A slide show activates as you browse photos and you can also view them while music is playing, though you then can’t make any adjustments to the music playing without going out of the photo.
Other options are the ability to view text files, and the in-built FM radio. This picked up a slew of stations quickly using the auto setting though you need to be outside to get decent reception. You can also record the radio just by pressing one button.
Battery life is rated at 12 hours, which is impressive considering the colour display, though if you’re making heavy use of the screen by browsing photos a lot you have to expect that to be reduced somewhat. There’s no way of seeing the remaining charge on the default menu screen – you have to actually go and start a song playing to see the power indicator.
Where the H10 does really well though is with its sound quality, which as we’ve come to expect from iRiver is superb. The bundled headphones are fairly unpleasant but using a decent set like my Koss Porta Pro’s and you’ll be treated to full bass and a clear and bright sound. It was even powerful enough to act as the music source for my Hi-Fi amp. You can also play with a number of sound presets for different types of music and there are SRS sound enhancements, which do have a marked effect on output.
I really wanted to like the iRiver H10. On paper at least, its beats both the mini and the Zen with its feature set. It’s small, it’s light, it’s capacious, it sounds great and the price is right. However, there are so many rough edges that it’s just going to drive people back to one of the other options from Creative and Apple. Not being able to play albums in the correct track order without jumping through hoops is plain bizarre, as is requiring a USB connection to charge. The colour screen in practice is more of a gimmick than an essential feature, and if you’re looking to the H10 as a portable photo viewer you’ll likely be disappointed.
We had high hopes for the H10 but numerous idiosyncrasies keep it well away from reaching an award podium. Creative will be releasing its colour screen enabled Zen Micro by the middle of the year, and iRiver has until then to sort out the flaws and up the screen resolution. If it can do that, it might have a real contender on its hands.