iRiver U10 media player

The iPod Nano killer?

Review There's an interesting story behind the U10. Apparently, the head of River got together the whole design and engineering team in Korea and told them to that they needed to change their thinking. He told them to go back to the drawing board and come up with something new, to make a complete U-turn with their thinking. A U-Turn, or a U10, geddit?!?

It was a sensible idea. iRiver's range of largely me-too MP3 players were dull but worthy, and there was no chance that they were ever going to make any inroads on Apple's market share. Having said that, last year's N10 was one of the most stylish players ever...

And if there's one thing the U10 is, it's certainly different. The player measures 6.9 x 4.7 x 1.6cm. It's thicker than an iPod Nano but shorter. Compared to the 42g nano, it is bulky, though - and at 70g, noticeably heavier.

The first time you plug in the player it will charge, taking one hour to fill up to 50 per cent, and 2.5 hours to charge fully. Playback for audio is rated at a chunky 20 hours.

The device sports a 2.2in, 320 x 240 screen that can display 260,000 colours - and that's it. Rather than being festooned with myriad small buttons too small to press, all the navigation controls are built into the screen, which is a four-way navigation control in its own right. Press the left-hand side of the screen to move left, for example. With the constant pressing on the screen, you need to carry a cleaning cloth with the player at all times otherwise the screen gets covered in fingerprints.

iRiver U10 media player

There are some buttons: the power switch on the right and beneath that a button that toggles the screen between landscape and portrait mode. There are two small buttons to control the volume. Underneath there's a hold button, and a small reset switch. To get advanced options you press and hold on the right button and you do the same to get back to the currently playing track when you're in a different menu. For a Flash-based player it does take a tad too long to turn on, and the animations make navigation a bit on the sluggish side, though there is a setting to speed this up.

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