Despite having a built-in DAB receiver, the B20 also sports an FM tuner. I doubt that this is out of any sense of altruism on iRiver’s part, rather the fact that the Clix 2 has a built-in FM tuner, so it obviously got carried over to the B20. Not that extra features are ever a bad thing of course.
Bizarrely, while the Clix 2 used a standard mini-USB port for charging and PC connection, iRiver has equipped the B20 with a proprietary connector. This means that you need to use the bundled cable whenever you want to connect or charge the player, whereas with the Clix 2 you can use any mini-USB cable, of which most consumers will have many these days.
When I reviewed the Clix 2 it was a little pricey compared to the competition, but it was also far better than anything else out there. However, the B20 is expensive even by iRiver standards – the 2GB version I’m looking at here costs £169, which is the same price as the 4GB Cowon D2! The scary thing is that the 4GB B20 costs a staggering £209, which is an unbelievable premium for 2GB of extra flash memory, especially since you could buy three 2GB miniSD cards for less than that £40 price differential.
Obviously I expect to be paying a bit extra for the DAB support, but there is absolutely no justification for charging £40 extra for 2GB. By comparison, even Apple only charges £30 extra for an 8GB nano over a 4GB version! Ultimately, it’s this uncompetitive pricing that drags an otherwise great player down.
The iRiver B20 is a very impressive media player with great integrated DAB support. Sound quality and navigation are both superb, while the DAB reception is also first rate. Unfortunately this is, quite simply, a very expensive player, with the similarly specified Cowon D2 offering twice the capacity for the same price.
Add to this the fact that the Creative Zen and iPod Touch are just around the corner, and the B20 doesn’t look that special. Yes the B20’s DAB reception is fantastic, but you’re going to have to be VERY serious about DAB to stump up the cash that iRiver is demanding.
Score in detail