Top positive review
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The H340 is the highest quality portable music player around
on 3 August 2004
If you want an iPod, get an iPod, this is not an iPod. If you want the highest quality portable music player around, then get one of these, you will not be disappointed. The iPod technology is running a couple of years behind the iRiver. And, as the iPod still retains the market lead, Apple has no reason to change it.
I never thought I'd ever give up on the iPod, but I eventually succumbed to one of these, partly because I was fed up with the 4 hour battery life on my iPod, and also because Apple weren't investing in the emerging technology, but mainly because of the difference in sound quality..
I have done a direct side to side comparison with the 'H' and my "old" 40gb 3rd Gen iPod. First with the supplied ear buds (Senheiser with the iRiver), then with a pair of Sony professional DJ headphones, a set of JBL creature speakers, off the Mac, and finally directly through a Harmon Kardon amp.
Admittedly the iPod ear buds are slightly better quality, but the difference is, almost undetectable, but I never used the Ipod ear buds anyway, I used proper headphones. In every other test though, the iRiver won hands down. Especially through the amp. The iRiver has SRS WOW digital sound enhancement, there are half a dozen preset equalizer options, tru-bass and a couple of user defined sound options too, plenty of choice, even for the average Joe like me.
Weight wise, there's about a 'half ounce' in it. Size wise, the iRiver is 4mm thicker but 3mm narrower and 2mm shorter, than the 40gb iPod. Not much in it. But the iPod scratches more easily and shows more when the dirt gets in it, I don't mean mud, just daily grime from your pockets, desk etc.
And if that isn't enough to convince you, the H series comes with a full colour screen, for viewing digital images. The iPod still uses dot matrix. The player is USB 1 host, so no need for a computer, between your camera and your player. But be aware, not all cameras are supported yet, keeping checking the site.
The H has a very reliable operating system, and the firmware is upgradeable, so you can take advantage of all iRivers future enhancements such as video codec support. iRiver adds new features to their firmware all the time, and are quite reactive to their user base, so when a new codec comes out, you get it quickly and for free.
As well as it's own file management software, 'H Manager' which operates through and adds features to Windows explorer, the H series also supports WinAmp play lists, so no fiddling around with 'smart playlists'. Why would you want to waste time rating individual songs, when you can quickly set up play lists, and as many as you want. You can manage the file/menu system however you want so your not tied to any particular structure like with other players.
And you can download using any Music site, you're not tied to the expensive and limited iTunes library.
As for the charger, I have had no problems, and you can charge directly from USB. And at 16 hours on a full charge, you're not going to be spending £100 on a new battery in a years time, unlike the iPod.
What else? Recording, there's a built in mic, and an external one included in the pack, you can record via Line-in or using the internal, sound quality (depending on the bit rate you select) is astounding. You can record from real life (concerts) and with direct MP3 encoding you can use the line-in for converting your vinyl/tape to MP3.