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There aren't many products out there good enough to impress our esteemed editor Riyad. But when iRiver launched its first D-Click-based MP3 player back in 2007, he was bowled over. The device's fabulous screen and innovative control system made it one of the most compact, full featured mini-PMP on the market and Riyad was a big fan. Well now, iRiver has come up with the follow up to the Clix 2 - it's not the Clix 3, or any other kind of replacement, but a smaller player that expands the range - the Lplayer.
The Lplayer comes in two different capacities - 4GB and 8GB - and both have the same effective navigation system as the Clix 2. Instead of a separate control cluster, the Lplayer's screen doubles up as a four-way directional pad. You can click on the left, right, top and bottom edges of the screen to control the Lplayer's various functions. The controls aren't static either - they're all context-sensitive, so in different modes the controls do different things.
It takes a little getting used to, but after a while, you'll be flicking around without a moment's pause for thought. The only buttons on the Lplayer, as with the Clix 2, are around the edges of the player and these are used to adjust the volume and turn it on and off. There is a hold switch on the rear, too - essential with a control system such as this, as the screen is easy to activate by accident in a pocket.
The big difference between the Lplayer and the Clix 2 is its size - at 60 x 43 x 13mm, this player is much smaller than the Clix 2 and, as a result, much more pocketable. But that ingenious control system means that screen size isn't compromised too much. In fact, though the Lplayer has a considerably smaller footprint than rival players such as Apple's iPod nano, Creative's Zen and Sandisk's Sansa Fuze, its screen is still just as big or bigger at 2in, and it's all down to the fact that the D-Click system means there's no need for a space-hungry control pad. The only thing about the Lplayer's design that counts against it is its 13mm thickness - it's no match for the nano, Zen or Fuze on that front.