Frequency range:||20Hz – 20 KHz|
|Output:||13mW per channel (16 Ohm)|
|Size: (WxHxD)|| 79,5 mm x 15 mm x 31
|Recommended price:||2100 SEK (Exchange rates)|
The specifications aren’t exactly extraordinary, small and light is at least one thing we’re sure of. OGG-support is good, but perhaps not something that will affect the final judgment, I don’t really have any reasons to abandon MP3 and switch to OGG. It’s suppose to improve sound quality, but I can’t say it’s enough to switch from the well established MP3.
The battery time is ok and with a fresh battery it’s suppose to go a full 18 hours, and it does. As with the earlier players I haven’t done a super exact test with a stop watch but used it as a normal person would, switch from song sometimes, move around between different equalizer settings and brag about it to other people. With regular use I managed to reach about 16 and a half hour, more than acceptable since Jens of Sweden probably measured the battery time without using the screen at all.
The output isn’t extraordinary, but size doesn’t matter as the old saying goes, we’ll see how it passes the power output test later on. The display is probably something many people will focus on when looking at the MP-130, which isn’t completely unjustified since an OLED-display is really beautiful, at least considering it’s mirror effect. This technology has been hyped quite a lot lately and the thought is that OLED is suppose to replace the aged LCD-technology. In general OLED consumes less power than LCD since no background lighting is needed. Except from that they are cheap and easy to make and there are no problems with viewing them from the side without colors being distorted and/or inverted.
MP-130 is available in two sizes except 256 MB, 128MB costs about 500 SEK less than 256MB and the big 512MB costs right now 2700 SEK.
|What’s in the pipe?|
The small aluminum pipe doesn’t bode well for a big set of accessories.
| – Player
– Headphones built into the neck tie
– Line In-cable
– A ”checklist”
As you can see MP-130 doesn’t have a lot of accessories. If we start with the Line In-cable it’s a simple cable with a 3.5mm-connector in both ends and the length is about a meter, no need to discuss this any further. The neat USB-jojo that comes along is really convenient and other manufacturers should definitely follow JoS example. Except from taking up less space in the pocket the cord can’t tangle, a perfect complement to the built in USB-connector when you have a USB-port on the front of the case.
The neck tie is made of cloth and feels good against you skin. The attachment to the player is a little loop that is attached through a hoop on the players top. The special with this neck tie is that the headphones are attached to it, they can in other words not be used without using the neck tie. Clever move if you use the headphones that comes with the player but not so clever if you want to upgrade but still use the neck tie, you can of course have have the old hang there, but how good looking is that? You can remove the player without loosening the tie, there is a snap lock at the end of it.
The ”manual”that comes with the player is a simple folded paper with the basic ”how to get started ”-instructions. No pictures or anything else that might ease the eyes but plain text, not much to send along, but the aluminum pipe is pretty crammed as it is. The real manual can be downloaded from the homepage where you can also find software and firmware updates for your MP-130.
As mentioned above the headphones are attached, or smashed together with, the neck tie, there isn’t a chance in hell you can reach you pocket no matter how tiny you are. It’s 40cm of cord we’re dealing with here.
Jens of Sweden MP-130
|Frequency range :||–|
|THD: (Total Harmonic Distortion)||–|
|SPL: (Sound Pressure Level)||–|
|Cord length:||~40 cm|
Recognize the headphones? It’s no illusion but the same type that mobiBLU DAH-900 uses, that I reviewed earlier this year. They fit nicely and doesn’t chafe or anything. No cushions though, but they are still comfortable. The length if the cord to the neck tie itself is about 20cm, which is just about right.
The sound is descent, they aren’t the worst but not the best. Average in other words. The sound is clear and nice, but there is no real bass, the treble is ok, but nothing to cheer about. If you want to experience the max of your new mp3 player a new set of headphones would help.
The MP-130 isn’t big, it’s one of the first things we
notice. It’s almost identical in size with iAUDIO4. Jens Of Sweden’s
goal with this player is probably to create a stylistically pure and elegant
machine that any one with some taste for fashion could buy. But that remains
to be seen.
The front doesn’t have many buttons at all, only a joystick that have five
different modes. Besides the normal left/right, up/down, you can also push it
down and get a menu and register over all songs stored in the memory. Although where
you expect to find the display you find a mirror. But where is the display
then? Well, it’s under this mirror and how it works you can read about
The three silver buttons on the side above the display are small but stands
out a little so you can find them in darkness. The Hold-switch is pulled to
the right to lock the buttons and it is also pretty small. They have overall
good finish and feeling.
On the upper side there are three interesting things. First we have the obvious
socket for headphones and beside it we find the smaller socket for the Line
In-cable. Why they have chosen not to use standard 3.5 mm sockets is a mystery
to me. Probably it is to prevent people form plugging the headphones in the
wrong socket, unnecessary since you have to use Jens Of Sweden’s own
cable to use the Line In feature.
Between these sockets are a little triangular steel profile that you can tie
your key chain/necklace in, stable and good.
The solution for the USB-plug is one of the best I have ever seen. For once
you don’t need to bring a cable with you, if you planned to take home
some files from work. It has happened more than once that when you going to
save all the work to continue at home, and you haven’t got the cable with
you. JOS has putted the USB-plug behind a little hatch witch you pull forward
and back. It can be a little problem to connect the player behind the computer
but if you have front mounted USB-plugs there should be no problem.
Now we have come to one of the most interesting things on this player, the
display. OLED-displays are not something ordinary with MP3-players.
But I can promise that OLED will replace LCD in within the near future. OLED
doesn’t need any background light, it glows by itself. This saves a lot
of power, and it is a very important in just about everything that contains a battery.
And that OLED also has full watching angle doesn’t make it worse exactly.
In this case they have chosen a OLED-display with two colors, orange and a
Jens of Sweden has chosen to mount it’s OLED-display behind a see through
mirror. This is of course very cool and original, but is it good in the long
run? I regret to answer no, it’s nearly impossible to see anything in sunlight,
you get completely blend by the light. So for anyone that does his/hers makeup
every half hour this mirror would be great, but to us normal users its not so
good. Its cool but not very functional. I let you decide witch comes first,
cause its clearly very cool that it is a small display behind the mirror. Too
let you really understand that it is a real mirror, I have photographed it with
my camera. Picture below.
When you see the display its really good. The two colors contribute to a nice
screen and the little special lighting gives a comfortable feeling. But it is
the tests smallest display, do not believe that the whole mirror area is display,
its only a small area in the middle.
Jens Of Sweden’s latest creations has a fairly small display in comparison
to the others. A small display is not to be preferred if you’re going to make
functional and easily navigated menus. Though MP-130 has the advantage of being
able to use two colors (blue and orange), so it’s easier to set up a more easily
understood menu system that way.
The player is turned
on by a little press on the play button. You’ll be welcomed with logos (you
can make your own) and a notice about the fact that you are holding a Jens Of
Sweden MP-130 for the moment.
The menu is easily
reached by a push on the joystick on the side and if you hold it you’ll enter
a list over the songs available on the player.
The two colors are diligently used to create an overview. Now that you’re in
the menu, there are nine main categories.
The display settings are many and it has even got its own main category. You
can for example set the time of how long the fade of the display will be, thus
saving power. Also the equalizer has been well worked through. In addition to the
old usual one with a few presets and a user-defined one, we find WOW-effects.
They are thought of as creating more space in the music and that they make the
music feel like its played from speakers and not small earpieces.
They work fairly good, and if you turn the effects up too much it sounds pretty much
like crap; there’s to much echoing and other drivel.
SRS, Focus and Trubass in adequate amounts (they are the three hiding behind
the name WOW) gives a little lift for the sound but not as good as iAUDIO’s
When you’re in
play mode the display is filled with a lot of numbers, colors and other things
that you want to know about the music you’re listening to.
It’s a little too messy for me but sure, it’s good to know just how the MP3
player is set up and in which folder the song is in but when you have such little
space for it perhaps you should remove some of it. Some nice-looking equalizer
visualization with nice stacks isn’t here unlike the other players – but I can
manage without them. Anyway, MP-130 is very fast since the OLED-technology is
fast and you can control almost everything on the player with the joystick –
easily navigated but a little too messy on certain places.
The other functions
are Line-In, voice recording and FM radio. Line-In works flawlessly and there
are some settings to choose between – nothing to complain about here. The voice
recording works just like Line-In, the same user interface and settings. The
quality is fair and an ordinary conference or a lecture are excellent to record
and listen to afterwards. I can’t complain about the FM radio either – it has
the usual functions with preset and programmable channel settings. The reception
is adequate even though it can’t be measured with an ordinary tuner for home
Jens Of Sweden
doesn’t send any software with their MP-130, but offer an application free from
the web site if you need it.
It’s not an application for file transfer but for making your own backgrounds
that are shown when the MP-130 is powered up.
The application is really nice – it looks like it’s from the times when
people still ran Windows 3.11. At least it works and it’s pretty easy to do
backgrounds with it, though the user interface is a bit ’out of date’, as I
Time to go on to
a player that is manufactured by Northern Star – fresh on the MP3 player market.
Will it be able to fight the giants?
Northern Star is a brand that not everyone has heard of, its a relative
small brand and haven’t done an MP3-player before as far as I know. Northern
Star is celebrated in the media for it’s excellent tv’s with plasma screen,
anyway now they have done a machine called NS-Xen-205. The special about this
MP3-player is that the chassis made out of pure metal, with calls for great
|Supported formats||MP3, WMA and ASF|
|Price per MB|| 5 SEK Exchange
|LCD, negative back light|
|Battery life: (given by manufacturer)||16 hours|
|Features:|| – Radio
– Voice recorder
– Line-in (recording from source)
-TTS (Text to Speech)
|Frequency range||20Hz – 20 KHz|
|Output power:||20mW per channel (16 Ohm)|
|Size: (WxHxD)|| 75 mm x 19 mm x 35
|Weight:||40 Gram excl battery|
|Recommended price:||2600 SEK (Exchange rates)|
The specifications are very nice to look at, the highest output
power in the whole test. The size is great also, perfect in my opinion. With
the metal shelf kept in mind, one can think that Xen would weigh a some more
than the other players. But so isn’t the case here, 40 gram without the battery
is no problem to carry around. The Text To Speech feature might be a little
interesting, cool but completely useless. The small display I will address later
The battery time is completely acceptable with two AAA-batteries
as power source. Neither is 18 hours any dream time cause I managed to get approximately16
hours with normal use and two Duracell M3 batteries. 18 hours should not be a
problem if you just listen to music at a decent
The NS-Xen are available
in many sizes and colors: The 512MB versions comes only in white, 128 and 256
only comes in the nicer black color. At the time of writing the 128MB version
cost 1500SEK and if you add another 500SEK you will get the 256MB version.
|What’s in the box?|
The small white
box doesn’t seem to be to filled, and its not good-looking either, but that doesn’t
really matter as long the player is good.
| – Player
– Head phones
– Line In-cable
– Installation CD
It’s only the
most essential things that comes along with the Xen, no comfy bag nor battery charger.
If we start with the manual; Its a quite pleasant creation with 70 pages in
english. A lot of pictures and pedagogic text that makes it easy to understand.
The USB-cable is a regular big USB-plug in one end and a smaller in the other,
however not the same as the others players, this has a little different shape.
The cables length is about one meter. The Line-in cable is about 50 cm long
and has regular 3.5mm-plugs in the ends.
The elegant neck
strap is made out of imitation leather and is really durable as it is beautiful.
It ties up in a loop on the top of the MP3-player and the small cylinder at
the bottom can be taken apart. Its a really good feeling in this strap.
NS-Xen-205 Head phones
|THD: (Total Harmonic Distortion)||–|
|SPL: (Sound Pressure Level)||–|
|Cord length:||1 meter|
The head phones that comes
along with the Xen are very unsymmetrical, a little strange shape on them. But
they’re real comfortable and they fit really good in the ears. Not a chance that
they’ll fall out. The rubber protection around the grating, just like the prior
two players. The long cord is long enough to have the player in the pocket if
you don’t want it around your neck. The Head phones are very pleasant in the
ear and they are almost the most comfortable phones in the test, they share the
first place with the iAUDIO head phones when it comes to comfort.
sound doesn’t match the comfort. There are no ”space” in the phones and it really
feels that you are wearing the phones, this is not something to strive for.
You would like to have as good space feeling as possible. The base and treble
lacks point and doesn’t put out from the music, a little boring sound. The sound
is as clear as glass and has average song quality but you have to get new phones
to get a total sound experience.
NS-Xen has the
classic squared form with a joystick as main control. It’s not much larger than
an ordinary lighter and fits in every man’s pocket or neck.
White, a color that is unusual for MP3 players, feels pretty luxurious and you
get the feeling that this is of high quality. The whole player breathes high
quality since all buttons and mounts feel very professional and the heavier
weight contributes to that.
The front is divided
into two sections. At the top we have the relatively large LCD display which
we look closer upon further down. The lower section contains the five-jointed
joystick (up/down, left/right and pressed) and four buttons that altogether
creates a border around the joystick. The buttons are chromed and have an enormously
nice feeling. The joystick as well has the same nice feeling as the remaining
To the right of
the display, the USB contact is seated under a little piece of rubber. Next
to it is the switch for the hold-button for the buttons.
Now we’ve reached the thing that makes Xen a pretty unique player. It has a
steel casing. The entire back and sides are made from a single piece of polished
steel. It gives a nice feeling to the whole player. As if it wasn’t enough,
they’ve made it incredibly good-looking as well. If it is because of my special
liking to things that shine or if it’s actually good-looking we have to leave
unsaid. It gives a small increase in weight, but I like things that have a little
weight so it’s not a drawback for me. Heavy Metal has gotten a new meaning.
On the gable above
the display we find two 3.5mm connectors, one for headphones and one for Line-In.
Clear symbols show what’s supposed to go in where. In between them we find a
little microphone to record bits of sound, conferences or whatever you want
to record. Parallel to the microphone we find the loop to tie the cord to. It’s
fastened to the metal shell so there’s no risk of the cord breaking in heavy
On the lower gable
we find a track that is screaming for me to put in a nail and pull some. Underneath
the two AAA batteries are hiding.
If you look close on the picture you can see hinges in brass (very nice). Stabile
and nice seems to be the keywords over at Northern Star’s office in Taiwan.
The battery door gets the highest grading as it melts in with the player, also
because it’s stabile and well constructed.
Northern Star describes
their display as an inverted or negative LCD. At first I couldn’t understand
what they meant but now I’ve come to insight.
On an ordinary LCD, the background has a color and the letters are black. Xen
has a display that is the exact opposite – the letters are colored and the background
is black. In this case the letters are red and as far as I know, players with
lesser memory are equipped with the same LCD, but with blue text. In my opinion,
this is very luscious and it reminds me of Jens Of Sweden’s OLED display, except
that it has a very high resolution and in addition a comfortable back light that
is just right. The contrast is adjustable to get the display just the way you
like it. What I’m missing here is a function that turns off the display completely
after about a minute. As it is now, only the light is turned off, but you can
still see text and such on the display to save batteries, though there’s nothing
that is saying it’s impossible to correct in future firmware. Anyway, this is
one of the most pleasurable and best LCD displays I’ve seen on an MP3 player.
A real delight for the eyes.
Northern Stars Xen-player has a proportionally large display and a high resolution, which gives a good overview with a lot of text. You will not be disappointed, the display gives a very sharp and clear view, with quite a lot of columns and pleasant little graphical icons. We can now begin to entangle ourselves in the menus.
You can reach the main-menu by pressing the button, just below the joystick. There are a variety of different main-menus and side-menus and it is very possible to configure most things you could think of. Everything to the contrast on the screen, to the current time, you have seen the clock in the upper right corner? You explore through the menu system with only the joystick and you can also explore the the player with just one hand, without it becoming to complicated. If you press the button to the right on the player, you will open a list showing what files are stored. There is only room for three songs at a time which in my opinion is very few, they should have done the same as they did with the menu-system, where they have room for five columns, and if you remove the headline at top you will have room for even more. It still works in any case, but it takes its precious time to flip through all songs if you have no memory space left.
Mean while in process of playing music you will be meet of a graphical equalizer placed in the upper corner which contains two peelers that vary to the beat of the music, not a necessity, but it makes the player a whole lot more pleasurable to look at when they move. You can configure the equalizer with the button located to the left, otherwise the equalizer is completely standard with a few preconfigured presets and you can of course make your own. Just like on the other 3 you have complete overview on the time, bitrate,song being played and which equalizer configuration you are currently using.
Radio, voice recorder and Line-In are present, it is almost becoming a necessity with these expensive players. If we start with the radio, all i can say is that it is as god as can be, you can store channel frequencies and configure it after which continent you are currently present at. Signal receiving is pretty good and if you live within a larger city you will have no problems in receiving. Line-In and voice recording look precisely the same and you have full overview of what you are recording and how you are recording it. A little hard in the beginning to decipher because of a whole lot of text with the same font size, but you will grip it after a while.
Included with the Northern Star player is a cd with one program on it. Music Friend as it is called is a typical program where you can convert, listen to music and of course transfer music. The program is easy to use and looks preferably nice. You can even upgrade firmware very easily and also you can configure your font settings, variety is fun they say.
We shall now descend to the file transfer test, its it important that it transfer fast when in a hurry.
We’ve reached the part where it’s time to test transfer speeds. I’m
going to run two tests, where the first one is to transfer a folder containing
a homepage of exactly 100MB in size. The timings are being calculated with the
help of an ordinary stopwatch. Since the iRiver player has to use an own program
for file transfers, it’s not possible to use a program to measure the times.
The second test is basically how long time it takes to fill up the memory of
each player respectively by having folders with music that are the same size
as each player’s memory respectively. For this test I’ve used an USB2 PCI-card
from Adaptec, though no players in this test supports the considerably faster
USB2-interface. It’s somewhat poor that they don’t implement today’s MP3-players
with this, since it’s not very expensive nor difficult to put in either. The
USB1.1 standard is starting to get old.
Transfer test, part 1
As you see it’s very close between the first three players. MP-130
and iFP-1090 even ends with the same timings. Though I can’t understand why
Xen is so miserably slow, I tried on many different computers sporting different
mainboards and operating systems, but still ends up approximately the same numbers.
Exceptionally for the iRiver player which doesn’t support UMS, you have to use
a separate program for this (new firmware is available on iRiver’s homepage
which supports UMS). Onward to the next test; to fill up each player’s memory.
Transfer test, part 2
We see that all players almost ends up with the same numbers. iAUDIO
has conquered the 1st place with JOS and iRiver close behind. Xen doesn’t seem
to be bothered with strain, 1000 seconds is enough for you to make a sandwich
and brew some fresh coffee. Still we don’t have any good explanation to why
Xen works so slow.
Next is the "in use" tests.
The power output test is important especially if you plan to get
a new set of headphones to you new MP3-player. If the headphones are of a bigger
model as the ones I use today a good power output is a must otherwise the sound
will be poor. Today I will use Koss UR-18 to find out if the power output is
enough. They are a set of 32 Ohm headphones, just like any other headphones
you can find at stores and that’s why I have chosen them.
This is a very pleasant experience. Already at volume 30 of 40,
I get a volume level that is more then enough. Neither has it any problem
to keep the membrane under control when its pumping on as worst. The
base and treble is clear and to sum up, I can only say that the iFP-1090
is excellent with a set of bigger headphones.
The volume isn’t a problem here but the sound starts to let go on simple
songs, which is a little boring. The depth of the base and the sound of
the treble is not a problem. A high volume together with a fast and heavy
song is something to recommend. I don’t think you should use your iAUDIO
together with big headphones, the ones that come along actually does a better
job with the iAUDIO4 then my UR-18 does.
Jens Of Sweden MP-130.
The first thing that hits me is that you have to turn to volume to max
to get a pleasant volume level, not much power in the headphones jacket
then. But is compensates it with excellent control of the membrane and
at max volume I don’t get much distortion no matter what song I play.
The base and treble are ok, but no more then that. Is recommended to the
person that plan to use big headphones, but if you have a set that is
more hard driven than mine its not going to be fun.
|Northern Star Xen 205.
The Xen has the highest output power and it shows. Already at volume
20 of 30 it starts to be a little loud. Distortion is in principle undetectable
even at heavy fast songs. The lower frequencies comes well in to place and
the treble doesn’t have a problem to be heard either. Very pleasant with
big head phones, highly recommended.
The Xen and iFP-1090 has to share the first place here with the other
ones on second place. I dare to say that every player will work out fine if
you buy quality headphones from Shure, Koss, Sennheiser or equal. You will have
to think twice if you plan to buy ordinary head hones to use with the iAUDIO4
or JOS MP-130, the Xen and iFP-1090 on the other hand should handle the task
That was the end of testing for today now the only thing that remains is to
wrap it all together, so lets go on to the next page.
Now we have come
to the most difficult part of the whole test, to choose a winner. First of all
I would like to say that all player that I have tested have been really good.
On a scale 1 to 10, there would be no one under 8 so you won’t be disappointed
with any of them. There is no clear winner but I feel that the NS-Xen is a small
step ahead of the others. The price ratio per MB is very good and the design
is good looking while functional. The metal chassis does it’s part to. On
second place I think the iAUDIO4 comes with the great headphones and good equalizer
as its biggest trump card. The MP-130 and iFP-1090 both comes in third place.
The iFP-1090 comes here because its much more expensive then the others and
also because its biggest player in the test. The MP-130 on the other hand falls
on its display, which you otherwise would think would be the best thing on it.
Its very good looking but completely useless in light. But you should keep in
mind that if I would grade them, they would get 8 out of 10. The other two get
9 and 9.2 so just because they finish first doesn’t mean they are bad players.
The iRiver breaks new grounds with its color display, a really good display.
The battery time is huge and the amount of accessories should be enough for
anyone. Good headphones and some nice functions, the camera doesn’t do much
but have a high cool factor. But it is the most expensive player in the test
and it is a bit large, and due to that it does not go all the way. For the ones
with financial freedom is this the one and only player but for us mortal is
it a little to much.
The iAUDIO4 isn’t big but it sounds like a whole orchestra. Nice headphones
and nice sound settings whom together make the sound very good. The many colors
on the background light is nice, and is pleasant with some change in the light.
The battery time is just too good for only one small AAA-battery. The accessories
are good and it comes with a real good bag which actually can be used. The backsides
are that it has a clumsy battery hatch and a little plastic look but it finish
in second hand because of the fantastic sound.
Jens Of Sweden MP-130
OLED-displays are a hot topic these days, its understandable. But JOS has made
the mistake of making the display to small and mounted it behind a mirror. Completely
useless in sunlight, when you has to hold it close to your eye and make it dark
to be able to use it. The built-in USB plug is and the ability to charge the
battery through USB, is very much liked and also the size is good. Comes in
at the same place as the iRiver, its a little more expensive then the iAUDIO4
which also contributes.
Northern Star Xen 205.
The Xen’s design really is something special, the metal chassis found its way
in to my heart directly.
Very user-friendly and has the tests best price per MB, even if you choose to
go down to 256 MB you get a decent price per MB. The display is really good
looking to be a regular LCD and the solid construction in every little detail
is just what makes this player a bit better then the others. But I do think
you should get a new set of headphones because the ones that come in the package
doesn’t match the rest of the player. The slow transfer speed is probably something
that bothers others but I think it is just a trifle that probably will be fixed
in an coming firmware.
+ Good battery time.
+ Color display.
+ Fairly good headphones.
– Clumsy design.
– The price.
– You need a firmware upgrade to use UMS
+ Good sound.
+ Good headphones.
+ The bag.
+ The display.
– Battery hatch.
– Plastic feeling.
+ Retractable USB-connector
+ Rechargeable through USB.
– Few accessories.
– The mirror.
– Small display.
+ Good looking.
+ Steel chassi
+ Good display.
+ Solid feeling in all small details.
+ Good price ratio per MB.
+ Average sound.
– The headphones doesn’t the Xen right.
– A little slow transfer speed
would like to thank all the manufacturer that have made this test possible.
Keeps your eyes open for future MP3-player reviews.