"Fatal flaws forced a quick return"0.5 starson by Sirocco
Pros: Meaningless in light of fatal flaws
Cons: Fast forward/rewind cause havoc
Summary: RE: The iRiver H10, 20GB mp3 player/recorder. Purchased 5/29/05. Returned 5/30/05.
The pros: it has a metal case and is heavy. These 2 qualities have always symbolized high quality. Even the blue color is a beautiful, deep color that’s not going to come off if a fingernail scrapes against it. The case even resists fingerprints. The materials and design of the case itself are, well, perfect. Esthetically, it’s perfect. I think even the crystal covering the screen is the same material used on expensive watches. In that regard this thing should be on display at MOMA (Musuem of Modern Art), and deserves respect. Hold the unit in your hand, even turned off, and you could just stare at the thing.
But, and I do mean but. Where do I begin? First, this device makes me rethink the whole concept of “portability”, that just because something is small, it’s portable. Because this thing is definitely small, and will fit in your pocket, in fact appears to be designed to be portable, but, sorry, it is definitely not portable – keep it at home on a table, where you’ll need to be to use it.
The design of this device is seriously flawed. Serious enough to cause a health hazard under some circumstances. Because by touch alone, it’s impossible to operate. I did not say difficult, I said impossible. But this is what people need to be able to do when they’re driving, jogging, biking, etc. (Warning, do not use this when biking.) You WANT buttons to stick out a little, to be distinguishable from other controls or the main case. In fact, to operate this thing, one must sit down, pick it up and VERY carefully push the right buttons or operate the slider. This greatly diminishes the utility, and portability, of the device. Half the time I was sliding my finger downward on the slider, the scrolling effect was upward! The buttons, all of them, are so flush with the main case, and small, they’re basically impossible to locate by touch alone. And the text on the screen is simply too small to decipher if one is doing anything else, such as running, driving, god forbid operating heavy machinery.
Here are some particular complaints, which you may agree are siginificant: You can’t delete files. I consider that to be an out and out defect.
The device receives FM, and will even record FM. It can even be programmed to record FM at a certain time, for up to 255 minutes in a single session (although the unit itself can store over 336 hours of recorded music, at the higher of 2 quality settings). That’s impressive. So let’s say I’ve recorded the H. Stern show, which lasts 4 hours. This thing will actually record and store 96 shows in their entirety. It records an entire 4 hour show as a single track. Now, evidently, the device is basically designed to play back tracks from the beginning of the track. But when I’m playing back a recorded show in my car, and get to where I’m going, I want to be able to leave and come back and start listening again at the point it last left off. Does this make sense? But since the unit always wants to restart the show from the beginning, I can’t do this. And I’m not keeping track, mentally, at what part of the show I last stopped listening, so even the ability to fast forward would not be helpful. So this is a serious problem. There’s another, more idiosyncratic problem with the fast forward/rewind function, when playing back long recordings (and even regular music tracks) that is quite honestly nerve racking and reason enough to make this thing unusable: You have to keep the button pressed down – if you slip and end up pressing the button for just a second (such as might occur when you’re running your fingers along the edge, feeling for the feather-touch buttons) the track suddenly starts playing back from the beginning! THIS IS A BIG PROBLEM!!! When I’m in my car, somewhere in the middle of a 4 hour H. Stern track, in the dark, and I want to fast forward through 15 minutes of commercials, and I don’t know exactly, or even generally, at what point in the show I am, I don’t want to suddenly be at the beginning of the show because my finger wasn’t pressing the button the right way!!!!! In fact, it should be IMPOSSIBLE to suddenly go to the beginning or end of very long recordings, unless the user specifically wants this to happen. The fact that this is LIKELY to happen at a time when it is least desireable is simply and comletely unacceptable. It is a *serious* design flaw. One doesn’t need a long list of design flaws to avoid buying something, all you need is one, and this may be it. IRiver gives me the ability to make long recordings - they need to give me the ability to play these recordings back in a reasonable time frame.
I don’t have any of these problems with my cassette tapes. Good ole, reliable analog!
This is either a problem or just irritating, you decide: the title assigned by the device to FM tuner recordings looks like Tuner050528003,mps (imagine small, hard to read text) which can’t be edited. Try looking for that from a list of similar titles while driving in heavy traffic. Or in the comfort of your living room, what’s the difference? Why not just display this information so it’s more readable, like May 28, 2005 #3, which is what it means. This actually takes up less space, and is obviously more meaningful, especially in light of the tiny text size, where the legibililty issue only compounds the problem of interpreting this “code”.
Would you spend $315 for this?
Some notes on sound quality: the quailty of the voice on a radio program I tested seemed OK, at the higher bit rate. And the preloaded music iRiver supplied was just fine, comparable to the FM reception, which is fine in my area. Some FM stereo music I recorded at the higher quality was, surprisingly, jumpy for the first 30 seconds. Ouch. It also has about 30 equalization presets (all mostly the same) plus an overly fussy 5-band graphic equalizer. But the shortcomings I described are way too critical to be compensated for by the cool graphics on the sharp, colorful display.
Another problem with sound: the line-in/line-out cable needs to be purchased separately. When you’re paying this much for something, everything should be included, and something as mundane as playback on a car stereo shouldn’t require the purchase of “special equipment”. I tried one of those FM transmitters in my car, which I happened to have already, and the degradation in sound quality was simply horrible, not to mention introduces static and other noise. In theory one may use one of those cassettes that have a wire coming out the side that sticks into the headphone jack, but please, more wires? Let’s everybody have a reality check: sound equipment needs to be built into the dash if you want high fidelity sound and to travel safely, without fussing with wires, batteries, and constant repositioning of the device to avoid static.
This device (nor possibly any MP3 device) is simply not a solution to any problem I’m aware of, nor is it fun, ultimately, to use. Long live analog!
iRiver. Who? I’ll stick with Sony.