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iRiver readies 'PC-free' colour music, photo player

H300 is its own USB host

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Reg Kit Watch Far Eastern portable digital music player maker iRiver will next month ship the successor to its H100 series of music products: a new, colour range that also offers the ability to display still photography.

The H300 series will comprise two models, one with a 20GB hard drive, the other with a 40GB unit. Content is displayed on the machine's 2in colour LCD, and accessed using the PDA-style five-way navigator control underneath.

iRiver H300 media playerIndeed, iRiver's new machine, with its playback control buttons on either side of the navigator looks not unlike a PalmOne PDA with a shrunken screen. The 40GB H340 even ships with a PDA-style recharge/connection cradle.

We've written before about the way the PDA and hard drive-based media player worlds are rapidly colliding, and iRiver - not to mention Sony, which announced a similar device yesterday - seems to be pushing them together.

That said, the H300 models still lack the PIM features Apple has long provided in the iPod. Instead, it provides a unit that can handle Ogg Vorbis, MP3 and WMA audio formats, and includes an FM radio, a voice recording facility and the ability to suck photos straight off a variety of digital cameras. For that, the H300s use their USB port, and the fact that some cameras format their internal storage using Windows' FAT-32 file system. The H300 series acts as a USB host and can effectively mount that storage and copy over the contents. Likewise, it can connect to external USB hard drives and Flash storage.

In addition to JPEG files, the player will display BMP images, and will even render text files on its LCD.

The 20GB H320 measures 10.3 x 6.2 x 2.2cm - at 2.5cm, the 40GB H340 is fractionally thicker. The two models weigh 183g and 203g, respectively.

The H300 will ship with all the usual accessories, along with a pair of Sennheiser MX400 earphones. It's powered by a Lithium Polymer rechargeable battery which provides up to 16 hours' playback, iRiver claims.

And watch out, Apple, the H300 series is Mac-compatible, as well as running off a Windows-based host.

The H320 and H340 go on sale in Japan mid-June for ¥47,800 ($431/£235) and ¥59,800 ($540/£294), respectively. No word yet on UK and US availability. ®

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