Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
iRiver Clix (2GB)
- Gorgeous screen, intuitive menu system, good battery life, packed with features, excellent sound quality
- Video conversion software not included, screen edges are easy to trigger
There's certainly no shortage of pocket-sized media players on the market, but few have the quality and finesse of the iRiver Clix.
Price$ 259.00 (AUD)
iRiver is a well-respected name in the portable audio space, and the Clix is a product that cements that position. Offering a great screen, intuitive menu and excellent sound quality, it is a great option for those looking for a fully-featured portable media device.
Roughly the size of two matchboxes, the Clix measures 68mm x 45mm x 16mm and weighs 71g - slightly chunky for a 2GB media player, but still petite enough to cup completely in your hand. The Clix's design consists of an attractive black and white finish; the front is dominated by a 2.2in LCD surrounded by a thick black bezel, while the main body is constructed from a sturdy white plastic. The real highlight here is the screen - supporting 260,000 colours and a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels, it's nothing short of dazzling.
However, the display is more than just a pretty face. The Clix features one of the most innovative navigation mechanisms we've come across in a portable media player, eschewing dedicated playback buttons for context-sensitive controls embedded into each edge of the screen. During music playback, for instance, pressing the right edge will pause a tune, while pressing the bottom edge will skip the player to the next track. When scrolling through Settings on the other hand, pressing the right edge is the equivalent of pressing Enter, and the bottom edge is used for scrolling down.
This system works extremely well for the most part, as each screen edge is always labelled with the relevant control. The only drawback is that it's easy to accidentally trigger a control when you've got the Clix in a pocket or bag. This can be worked around by flicking the Hold switch beforehand, but it's still an annoyance. The standard screen orientation is landscape, but you can swap it to portrait mode in the display settings - both modes work equally well as the screen controls adjust to match the orientation.
The Clix's user interface is just as attractive as it is innovative, with layered menus and slick transitions between each screen. By default, the wallpaper is set to change for each day of the week using custom coloured backgrounds - this can be modified to display a random or specific picture from your photo library.
The Clix is about as full-featured as a portable media player gets, offering music, photo and video playback, an FM radio, text reader, voice recorder and Flash games.
Music formats supported are MP3, WMA, WAV, ASF and Ogg Vorbis. Sound quality is outstanding, and you can tweak the audio levels using one of 12 equaliser presets or the custom equaliser. The Now Playing screen is informative without looking cluttered, displaying niceties like album art, song rating and the next track to be played. Settings like the play mode, equaliser and song rating can be easily accessed by pressing and holding on the right edge of the screen - much more convenient than digging through various options in the Settings.
Video playback is limited to the MPEG4 SP format, so most movie files need to be converted. Unfortunately, Windows Media Player 11 doesn't perform this conversion automatically and iRiver doesn't supply any extra software in the pack to do this. Nor does the user guide provide any help for converting movies to a compatible format.
We used the free iriverter utility recommended on the iRiver website, and this performed the function admirably. Our 700MB test DivX file was transcoded in 22 minutes and compressed into a 346MB file. The Clix is only capable of playing video at 15 frames per second. Movies are fine to watch - with only a hint of jerkiness - although the 2.2in screen is a tad small for watching full-length flicks. Files are transferred with a simple drag and drop, although you can also use Windows Media Player if you wish.
The included Flash games are cute but basic, involving bunny rabbits and hapless lumber jacks, amongst other cartoon subjects. Slightly more sophisticated games are available for free from the iRiver Web site, including snowboarding, golf and Black Jack games. The FM radio is clear with good reception, and you can record directly to the Clix's built-in storage.
Up to 25 hours of battery life is respectable for a flash memory-based player, but having the screen on regularly and playing video reduces this figure significantly. Included in the box is a USB cable for syncing and charging, 3.5mm earphones and a soft pouch.
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