The E100 will be iriver’s first player to be released in the US since the clix2, which I was very fond of. This player comes in 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB capacities in several different modern colors. Audio codec is supreme supporting all the major licensed and open source file types. Video codec support is also very good, but most of the time conversion is necessary to conform to the 320×240 262k color screen.
There is a lot of familiarity with this player and keeps well to the iriver style and functionality. Do however keep in mind that iriver is trying to reach the lower flash player market and in doing so they had to sacrifice slightly on quality. Read on for an in-depth look at the iriver E100.
- Quick Look
- Dimensions: 92.8 x 47.8 x 11.3 mm
- Weight: 59.3 g
- Capacities / MSRP: 2GB, 4GB, 8GB / $90, $110, $160
- Transfer Mode: MSC & MTP User Selectable
- Battery Life: 25 hours Audio, 5 hours Video
- Screen: 2.4″ 320×240 pixel 262k Color
- Recording: Mic, External Mic, Line-in, FM Radio in WMA 96/128/192kbps
- Supported Audio: MP3, WMA, OGG, ASF, FLAC
- Supported Video: WMV9 SP, MPEG-4 SP, XviD SP (240×320 30FPS up to 320kbps WMV or MP3 Audio)
- Supported Images: JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF
- Features: micrSD slot, Internal Speaker, SRS WOW, TXT viewer
- Full Spec Sheet
Just the basics are in the box: earphones, standard USB cable, software, and the player. At the time of writing this there is not much available as far as additional accessories, but like previous product you can expect various types of cases and screen protectors.
Iriver has always been known for some fantastic looking designs; modern, minimalist, and fissionable. The E100 is no exception and closely follows this high-design trend. The player is wrapped in an all matte scratch and fingerprint resistant plastic. The screen is a hard scratch resistant plastic and is inset just slightly to fend off scratches if placed face down on a hard surface.
The build quality is really well constructed, but the materials feel a bit light hollow. It is all tightly assembled and overall good, but it fell short to my expectations of iriver’s premium brand.
This is one place where iriver cut corners; the screen is mediocre compared to the latest generation of MP3 players. For instance Sony, Samsun, and Creative have better looking screens. This is not typical to iriver since its W7 in this generation has a great looking screen. The main issue with the E100’s screen is the contrast ratio is poor- where blacks just are not black enough. Viewing angles are also poor, especially from the top down.
Software / Media Transfer
The E100 comes packaged with a disc containing iriver plus 3 media player, firmware updater, video converter, and Windows Media Player 11. If you have owned an iriver player, you are familiar with this software with the included iriver media player. This is a standard media player much like any other but has a few features catering to the iriver family of players, such as a firmware updater, ebook txt manager, and video converter. This media player is a bit different from Windows Media Player but still is straightforward and easy to use. If you don’t care for iriver’s media player you can always use any other MTP based media player to manage playlists and load your E100 since also included on the disc is a video converter and firmware updating utility.
If you don’t like to use media players to transfer the E100 will allow you to select either MTP or MSC transfer mode. This means it is drag and drop and also compatible with any OS. Drag and drop will work fine in MTP mode as well, but only if you are using Windows XP SP2 or Vista.
microSD Memory Expansion
The E100 has a microSD card slot on the top of the player. Currently you can add up to a 12GB card, 32GB when those capacities become available. Memory expansion is always a welcome feature, but this comes with a big caveat. The expandable memory will not integrate with the internal memory. Like witnessed with the outcry of potential Creative Zen buyers, this is a deal breaker for many people. Unless iriver fixes this in updates, many users will thumb their noses because of this lack of memory integration.
The E100 will get the occasional fix and improvement with firmware updates. There are two methods of updating, one for MTP and one for MSC file transfer modes. Both utilities are included on the supplied disc. This review is based on the 1.02 firmware.
Controls / User Interface
Previous iriver interfac
es have used what they call the “D-Click” interface which typically used the edges of the screen as the directional buttons like with the clix, clix2, and s10. The E100’s controls identical but are simply moved to below the screen to a separate control pad. The player does also have dedicated volume buttons on the right side with a power button below the volume buttons. Additionally, the hold switch is on the left.
Iriver’s UI has always been a strong point since they are easy to use and relatively intuitive. There may be a slight learning curve in that track forward and back are located on the bottom and top of the directional pad.
I have always given iriver praise for their interface, but this one lacks responsiveness and is somewhat sluggish. It will hang occasionally on menus and at times wont register and obvious click. Hopefully this is a firmware issue that can be ironed out, but overall it is just not as fun to use as previous iriver players.
On the back the player are two speakers each about 1 CM in diameter. They work quite nice for viewing videos in a relatively quiet environment, but it is not something that can be used in a car ride nor do you really want to listen to music from them. Podcasts or audiobooks however would be ideal.
There is an issue where you cannot use the radio on these speakers since you need a pair of headphones attached for the antennae and there is no way to manually select speaker output. Overall the speakers are handy but do have their limitations.
File support on the E100 is one of its strong points, considering it covers all the major audio codecs: MP3, WMA, OGG, ASF, and FLAC. The E100 lacks an on the go playlists but will handle playlists via iriver plus media player or any other MTP based media player. On the plus side bookmarking is available for long mixes and of course audiobooks.
Sound quality is ok, nothing too outstanding. The overall spectrum is well balanced, but it lacks clarity in the mids and is not open enough with a rather confined soundstage. You probably won’t notice unless you have a nice set up headphones, but if sound quality is one of the more important aspects you may want to look elsewhere.
The E100 features SRS WOW sound enhancements, much like BBE or Sony’s DSEE technologies, it reshapes the sound and tries to make up for compressed audio files. SRS WOW is probably my least favorite of all the sound enhancing technologies. I find it to be too artificial to be useful, however, you may find differently.
The E100 plays back WMV and XviD at 320×240 30 FPS, but seems to be very strict on these formats in that a slight variation in the profile it won’t play. For instance, I downloaded a few podcasts in XviD and WMV formats at the rated FPS and resolution; most of the WMV did not play and XviD played but suffered from choppiness and distortion at the bottom of the screen. However, once the video was run though the iriver video converter or media center the same two video types played and looked good- much better than when it tried to play natively. The bottom line is don’t expect to drag and drop videos and have them play natively; you will have to convert them.
The player is rated at 25 hours audio and 5 video. Audio was no where near the rated and fell around 20 hours under two test. For video it was about 4 to 4.5 hours. The speaker on or off had no effect on battery life.
Text Viewer: The text viewer is a simple application that allows you to view txt files by simply scrolling through them with the up and down button or playing them on the auto scroll feature. You are also able to add bookmarks and adjust the text size in small, medium, and large.
FM Radio: Radio reception is great on the E100 and the auto program feature does a good job of only selecting clear stations. Also note that headphones must be plugged in for reception and the radio will not function with the built in speakers. The FM radio will record in WMA at 192, 128, and 96kbps.
Recording Voice & Line In: The nice thing about having internal speakers it that it functions like a full on voice recorder allowing you to playback without headphones. The player also has a setting for an external mic. I did not have a mic to test, but I assume that this will change the gain of the line-in for external microphone giving you proper recording volumes. Line-in, external mic, and internal mic all have the same bitrate settings as FM recording- WMA at 192, 128, and 96kbps.
Photo Viewer: The player supports JPG, BMP, PNG, and GIF file types. This is much better than most players in that the majority usually only support JPG. However, it is not different from any other photo viewer with the ability to view thumbnails and play a slide show.
I understand that iriver was targeting a lower end market with the E100, but I can’t help but feel let down by this player. Maybe I was just too excited to get my hands on a premium brand MP3 player as iriver has always been. This is a text book example of difficulties branding across different purchasing segments- selling a lower quality product when you are a premium brand, consumers can be put off. On the converse it would be difficult for SanDisk to release a premium Sansa.
Lessons in brand management aside, the main downsides were the sluggish UI, mediocre screen, and lack of microSD library integration. Still, the E100 is well rounded in features, solid audio support, and a well tuned FM radio. The modern design, typical to iriver does well in fending off wear and tear.
Overall, the E100 is a decent player, but be aware that this is a player targeted for the lower end. To be more specific I would put it in the upper low end of the market.
- Great Audio Codec Support
- Very Good FM and Auto Program
- File Folder & ID3 Library Browsing
- MTP / MSC User Selectable
- Mediocre Screen – Poor Viewing Angles
- microSD does not integrate into main library
- No on the go playlists
- Sluggish UI
- iriver E100 vs SanDisk Sansa View
- iriver E100 vs Creative Zen
- iriver E100 vs Samsung T10
- iriver E100 vs Insignia Pilot
- iriver E100 vs Sony s610
You can pick up the E100 from Amazon at the best price usually with free shipping and no sales tax.