The Lplayer’s 320 x 240 pixel screen looks good, too, and videos play back at up to a smooth 30fps. Indeed, it looks as crisp and colourful as anything the nano or Zen can produce. Despite the small size, as with the Clix 2, videos are actually very watchable. You could quite easily watch an episode of ”Heroes” or ”Lost” on this device without going too cross-eyed. And format support is also good: you can play back WMV 9, MPEG4 and XVID files on the Lplayer, though it’s worth bearing in mind that you’ll still probably need to transcode most of your video first using the supplied iRiver Plus 3 software. The Lplayer only supports SP profiles of the above file formats and, unlike the Sansa View, for example, won’t play video at higher resolutions than the native resolution (320 x 240) of its screen.
However, at this sort of size you’re not going to be using the Lplayer as a video player too often – it’s principally intended for use as a music playback device. And it does that job admirably well. The first thing to point out is that it’s extremely flexible in its music format playback. Not only can it act as a simply drag-and-drop device, for the playback of standard ripped files, but also in MTP mode for synchronisation with Windows Media Player and the playback of protected WMA files. File format support elsewhere is also commendable, with support for ASF, OGG and the lossless FLAC format as well as the usual suspects of MP3 and WMA. And to top the features list off, the Lplayer has a decent FM radio built in, plus an integrated microphone so you can use it as an impromptu dictaphone.
I was keen to see if the Lplayer could match the Clix 2 for sound quality so I loaded its capacious 8GB with a phalanx of FLAC files and set about carrying out some serious listening tests. I was instantly impressed. The iRiver’s sound is loud, clear and punchy without sounding strained or harsh in the way that the Sansa Fuze does. I kicked off with Mozart’s ”Requiem” and was impressed to find that the Lplayer was able to drive not only a pair of ear canal headphones without breaking sweat but also my reference headphones – a pair of Grado SR325s. The music was presented in just the kind of unfussy way I like: balanced but with perfect control.