Iriver showed off many new devices at CES 2008 and from what I was told they actually plan on playing a bit more in the US market. An interesting device they showed off was the W7, with a 3” 260k color, 480 x 272 pixel touch screen. The player is flash based in 4GB and 8GB capacities with the option to add miniSD memory.
The W7 is a solid piece of hardware and an interesting interface that is basically a miniaturized media player typically found on a desktop. But, I think this player may only appeal to the hardcore gadget geek and one that is a big fan of a stylus interface.
I’m not going get too in-depth with this review since it may not make it to the US shores and if it does it will won’t be for a while. If there are significant changes or advances into the US market I will revisit this player at a later date.
If the W7 is something that is interesting to you, it can be purchased from Warehouse123. They have a lot of iriver products unreleased in the US and you can also get player before the US release. That is where I was able to purchase an iriver E100 ahead of the US release for review. Their prices are at a premium like any importer is, but they are very reasonable and cheaper than other importers from what I have seen.
Now onto the review…
- Size: 11.5 x 52.5 x 15.1 mm
- Weight: 103 g
- Capacities: 4GB, 8GB / miniSD expansion slot
- Screen: 3”, 260k Color, 480×272 pixel, touch based
- Transfer Protocol: MTP & MSC user selectable
- Supported Audio: MP3, WMA, OGG
- Supported Video: WMV9 SP, MPEG-4 SP (20FPS 480×272), H.264 BP, AVI – 30FPS
- Other File Support: JPG, TXT, CSD
- Other Features: FM radio, SRS Wow, Voice Recording, Flash Lite 2.0.2 / Games, Internal Speakers, Dictionary
Design & Build Quality
The W7 is made of a hard scratch resistant plastic with a matte finish which will hold up nicely to everyday wear and tear. The touch screen is a typical plastic coated touch interface much like you would find on any PDA. If you want to keep it looking fresh you may want to put a screen protector on it with all the poking and scraping you will be doing with the stylus.
On the top of the player there is a power button, menu button, and a hold switch for controls. Also located there is the miniSD slot. The miniSD card is hard to get in and out and the door is rather flimsy. The center control button feels solid and has a nice tactile click to it, but suffers from the same problems as the A3’s 5 way joystick; whereas on the down press you may end up clicking a direction by accident. Overall the W7 feels solid and like a high end gadget typical to the iriver brand.
The screen looks great and is similar to what you would want on a PDA. It is very crisp, quick and accurately displays color. Overall, I have no complaints about the screen.
The interface is a stylus based interface since it is difficult to use with your finger and the buttons are limited to what they can control. This is where I think iriver missed a great opportunity. There is plenty of screen real estate and the touch screen is very responsive; so a finger based touch interface would have been a real winner. For instance Canola2 which is a media player interface for the Nokia internet tables would have been something amazing for this device.
The current interface is a tiny desktop media player where you must point and click your way though buttons that are as small as 10×20 pixels. This does indeed work well and is power full since many features can be crammed on to the screen, but the interface is reserved for people who really appreciate a good stylus interface.
The bottom line is the interface is only a failure to fit to the mass market. It will however appease a certain niche demographic.
The sound quality is ok, somewhat comparable to the E100. While is has a good low end it is missing some clarity in the highs. The player has SRS WOW sound enhancements which to me sound way too artificial even at minimal doses. Additionally there are presets and a custom 5-band EQ.
The player does not feature bookmarks but there is a solid set of play list features for on the go use. You can add songs to one of five lists or you can also play lists based on star rating.
Video looks great on the screen, but t
he issue is like the E100 it is very picky on the exact format. I was able to natively drag and drop a few files in supported formats. However, many of them failed and the ones that played did not look as good as if they were converted.
Just like the E100 the miniSD slot will not integrate with your library. You must toggle a small touch button to view lists of media separately.
The player features a dictionary, thesaurus, and usage dictionary in English, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. The English section you may find useful, it really is not built for the English user. Menus and options are still in non-English characters.
There are some other features such as TXT viewer, photo viewer, and CSD viewer which are pretty basic and work like on many other players. But a quick mention that CSD is a portable document type that other documents such as Word and Acrobat documents can be converted into.
The W7 is a nice device, but I think it would have been much more compelling and a viable competitor if it was released a year ago or with a better touch interface. It would then be able to compete with very similarly functioning iAudio D2. That said it’s hard to get excited over a device that offers not much more than what was already available. I like iriver products a lot in general and was impressed with what they showed off at CES, but iriver always shows up to the party extremely late, well after the keg is kicked and everyone’s passed out.
The W7 is not yet available in the US you will have to find it from an importer like Warehouse123.