This may not be much of an issue when zipping through a three-minute pop track, but it is a major pain in the backside if you want to skip smoothly through something longer as we did with Górecki's O Domino Nostra, which runs to over 21m 30s.
Having to go into the Settings menu every time you want to change the scan speed hardly helps matters, either.
On-the-go playlists are something iRiver has seen fit not to bless the E100 with, so you have to set them up via the supplied iRiver Plus 3 media management software. You will also need to make sure your music files have ID3 v2.3 or later tags or songs and albums will end up in the 'unknown' zone.
iRiver quotes 17 hours of playback per charge. Leaving it on repeat play overnight, we got 15-and-a-half hours out of it before it died. Charge is officially conveyed only through a USB cable, but in the spirit of enquiry and adventure we stuck an HTC USB phone charger into it and are happy to report the E100 charged up nicely without exploding.
The E100 is available in 2, 4 and 8GB versions, and in a range of pretty horrific colours including a Zune-like brown.
The E100 is available in a range of quite hideous colours
On a closing note, the word out of Korea is that iRiver will release a revamped E100 later in the summer with an aluminium case and upgraded screen, but minus the built in speakers - which apparently makes it a little slimmer. No news on how much the E100 2.0 will cost, or if the memory integration issues will be addressed, but it's probably wise to wait and see until you part with your hard earned on the current incarnation. The speed with which the E100 Mk. II has surfaced suggests iRiver know they have got the Mk. 1 wrong in a number of ways.
Not a bad box of tricks performance wise, and blessed with better-than-average file support and Micro SD storage expansion. But you really have to not mind your media being presented to you in two separate chunks. It's bad enough if you're using a 2 or 4 GB memory card, but imagine using a 16GB one? You'd have two-thirds of the player's musical content only accessible through a basic Directory menu. No thanks.
MP3 player speakers?
Will someone please pass a law banning speakers in MP3 players?
I have an old H320 running Rockbox and it's a lovely bit of kit, shame this doesn't seem to share the solid build of that older model from all accounts - I'd much rather another iRiver should this one fail, than a Zen - had one of those, and found the custom software and menu system to be utterly, utterly hateful.
The iRiver knocks it for socks for sound quality too when running Rockbox too [in terms of customisation, certainly].
Oh well, no reason to replace the old brick *just* yet...
comparison to Creative Zen
Hopefully the 2.0 will fix a load of the usability issues it has. They've pitched this at the same price point as the Creative Zen but not matched it well on features. iRiver usually get by on excellent design but in the budget market like this it seems odd to not at least match what seems like thier direct competitor.