There are some buttons – the power switch on the right and beneath that a button that toggles the screen between landscape and portrait mode and two small buttons for volume up and down. Underneath there’s a hold button, and a small reset switch, which I didn’t have need for during my time with the player. To get advanced options you press and hold on the right button and you do the same to get back to the currently playing track when you’re in a different menu. For a flashed based player it does take a tad too long to turn on, and the animations make navigation a bit on the sluggish side, though there is a setting to speed this up.
The player is undeniably awash with features. On the audio side first and foremost it will play MP3, WMA, ASF and the ultra efficient OGG. Only the Apple flavoured AAC is conspicuous by its absence, though that’s hardly surprising. It can also record to MP3, either from the built-in microphone or from the built-in FM radio, a feature only just released by Apple and even then, only as an external accessory. It can also play back video, though admittedly only at 15 frames per second.
However, for all its good work in features, design and navigation, iRiver falls down for the same reason that every other PC focussed manufacturer does – getting content onto the device itself. The U10 uses no less than three different methods.
Firstly, music is transferred over using Windows Media Player. To be fair, this works quite well. WMP might not be as good as iTunes, but once you get to know its quirks you’ll be transferring your tracks in no time. However, if you want to transfer pictures you have to use the supplied application called Picture Plus. This is because pictures need to be converted to a proprietary format rather than just copied over. The software does enable you to place pictures in their own folders and when you copy your pictures over the EXIF information contained in the file is displayed too.