iRiver iDP-100 MP3 player

The iRiver iDP-100 digital media player introduces to the market yet another medium for playing your music files while on the move: a media format named DataPlay. This optical medium is a tiny, encased, double-sided disc with a total capacity of 500MB. With the iRiver player, which has one slot for these discs, you can store secured MP3 files, WMA files, or even ASF or AAC music files.

Audio files are secured using the Future Player software that ships with the unit and you will notice that this process puts a CK in front of the file type - so an MP3, for example, becomes a CKMP3 file. This step is required because regular MP3 files - or other music files, for that matter - will not be played back by the unit unless secured in this way.

This device isn't limited to carrying music files, though. Once the iDP-100 is installed on your system, it will show up just like another drive in Windows Explorer. The accompanying software allows you to drag large data files to and from your device (however, you can't play back secured music files if you drag them to a PC). This is perfect for moving huge presentations from home to office, or even for archiving data. The DataPlay media has a touted life span of 100 years. At the moment, this media is write once, so you are unable to reuse discs, but at approximately $10 per disc you get close to 50MB per dollar. In the future, pre-recorded content may be available on these discs.

The media itself is astoundingly small in size at around 32mm, but the iDP-100 player is rounded with a plastic outer shell and is quite bulky in size, albeit very sturdily built (it also comes with a plastic sheath that can accommodate a belt clip). It incorporates a large backlit LCD display that will show you everything you need to know about the current state of your player and also has a number of buttons to control playback, volume and power state. A jog dial is implemented to access the comprehensive menu system on its on-board (firmware upgradeable) operating system, which features multiple play modes and EQ settings.

Music playback was a treat and the supplied earphones did a fine job reproducing high and low frequencies at a loud volume with no distortion evident.

As the player incorporates moving parts, it is prone to shock or vibration when the disc is being accessed, but during regular walking tests the player had no trouble moving from track to track on the disc. If you plan to use the player while jogging, you may experience long delays when the player tries to access an upcoming track on the disc.

A USB 1.1 cable is used to interface the iRiver iPD-100 with your PC. If you follow the user manual, converting, downloading tracks and copying data to it should be a breeze. I managed to fill one side of the DataPlay disc (around 250MB) in almost 20 minutes. The player features one rechargeable 3.7V lithium ion battery, which in my longevity test (with a looping playlist and maximum volume) lasted almost 10 hours of continuous playing time. A 5V DC power supply is used to power the unit externally.

In brief:iRiver DataPlay

For $695 and with a one-year warranty, this solid unit (available from Rome) is perfect for people who want a large capacity portable digital audio device that isn't as big as a CD player.

Price: $695.

Phone: 1800 997 663.

URL: www.rome.com.au.

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