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iRiver B20 MP3 & DAB Player
Despite Gordon's complete lack of enthusiasm for the B20, iRiver has to be congratulated for creating an amazingly small portable DAB player. Considering that devices like Pure's Pocket DAB required a substantially large pocket, and even the well featured MPIO PD100 left much to be desired in the style stakes, the B20 hasn't so much moved the game on, but has actually rewritten the rules. This is, without a shadow of a doubt, the coolest portable DAB player to hit the market, and that's before you even begin to look at the other features.
The B20 definitely had a good starting platform, sharing much with the superb iRiver Clix 2 player that I reviewed back in May. Like the Clix 2, the B20 employs a landscape aspect ratio, with a button free fascia. Navigation is controlled by clicking the fascia of the device on each of its four edges. It may be hard for users of players with traditional navigation methods to understand just how intuitive the B20 is to use, but take my word for it, like the Clix 2 before it, the B20 is a joy to use.
The 2.4in screen on the B20 is bright and very vivid, although it wasn't the easiest to view when in bright sunlight. I found this a little odd, because the 2.2in screen in the Clix 2 didn't seem to suffer so badly in strong ambient light environments. Another issue is that despite being incredibly careful with the device, it managed to pickup a small scratch in the bottom left corner of the screen. If anything it proved that iRiver needs to bundle slip cases with its devices - when I reviewed the Clix 2 I resorted to carrying it in my Sandisk Sansa pouch to keep it safe.
As with the Clix 2, video looks pretty good on the B20, but you will have to go through the hassle of transcoding your video in order to view it, assuming that your video content is in XviD or DivX format. This is where the Creative Zen player steals a march on its competitors, with native XviD and DivX support. The problem with having to transcode, is that you'll do it a couple of times and then lose interest. No doubt Apple doesn't see this as a problem, since it expects its users to just download their video from the iTunes store, but there's no such infrastructure in place for iRiver.