Friday, March 16, 2007

Tech: iRiver H10 mini-HD MP3 player

In some ways, the iRiver H10 is an obsolete piece of technology, a historical piece that's mainly notable as a curiosity. Manufactured by iRiver, a Korean consumer electronics giant, it's no longer advertised on iRiver's site. The H10 uses a mini hard disk drive, like the iPod Mini, but most of them (including mine) only have a 5 or 6 GB capacity. Newer flash memory players, like the new version of the iPod Nano, can obviously match and exceed this capacity, and with a smaller form factor.

The H10 has several smallish buttons on the side for control - these are hard to tell apart from each other and don't give very tactile feedback when pressed. The H10's primary control, though, is a vertical strip that houses a rudimentary touchpad. This is about as intuitive as the default scroll wheel for the iPod series, but longtime Apple users may find the switch jarring. In practice, the strip is pretty precise, but it's still a pain to scroll through long lists of songs.

Which brings us to the H10's love-it-or-hate-it menus. I've never used iTunes or any other music organization software, so I tend to treat MP3 players as portable generic hard drives and drag and drop whole folders of albums into them. The H10, through the "Browser" option, will play entire folders of songs, one after the other, without stopping, which is a feature I like for long road trips and study sessions.

If you're in the market for an MP3 player and you can find an H10 for cheap (say, $100 perhaps?), it might be worth the price.

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