On the face of it the iRiver E200 has a huge amount going in its favour. The player has a metal casing that gives it a supremely solid feel and the front is dominated by a four inch screen. As there are no hardware buttons on the front, and only a power button and control lock on the top, you may well assume that it is a touch screen device.
In fact the screen only takes up two thirds of the front and measures 2.8 inches on the diagonal with a resolution of 320 x 240, and the lower third is taken up with a panel of touch controls that you use to change settings and to select and play your videos and music.
On the bottom of the E200 there’s a headphone jack and tucked away beneath a plastic cover you’ll find a mini USB port and a MicroSD card slot so you can add to the 16GB of integrated storage. It’s worth noting that the USB connection for charging and data transfer uses a regular mini USB port rather than some horrendous proprietary connector.
When we connected the USB cable to our PC we had to select the type of connection we wanted from a list of Power+Data’, Power+Play’ or Power Only’. This is the sort of complication you get with some PC devices that doesn’t occur with iPods and other user-friendly gadgets. Once we’d selected the Power+Data’ option and seen the iRiver appear in Windows Explorer we dragged across some movie and music files.
Unfortunately we ran into all sorts of problems as AVI, MKV and WMV video files all refused to play. We wondered whether the v1.11 firmware was the source of our troubles, however iRiver firmware updater refused to run as it, amazingly, does not support the E200.
Next we used the CD that comes with the E200 to install the iRiver Plus 3 software. This is media management software that handles a number of tasks, starting with the ability to update the firmware of the E200 to v1.15 which improved the response of the E200 slightly. Once that job was complete we used iRiver Plus 3 to catalogue our media files. Music, video, photos and Ebooks each get separate tabs, which isn’t strictly necessary in our opinion but it looks neat. The software also manages the process of transferring media to the E200 and converts some files into a format that the player can understand.
Once we had selected a movie file and clicked the transfer button we found the software typically took 20 minutes to convert the movie and then a few seconds more to transfer it to the E200.
The list of file formats handled by the E200 and the conversion software include MPEG, WMV and XviD, but not AVI or MKV. Similarly, with photos you can view JPG but not BMP or GIF files. Audio support is better with MP3, WMA, OGG and FLAC playing correctly however WAV doesn’t appear to work.
The built-in battery promises up to 5.5 hours of video playback or 17 hours of music, and the quality of audio and video playback is excellent provided you use a pair of headphones. We are unsure why anyone would consider using the feeble integrated speaker.
When you turn the E200 to landscape mode to watch a movie the touch controls are positioned to the right side of the screen. That’s a convenient location however the lack of touch screen controls makes it impossible to skip part way into a movie or TV show. We feel this is a major oversight.
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