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iRiver has fallen away from the public eye since its products first reached our shores a few years back. For a time its hard disk players were the only serious rivals for Apple's all-conquering iPod, but since then, increased competition has seen its presence on our high streets wane.
But you can still buy iRiver products over here in Blighty and there remains good reason to. The qualities that made iRiver so successful initially still pervade its products today. Innovative features and superb sound quality made its products challengers to Apple's supremacy, and they were hallmarks of the Clix 2 player that so impressed Riyad only a few weeks ago.
The Clix is what iRiver calls its Multifunction range of flash players – allowing you to play video, view pictures and listen to music – so we thought we'd take a look and see how the company's dedicated music players stacked up too. iRiver's 4GB T60 is what we came up with.
On the face of it, though, this player is a bit of an odd product. For starters it has an unusual shape – while every other manufacturer is trying to slim their players down to the point at which they virtually disappear into thin air, iRiver has produced something that looks very much like a very small Toblerone.
The second weird thing is that it uses standard alkaline batteries. This seems a tad old-fashioned in an age where lithium-polymer chemistry, quick-charging power units and 30 to 50-hour battery life are the standard. But it does have a flexibility that a player with a built-in rechargeable battery will never have. You can power it wherever you are in the world, regardless of access to a PC with a USB port, and you don't have to lug a wall-wart around with you if you want to travel light. That's enough to have generated a whole army of devotees to iRiver's AAA-powered players over the years.
The downside, though, is average battery life. At around 20 hours from one battery, if you listen to it a lot, things could get quite expensive. Still, you can always buy rechargeables to use when commuting and swap to alkalines when away on holiday.