Remember those guys that in 2003 brought us the innovative H100 series player with optical S/PDIF output, and two years later the sturdy H300 “Soviet iPod” (as CNET called it) with changeable cover designs?
Yeah, they didn’t make many waves lately. They quietly released a lot of players, but they mostly went under the radar. The new E40 shows that they still stubbornly hold on to touch interfaces without tactile feedback, and the 220 x 176 pixel screen is right at home in a top quality player from 2005. Same goes for the supported video formats, which are MPEG1 and the proprietary/elusive/dead SMV container.
On the positive side, battery life on the E40 appears to be very good – 51 hours for audio playback is claimed. It also uses a standard MiniUSB port – not quite the MicroUSB port one would expect nowadays, but everything is better than some proprietary plug. Transfer protocol of choice is MSC, which is great as well. Next to iriver’s usual SRS sound tweaks, the E40 sports an equalizer with lots of presets, FM radio, recording (radio and voice), and an image viewer which is about as useful as a video player on the tiny low-res screen.
That being said, the price is right for what you get – the 4GB version goes for about $50 and the 8GB one for $70. No, it doesn’t have an SD slot.