With absolutely no buttons or controls on the fascia, you’re probably wondering how you control the clix. The obvious answer would be squeezing buttons onto the edges, and in reality there are a few of those, but none of them are used for navigation. To navigate through the menus and generally use the clix you actually press the edges of the fascia – this gives you four-way navigation without the need for a dedicated control taking up space on the front of the device. So simple is this navigation method that I’m amazed that no other manufacturers are using it, especially since it would allow the creation of a player where the entire front fascia is the screen. Of course there is the issue of fingerprints on the screen, but pretty much every player is subject to that greasy problem.
There are four buttons located around the edges of the device, two of which control the volume, one is the power button and the last can be programmed to do anything from starting a recording, to jumping back to the home screen. There’s also a hold switch, which is very useful considering how easy it would be to inadvertently click the fascia. There’s a standard 3.5mm headphone jack on the left side and a mini-USB port on the right. It’s great to see that iRiver has gone for standard mini-USB rather than a proprietary connection, meaning that you can use any USB to mini-USB cable. There is also a setting in the Advanced menu that allows you to change the USB mode – you can have either Power & Data or Power & Play. This means that if you just want to charge the player when connected to your PC, you can still play your music – Apple and SanDisk please take note!
So, the clix looks superb, has killer navigation and the best screen I’ve ever seen on such a small and slim player. Talking of small and slim, the clix measures only 80 x 46 x 12mm (WxHxD) and weighs in at a feather light 55g. But has iRiver compromised on sound quality in its quest for stylish and sleek design? Absolutely not!
I plugged my Shure E500PTH earphones into the clix to make the most of the sound being pumped out and I wasn’t disappointed. Cueing up Blues Grinder by Ronny Jordan instantly demonstrated that iRiver hasn’t just maintained its reputation for great sound quality, it has built on it. Ronny’s licks have never sounded so good – if I closed my eyes I could almost picture the inside of Ronnie Scott’s in Soho or the Iridium Club in Manhattan, with the incomparable Mr Jordon up on stage. Even when the guitar solo takes over proceedings, the bass line still thumps through your ears, but doesn’t overpower Ronny’s efforts. And all the while that snare drum cuts through your brain keeping the beat with the precision of a Swiss chronometer.
Moving closer to the middle of the road, I turned to the Goo Goo Dolls and Iris. Again the clix produced a very strong sound stage, with a level of clarity and cohesion that I rarely experience when listening to an MP3 encode. The acoustic guitars are beautifully rendered, while the strings section that springs to life during the climax is easily discernable and flows over the vocals, just the way it should.