title

The iRiver H10
MP3 player

 

iRiver H10 MP3 Player

I was looking for a new MP3 player having spent the past year playing with iRiver's iFP-395T. I guess it's something to look forward to every year as manufacturer's try and out do last years cool toys. I purchased the iRiver H10 in 3 Feb 2005, within 24 hours of it's availability into the mainstream stores. This is a great sounding MP3 player, but aren't they all. It the ease of use which determines which players dominate in sales. For my use, this is easier to use and more intuitive than the player I purchased last year. The size is slightly larger (1/4 inch) than a credit card and about 1/2 inch thick. I love the form factor, especially the slider to control vertical navigation and volume. Though it has a play/pause and previous and next button on the right, the front controls are much more intuitive than the 395T I purchased last year.

It's Not Perfect
I do have a few issues with the H10. The first is that you need to carry the AC adapter when traveling. The battery should be chargeable through the USB port of a computer as an option. The H10 requires a proprietary USB cable. Loose it and you can't transfer files or charge the battery. The H10 can use a neck strap. I'm using the molded plastic case but I'm also using a 12 inch Velcro strap through the belt loop to fasten it to my exercise machine so it doesn't get in the way when working out. It the H10 receives the popularity it deserves, maybe an aftermarket will develop with other accessory options. And last, as you'll read about below, for the H10 to show up in My Computer, it requires the installation of Windows Media Player 10. Maybe a firmware upgrade will become available so we don't have to install undesirable software  Until then, it's only accessible through Windows XP computers. It's not marketed to MAC people at all.
Software limitations and solution
I'd read in a review that the player could be accessed as a hard drive in My Computer, but found out that it's only available if you have Windows Media Player 10 (which comes on the enclosed CD) installed. The instructions say that you can only transfer music files through Windows Medial Player, not through Windows Explorer. I even waited on hold for 45 minutes to speak to an iRiver technical support person who verified that fact. Turns out to be untrue. You can copy MP3 files through Windows Explorer (if you have Windows Medial Player installed) and you can go to the "Browse" menu of the player to access all the files you've transferred over. But that's not an issue and the music plays fine. Even though you can open the folder in Windows Explorer, I've found that you can't rename MP3 files. But you can copy them back to your hard drive and rename them, delete them in the H10, and then copy the renamed files back to the H10. Not a big deal either as it's USB2 and much faster than the 395T is.
Don't Make Viewing Images a Reason to Purchase
It's not intuitive to even get your images onto the H10.. I finally figured out how to add pictures through Windows Medial Player and syncing created a folder called "Pictures" to the Media folder on the H10. Then I could drag and drop the images through Windows Explorer. I copied two different size JPEGs over to the Pictures folder, a 500 pixel image and a 1920 square pixel image. Though they were both viewable, the size of the screen (1.5 inches square) prevented seeing them with any real detail. Even using the Xtend-a-View LCD magnifying hood that I use for all my consumer digital cameras, no real detail was visible. Additionally it says in the manual that Progressive JPEGs can't be read by the H10. As a final test, I copied over 28 images that ranged from original digital camera files from two different digital cameras (the Casio and one of my Nikon CoolPix cameras) to 3000 pixel 8x10 sized JPEGs. All were viewable, but as I previously stated, not clear enough to see real detail. Though the screen was great for navigation, the H10 would definitely benefit from a larger screen for viewing images.
Voice Recording
My test recording sounded crystal clear and use of the buttons to start and end the recording was very intuitive. Easier than I thought it would be. The fact that I can use it as a "tape" recorder is definitely a plus. I'll be attending PMA (Photo Marketing Association) in two weeks and intend to use it for a series of mini interviews. It records voice as an MP3 which makes it easy to play back anywhere. Now if there were only software available that could do a good job transcribing. Any developers listening?
Questions about the operation of the H10
Why is it that after playing back a selected voice recording, the H10 immediately, without any delay, starts playing music from the music folder, even though the manual (page 35) says that all playback setting applies to the selected category?
Will there be a firmware update, or hacked firmware update, to make it read by the computer as a hard drive so Windows Medial Player 10 doesn't need to be installed?  A firmware update that enables it to be recognized as a hard drive will also open the market up to MAC owners.
Free Windows MP3 ripping Program
I've gotten fed up with MusicMatch ,which I paid for a license years ago. I've always used it to rip music CDs into MP3s, but I haven't been able to install the last three versions on two different laptops. So I went out searching for a program that could rip music CDs for me. I found a really good intuitive program called FreeRIP. Despite the fact that it's free, it allows you to set CD quality bitrate defaults unlike other programs that force you to pay to use higher quality settings.
Specifications of the H10 from the iRiver America web site

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