I've always had a soft spot for iRiver. Even though the company hasn't always created the most stylish or user friendly music players, they always tend to produce sound quality that's a cut above much of the competition. But the big news from iRiver at CES wasn't a new PMP, instead the Korean company was showing off the Wave Home.
The Wave Home is something of a departure for iRiver, being a home media and communications device. At first glance it looks a bit like a digital photo frame, and in fact that's one of the many duties that it can perform. You get more of an idea of the bigger picture when you reach behind the screen and find the telephone handset, complete with colour display.
Wave Home utilises Voice over IP to allow the user to make free phone calls, and even more impressively, video calls. Mounted above the main screen is a webcam so that you can see the person at the other end of the line, whether they're using another Wave Home, or perhaps a notebook computer. The image quality when making a video call is surprisingly good, although I was only dialling a device on the other side of the table.
The VoIP providers will be determined closer to launch, but iRiver intends to cement partnerships with VoIP providers so that the devices can be preconfigured, and thus make installation and setup easier. The Wave Home can even handle three way video conferencing, although I can't say that I've ever felt the need to video conference at home.
The screen is obviously the focal point of the device and it's a very nice example. The LCD display measures 7in and sports a resolution of 800 x 480. Most of the control is done via the touch screen interface which works very well, although inevitably leaves the screen covered in fingerprints.