CES 2009: iRiver Wave Home Unveiled

Known for its great sounding MP3 players, iRiver showed off a new home media and communication device on its stand.

The Wave Home has 1GB of storage built-in, but it also has an SD card slot, so that can easily be augmented to 33GB with a single card, while the USB port also adds the option for extra storage. That said, considering that the device has an Ethernet port, I’d be tempted to stream my media from a NAS appliance, rather than store it on the device.

Talking of media, the Wave Home will playback music, video and photos. There’s no definite word on codec support yet, but iRiver has always offered more extensive codec support than most manufacturers in the past. You also have the option of streaming Internet radio, while iRiver has also thrown in an FM tuner for good measure.

As with any phone there’s a contacts database as well as a calendar. A nice touch is that you can post notes to the screen in a similar fashion to the HP TouchSmart PCs – I guess you won’t need to leave a pen and pad next to the phone anymore!

It seems that Widgets are something of a buzz word at CES this year, so it comes as no surprise that the Wave Home boasts widgets too. There are connected widgets like the weather app, as well as more focussed widgets like D-Day that will remind you of anniversaries and birthdays. There’s also a full web browser, and a virtual keyboard so you can make use of it. The Wave Home will also offer a plethora of useful information that’s local to your area.

There’s no doubt that the Wave Home looks impressive, but much will depend on whether iRiver cements all the partnerships needed to make the device work as it should. It looks superb, and should suit even the most stylish, Heals obsessed consumer. iRiver is planning to bring the Wave Home to market in both the UK and US at the end of the year, with a price south of $400.

This may be something of a departure for iRiver, but having spent some time with the preproduction models on the stand, it looks like the company has spent a lot of time and effort to get the Wave Home right. I’m certainly looking forward to getting my paws on a full retail version later this year.

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