iRiver S10 (1GB)
- Tiny design, Reasonably broad list of features, Intuitive controls
- Sound still a little lacking, Battery life is poor
The iRiver S10 is a great model in the entry level digital music player market. Its tiny design combined with great feature set makes it an attractive choice.
Price$ 149.00 (AUD)
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iRiver's S10 is a digital music player that fits squarely into the 'tiny' category. Its diminutive dimensions make it an ideal device to carry in your pocket or around your neck. It offers most of the features you'd want out of such a device, including an FM radio, voice recording and a five band equaliser, without sacrificing too much in the process.
One problem we tend to find with tiny MP3 players is that they suffer from poor audio quality. The latest Apple iPod shuffle (2nd Generation) is a clear example of this. Thankfully, this wasn't an issue with the S10. It offered a relatively dark sound, with lingering bass and strong presence across the whole lower register. It didn't sound as rich and detailed as some other, larger devices, but it more than adequately did the job, and should satisfy most non-audiophiles.
Of course, if you aren't happy with the default sound, there are several options to tweak it. The S10 comes with a five band equaliser, which had a fairly noticeable impact on the sound, as well as several bass and frequency boost options. We were able to use these settings to remove some of the darkness of the default sound, which will please users after a brighter or more neutral sound.
With the S10, the primary concern is size, and in this area it impresses. Measuring 42mm x 38mm x 10.8mm and weighing just 17.5g, it is only slightly larger than the iPod shuffle (2nd Generation), the product that it is clearly competing against. At this size, it is small enough to almost forget about and is a great, unobtrusive way to carry your music around. However it is also quite easy to lose, so we'd advise to ensure you keep it in a safe place.
iRiver is pushing several key advantages over the iPod shuffle (2nd Generation), including voice recording, photo viewing, alarm clock and most importantly, FM radio. We tested the radio, and found it was quite good, achieving excellent reception despite its rather small size. The auto scan worked well and we would recommend the S10 if you want some FM radio to complement your stored music. You are even given the opportunity to combine the two, with an FM radio recorder also present on the device. Hear a song you particularly like? Just open the menu and hit the record option and you're away.
Similarly, the voice recorder and picture viewer worked quite well. The 1.1in OLED screen looks quite good. We wouldn't be happy watching any sort of video files on it, but for menu navigation and photo viewing it is more than adequate. Our test shots looked impressive, with nice colour reproduction and good contrast.
Following in footsteps of the Clix (2GB), the S10 also has a rather interesting control system. There are volume keys on one side and a power button on the other, but all of the other navigation is handled by tilting the screen in one of four directions, so it literally doubles as a navigational pad. The four sides of the screen light up with icons indicating their current function, which changes depending on the menu you are in, and users just apply pressure to select. It works very well, is quite intuitive and definitely makes the user experience a little simpler. The unit supports most of the usual file formats, including MP3, WMA, ASF and OGG.
The only major downside to the unit is battery life. iRiver quotes it at eight hours, but that is under ideal conditions. Our testing showed it was more like five or six hours, which is quite poor for a flash player. Most tend to last ten or more hours, with single figure battery lives usually reserved for larger, hard disk players.
Overall, the iRiver S10 is a great product. If you're after a bite-sized digital music player that doesn't skimp on features and can handle charging it every day or two, it is a great choice and should provide ample competition for theiPod shuffle (2nd Generation).
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