If you're familiar with the terrific iRiver Clix and Clix 2, you'd be forgiven for thinking the iRiver Lplayer was its successor. The confusion arises because the cute little Lplayer looks like the Clix and sports the same D-Click interface. While the official Clix successor is actually the iRiver Spinn, these features were the two reasons we were so excited about the Lplayer in the first place.
Also known as the L Player to its friends, it's on sale now in 4GB and 8GB varieties, costing £69 and £99, respectively.
As mentioned, the Lplayer rocks the popular iRiver D-Click interface, meaning instead of navigational buttons, you physically press the screen up, down, left and right to navigate menus. It's an incredibly intuitive design and won iRiver heaps of fans when it was first demonstrated within the Clix.
The Lplayer has a really solid feel without being overly weighty. In fact, it's a lot more rugged-feeling than the Clix and we're pleased. Plus, the standard mini-USB socket makes replacing USB cables a breeze should you lose the one supplied.
Next, iRiver has given the Lplayer a super-crisp 320x240-pixel screen with terrific a pixel density inside its 51mm (2-inch) construction. A 16:9 resolution or AMOLED would've given it a one-up over the 3rd-gen iPod nano, but videos and menus still look brilliant. Even small text is sharp and clear.
Inside is support for a decent array of formats, including MP3, WMA, OGG, FLAC and ASF, but not WAV, sadly. It also appears that Audible audiobooks are not supported, though we weren't able to test this at the time of writing. Podcast fans can easily install the Podcast Ready app for automatically syncing podcasts, however.
Photos and videos are supported as well, but the process required to get them on the Lplayer -- as with so many portable players -- is clunky. XviD, WMV9 and MPEG-4 videos are supported at certain bit rates and resolutions, but Windows Media Player will occasionally be able to handle the conversion process. On a test machine, WMP 11 managed to convert and sync one video out of six.
iRiver bundles the iRiver Plus 3 media management PC software that makes video conversion and syncing much less troublesome. Happily, 27 of the 30 videos we selected for conversion and transfer to the Lplayer were successfully synced.
Also inside is an FM radio and broadcasts can be recorded to the Lplayer's memory. An internal microphone also enables voice recording and it's a great little microphone, with three WMA quality settings to choose from. It's sensitive and produces excellent recordings, ideal for one-on-one interviews.