Of course it could be argued that any player will sound good with a set of Shure E500s plugged into it, but that’s not actually the case. In reality these earphones often highlight the inadequacies of a player, but the clix definitely seemed to complement the E500s, especially when sticking to high bit rate encodes. Also in its favour is the fact that the clix supports OGG, which is a far superior codec to MP3, although even I tend to keep most of my collection in MP3, since I know I can then play it on any device – I do rip everything at 320kbit though!
The clix also has a built-in FM tuner, which worked surprisingly well. I often find that integrated tuners are a bit hit and miss, but I managed to lock onto pretty much all the radio stations that I expected to find, while the sound quality was first rate, even when walking around. You can also record directly from the radio if you wish, while an integrated microphone also allows you to use the clix as a Dictaphone, something that’s always handy in my line of work.
Getting your music onto the clix couldn’t be easier. Instead of having to install a music manager like iTunes or SonicStage, you can simply drag and drop all your tracks to the device. Not only does this make things quick and easy, it also means that you can drag your music off the clix - ideal if you wanted to dump some music onto your work computer that you’d ripped at home. This drag and drop behaviour was one of the reasons that we liked the SanDisk Sansa e260 so much, but the clix pulls this trick off with even more style. Any Sansa e260 user will tell you that one of the annoyances of the player is that it takes an age to startup, this is because it has to rebuild its music library each time it’s powered on in case you’re dropped some new songs on it. The clix powers on instantaneously, because it doesn’t rebuild the library on each startup – what this does mean is that you need to manually click the “rebuild library” selection whenever you do add music, but that’s definitely preferable to having to wait every time you power on.
iRiver quotes a playtime of 24 hours for music, which doesn’t seem unreasonable – I took the clix with me on a Press trip to Tunisia last week, I was away for three days and used it on both flights and in the evenings without charging it once. Video playback time is quoted at five hours, which again isn’t bad, especially since you’re unlikely to want to watch that much video in one go anyway.
So, the iRiver clix is just about perfect right? Well, not quite. You see, one of the things that has made the iPod such a huge hit with consumers is the totally seamless integration between hardware and software. An iPod and iTunes just work perfectly together, and it’s easy for even a complete technophobe to figure out how to get music, video or podcasts onto their player. Unfortunately things aren’t quite so simple with the clix, because although getting your music onto the device is simply a drag and drop procedure, getting video onto it is a little more complicated.