iriver announced quite a few players at CES 2008 and now they are starting to tickle out. First was the E100, now the Lplayer- next the Volcano and SPINN to follow in the next few months. I was a bit concerned that iriver lost its way with the E100 which was a rather disappointing low end player. But now they are back on track with a slick design and nice build quality typical to iriver.
The LPlayer is very much like the clix family of players sans a few of the more advance features. While the LPlayer is another great iriver product, there is not a whole lot of innovation, just a solid player offering another choice to the mix.
- Quick Look
- Capacities: 2GB, 4GB, 8GB
- Screen: 2.0″ 262K Color LCD, 320×240
- Battery: 12 hours Audio, 4 Hours Video
- Recording: Mic, FM, FM Scheduling; WMV
- Audio Codec Support: MP3, WMA, OGG, ASF, FLAC
- Video Codec Support: MPEG4 SP / WMV9 SP / XVID SP
- Photo File Support: JPEG / BMP / PNG / GIF (Enlarge x2 – 640 x 480)
- Sound Enhancements: SRS WOW, HD Sound, EQ Presets, 7-band Custom EQ
- Transfer Protocol: MSC (UMS)
- Dimensions: 60.0mm x 43.0mm x 13.0mm
- Weight: 41.2g
- Languages: Korean, English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese
- Text File Type: txt
Inside the box: Earphones, Standard USB cable, CD manual, Quickstart guide, Lplayer. Don’t expect too many aftermarket accessories for the LPlayer, but you will definitely be able to find the basics like various cases, lanyards, and screen protectors. Iriver may release some kind of exotic dock like they did for the clix2, but don’t count on it.
While design is always subjective, I have always appreciated the clean modern lines of the iriver family of players. This one is not different and easily fits into the group.
I was a bit worried about the build quality since I was unimpressed with the quality of their last entry to the market, the E100. I am happy to say that iriver is back on track and does have the typical iriver feel to it. I would equate it to the quality of the clix2.
The 2” 320×240 pixels 262k color screen may be tiny for a QVGA screen, but there is no sacrifice in quality. It’s crisp, bright, color accurate; common to other 262k color QVGA displays of qulity. It is however hard to see outside like many LCD displays but more so since the screen covering is a bit more reflective. Even turning up the brightness you would still be hard pressed to see it by shading the light with your hand.
Battery life is rated a bit on the low side, but considering its size it’s somewhat excusable. Under real world test I got around 10-11 hours of audio and around 3 to 3.5 hours of video.
At the time of reviewing the firmware version was 1.01 and I have yet to notice any serious bugs. I did have to upgrade the firmware from an earlier version that came installed at the time of purchase, but this is a simple task handled by the iriver Plus software or a simple firmware updater downloadable from iriver’s website. Inevitably there will be updates in the future but overall the current version is stable.
One thing that is great about iriver products is the consistency in the interface. Since the U10, the predecessor to the first gen clix, iriver has used their own interface they call the “d-click”. It is a really simple set up mainly using 4 directional buttons located on the edge of each side of the screen and sometimes an option button, a power button, and volume controls.
The LPlayer is set up like the clix/clix2/U10 with the buttons located behind the screen, but only adds an on/off button and plus and minus volume controls, with a hold slider on the back of the player.
While I don’t know if I would call the “d-click” UI a “pick up and use” interface it is easy once you get the hang of it. The learning curve may be a day of solid use at the most.
The LPlayer covers all bases and allows you to manually select MSC or MTP. For those unfamiliar, MSC will function like a thumb drive on any modern OS whether it be Mac, Linux, or Windows. Simple drag and drop will get media on to the player. If you are only going to use it on a Windows OS, XP SP2 or Vista, then you should set it to MTP. MTP will function just like a thumb drive allowing simple drag and drop, but does offer more flexibility for playlists and desktop media players. Playlists in MSC mode can be done easily with the included iriver Plus media player, but will be more difficult with other media players.
Are people still listening to the radio or am I ling in a sheltered world surrounded by digital media? For those who are still fans of the FM tunes you will be happy to know that the LPlayer does a good job of reception and autotune feature. It will also allow you to record stations in WMA 96, 128, 192 kbps bitrates. On the downside there are just basic recording features and will not do anything fancy like schedule or time record stations.
The player does also record with a built in mic, located on the bottom near the volume buttons at the same WMA 96, 128, 192 kbps bitrates as the radio. Many are usually curious as to if the player will work well with class room lectures. While I wasn’t able to crash a lecture I did do some test around the house. From these tests I would conclude that you may have some trouble if you are sitting way in the back. You mileage will vary, but you could definitely make it work sitting near the front of the lecture.
There are only two basic selectable themes. They are basically the same color and only really change how the main menu is changed. Since the LPlayer does not have Flash Lite, it cannot use the themes found on the clix/clix2. I suspect they may add more themes in future firmware updates.
The screen looks great along as do the photos shown on it. It’s a basic file folder view with thumb nails and slide show capabilities much like any other photo viewer. There are a few basic features such as rotation, 2x zoom, and deletion from the device, but really it’s a typical easy to use photo viewer.
The optimal size for these photos are the screen resolution of 320×240, but much larger sizes work as well. However, keep in mind that the larger the photo gets the longer it will lag when flipping though photos. For example, 5 megapixel images takes about 5 seconds to load or to change to the next one.
Like the previous iriver players the LPlayer also has text viewing, nice for keeping an address book or a phone number list. Just a basic txt file is needed. If the files are very large (max is 10 megs) there are features like “skip to” and bookmarking to help you navigate the text. Font size is also adjustable in small, medium, and large.
Video playback is actually pretty impressive for a small but relatively high resolution screen. Videos can be in MPEG-4, WMV, or XViD at 30FPS (bitrates vary by codec). At the time or writing this review the iriver Plus media player did not have the profiles to transcode to the LPlayer, but they will be in the next revision of the iriver Plus media player. But in the mean time, the E100 settings work just fine.
As many of the iriver products the sound quality is good, but nothing great. The LPlayer lacks extreme highs and lows and overall dynamics. But keep in mind that if you are not spending more than the LPlayer on headphones, then you definitely find the sound quality more than acceptable. My test bed consisted of the Shure SE530s and KRK RP5 studio monitors.
EQ & Sound Enhancements
The LPlayer has a thorough set of EQ settings with presets and a 5-band EQ. It also possesses SRS WOW and HD settings- these, like I mention in every review with players that have SRS sound enhancements, are useless. This could be my personal preference, but I feel it sounds too fake.
Disappointingly, there is not on the go playlists, not even a “quick list” or a “go list”. You still can make playlists, but you need to use any media player in MTP mode or iriver Plus for MSC mode. However there is a saving grace in that there are “ratings lists” where you can play all songs you have rated a particular star rating- 1 to 5 stars.
Audiobooks & Podcasts
For audiobook fans that use Audible, you are out of luck, there is no .aa support. However, if you rip your own audiobooks you will be pleased that they do allow for bookmarks. Bookmarks are placed as a list under their own menu in the main music screen.
Podcast Ready, which is a free podcast indexing program that resides on the player, is available in MSC mode only.
If you like iriver products you will like the LPlayer, since it’s the same great formula iriver has used on the popular clix line of players. But by the same note, there is nothing innovating. The lPlayer is the clix/clix2 minus some features and in a smaller form factor. Overall, it’s a nice package for those in the iriver camp and newcomers alike.
- Solid iriver Design
- Great looking screen.
- MSC/MTP User Selectable
- Good radio reception
- File Folder and ID3 Browsing
- Mediocre sound quality
- Screen difficult to see outside
- Not on the go playlist
- Weak Battery Life