iRiver E10 (6GB)
- Remote control functionality, well priced, good quality audio
- Larger than necessary, video functionality irritating to use, some strange menu quirks
While the E10 does provide video playback in an attempt to one-up the nano, this functionality needs some work. Aside, this is a solid unit and should satisfy those after a multipurpose digital media device at a reasonable price.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
Every company and their friends are clawing for space in the packed portable media market, trying to dethrone Apple's dominance. The E10 is iRiver's shot at the middle of the market, competing with products like the iPod nano (2nd Generation). It comes sporting 6GB of storage, a competitive price tag and video playback capabilities. However while it does one up Apple in the video department, this functionality left a lot to be desired.
Our big problem with the video functionality was simply that no software is provided to encode it appropriately. The manual told us to drag and drop our files across to the video directory, which sounded fairly simple. However, after several failed attempts, we worked out the video had to be in a 128 x 128 pixel resolution exactly. Naturally we went to the provided software to remedy the situation, but were irritated to discover no such option was present. If you want to watch videos on this device, then you'll need your own, third party software, to convert the videos to the appropriate size. Formats supported include AVI and MPEG4.
We assumed music files would also be drag and drop, but unfortunately we were disappointed. Bizarrely, while video file support is completely absent from the included iRiver plus 3 software, it is a basically requirement when transferring music. The files will show up if you drag and drop them, as the unit is a mass storage device, however they can't be organized or sorted properly, meaning you have no real choice. This is especially puzzling considering how irritating the iRiver plus 3 software is. It is comparable to SonicStage in terms of how unintuitive it is and makes the whole process of uploading music a hassle.
The unit supports OGG and WMA file formats in addition to MP3 and thankfully its audio was quite good. We found the overall balance to be relatively neutral, with a slight tendency towards being dark, but this is a common situation with consumer audio products. Music sounded good overall, with nice mid range presentation, and the quality will more than satisfy most listeners.
Similarly, the E10's interface is intuitive and well laid out for the most part, although we did have a few quibbles with the controls. It uses four arrows keys, but no centre button, meaning the arrows also double as selection keys. So when navigating music for example, you use up and down to select a song, then the right arrow to begin playing it. That is simple enough, but when you want to then change tracks from the playback screen, you have to use the up and down arrows, rather than left and right. This isn't a huge problem, but it is the opposite of what the majority of users will be used to. Several such problems exist within the menu, and do prove a little irritating at times.
The E10 comes complete with all the standard playback options you'd expect, including shuffle and loop modes, as well as custom and preset equaliser settings. We found they had a noticeable impact on the player's sound and are great for tweaking things to your own personal tastes. As expected, playlists are also supported.
Aside from video playback, FM radio, voice recording and picture viewer are also present, as well as a small selection of relatively rudimentary flash games. However, it was the remote control functionality that really caught our eye. The E10 can act as a TV remote control, as long as your television is modern enough and made by a supported vendor (most big brand TVs are supported). It can change channels, power on and off and alter volume. In reality this may not be particularly useful, but for novelty value it is a nice touch, and could come in handy for the occasional prank.
Measuring 45mm x 96mm x 14mm and weighing 76g, the E10 is a little larger than some competing players, but still small enough to slip into the pocket and forget about. However, the design could have been a little more compact as there is a lot of wasted space on the chassis itself. We'd like to have seen a larger screen, which would serve to both fill the spare real estate and make video playback more enjoyable. The 1.5in LCD is of serviceable quality, but certainly won't impress videophiles as it is a little too small to make video watching worthwhile.
The quoted battery life is a whopping 32 hours, which we were a little skeptical of, and our testing quickly proved our instincts correct. The E10 lasted approximately 17 hours, playing a wide variety of media.
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