iriver T20

The menu system doesn’t make things any easier either and will drive you to the edge of the cliffs of insanity before you master it. The fact that you need to hold down the mode button before you can access any of the menus is annoying and having to press buttons on both sides of the device makes it really fiddly to browse and select from the music you have on the device with one hand.

Give me an iPod nano any day of the week over this system. Having said that, at least you can browse your music while listening at the same time – something the Creative Zen Nano does not allow you to do.

Unfortunately for the T20 usability isn’t the only area it’s lacking in. Let’s start with the track ordering. Now for the life of me I’ll never figure out why some MP3 player manufacturers go to all the trouble of reading the ID tags on music files - and then don’t use the track numbers to set the correct track order (isn’t that what they’re there for?). I’ve even seen quite expensive players that play tracks in alphabetical order and the T20 has a similar problem. In fact I’m not sure what criteria it uses to order songs, but it certainly isn’t the track number.
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Next on the list of gripes is the fact that, for some reason, you cannot transfer Ogg files to the player’s Music directory as you wish – you have to copy them into the Data folder instead. It sounds trivial but it means you can’t use Windows Media Player to synchronise your Ogg files because Windows Media Player only ‘sees’ the Music, Voice and Record folders on the device.

Finally, while the look-no-cables approach might seem like a good idea it does have drawbacks. First is that the player is too bulky to fit into a USB socket if the one next to it in a stack is occupied – in fact you might have trouble fitting it at all into some recessed sockets without the use of an extension cable.

And second is that there’s no way of recharging the device if you find yourself out of juice with no computer in sight. This may not be an issue on the daily commute or workout at the gym, but if you’re travelling it could well turn out to be a problem even if you do manage to extract the quoted maximum 14-hour battery life out of the device.


Verdict

Despite its tiny size and good looks, iriver is going to have to try a lot harder than this if it is to make any kind of impact on Apple’s increasingly dominant hold on the MP3 player market.

As it is it’s just about on a par with Creative’s Zen Nano – better in some ways, not as good in others. But even if the T20 was improved, and iriver made it easier to use, cheaper than the £72.99 it is listed at at the moment, and ironed all of the kinks out, it would still struggle to be a serious iPod nano contender.

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