iRiver iHP-120 Review - iRiver iHP-120 Review


The remaining accessories consist of a standard 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable, a headphone adaptor in case your headphones don’t fit the remote control. Next up is a small microphone that connects to the line in, a carrying case with a belt loop and a see-through front window, and of course a USB 2.0 cable and a charger.

The iHP-120 measures 60 x 105 x 19mm (WxHxD) and weighs 160grams. This makes it a bit larger and heavier than both the iPod and the Philips HDD100. It doesn’t feel that heavy carried in a pocked but it’s not the smallest MP3 player around, but compared to the original Creative Jukebox devices it’s tiny. It might also not be a stunning looker, but it does offer a lot of features.

As our device did not feature the latest firmware when it arrived this was one of the first tasks I set out to do. This is very easy as you copy the new firmware file over to the device; go in to the menu and select the upgrade firmware option. Remember to plug in the power cable just in case. It takes a minute or so and the iHP-120 reboots before it’s ready to use.

The sound quality is excellent, but the supplied headphones don’t do it justice.

Plugging in a set of Koss Porta Pro’s made it sound a lot more impressive and after fiddling around with the equalizer settings it got even better. The iHP-120 features SRS sound effects and the best one is SRS TrueBass which really makes the music sound alive. The line output is quite powerful for a portable device with 20mW amplification; this is louder than most walkmans and portable CD players.

It couldn’t be easier to copy your music across as long as it’s in the right format, as the iHP-120 is not supplied with any music encoding software. All you have to do is to install the drivers supplied on a CD, plug the USB cable in to the PC in one end and the other in to the iHP-120. The iHP-120 is then detected as a removable storage device by Windows (you need to use Windows 98SE or newer). From there on in it’s you just drag and drop your music to the iHP-120, preferably in folders or things can get very messy. There is no sign of any DRM (Digital Rights Management) software, which in my opinion is a very good thing. There is one limitation though as you can’t have more than 2,000 directories and 9,999 files on the device at any one time.

Music can be browsed using artists name, album names, genre, song title or just browse the files as they are stored. As I mentioned earlier you can also make M3U play lists in WinAmp.

Once you get used to the unusual layout of the buttons and the navigation “knob” it’s actually quite straight forward to use. The seven line LCD on the iHP-120 is great and its blue back light makes it easy to read even in poor light conditions. There is support for up to 38 different languages, so you shouldn’t have any problems with localised characters. The build quality doesn’t compare to the iPod or the HDD100, but it’s in no way bad. Since the iHP-120 is made from plastic rather than metal it feels a bit cheaper.

The integrated 1300mAh Lithium-Ion battery is stated to provide 16 hours of continuous playback and this is not far from the truth as I got well over 12 hours of use, but this was not continuous playback.

All in all this is a very advanced device, but there is one small problem. The current selling price is a steep £344 which is more than I would be willing to pay for an MP3 player, no matter how big its hard disk is. This is also £44 more than the 20GB version of the iPod. However, if you feel that you want an MP3 player that can do it all and you can live with the little quirks, then the iHP-120 might be for you.


The most advanced MP3 player to cross my path, with more features than you could shake a stick at. Unfortunately the high price makes it difficult to recommend the iHP-120.

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