While the E40 posted below isn’t anything overly exciting, iriver shows with the B100 that they still have some tricks up their sleeve.
Noticeable is the rather unusual 3:2 aspect ratio of the 480 x 320 pixel 3.1 inch capacitive TFT touch screen – it’s smack in the middle between the usual 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios, and it reminds of the higher end Palm PDAs of yore. That screen makes perfect sense on the B100, since it’s one of the very few (non-Android) portable media players that supports useful ebook formats – ePub and PDF, not just the usual plain text files.
While the B100 doesn’t play HD movies or sports an HDMI output, it still supports a lot of useful video formats in standard definition – MKV, MP4, and even MPEG Transport Streams are a few of those, next to the usual variety of AVI, WMV, and the like.
On the audio side of things we find iriver’s usual SRS sound enhancements (when will they switch to the far superior BBE bundle… nudge, nudge, wink, wink), an EQ with lots of presets, and FLAC, APE, and Ogg Vorbis playback, next to the MP3 and WMA standards. MP4/M4A/AAC support appears to be missing on the B100, though. It is unclear if the B100 sports gapless playback.
Other features are the usual FM radio, voice and radio recorder, image viewer, and a cheesy user interface that seems to come straight from the Cowon design department, sporting slogans like “romantic”, “lonely”, “relax”, and the like. One thing I’m missing on the B100 are tactile buttons. There’s only two of them, to change volume (and a “home” button on the front, which hopefully can act as a play/pause button). I wish the B100 at least had as many buttons as the Cowon S9 or J3 – that would make it a lot more practical to use on the go.
The B100 comes in puny sizes of 4 and 8 GB – but expandable via MicroSDHC cards up to 32 GB. Synthetic battery benchmarks claim a life of 36 hours for audio and 8.5 hours for video – not bad, if that turns out to be close to real life usage.
So far the B100 isn’t officially released in Europe or America, but I’ve seen it pop up in shady and not-so-shady import outlets and flea markets going for $120 to $240.