posted by Eugenia Loli on Sun 6th May 2007 18:02 UTC

"iRiver E10, Page 2/2"
Pictures: You can have subfolders or playlists for different pictures, or you can choose to view them all. There is slideshow support, or manual picture loading. In the "settings" menu of the Pictures submenu you can set Image Delay, choose from lots of Transitions and set the current picture as a Wallpaper. Images must be 128x128 and in JPG format.

Videos: You can have sub-folders of videos, or simply put them all in one place. Videos must be 128x128 encoded in XviD MP4-SP and 15fps. iRiver says that compatible videos must have 128 kbps mp3 audio in them and 384 kbps video, but this is not true. I encoded via MediaCoder a 128x128 video (download my MediaCoder preset file here, just edit it to change the "USERNAME" word to your Windows' user name) which respetected the aspect ratio at 128kbps for video (use 192kbps only if there is a lot of motion, e.g. sports) and 64kbps for audio (128kbps should only be used for music video clips or concerts). In fact, encoding at 128/64 kbps video/audio over the suggested rates, it will save you over 1 MB per minute of hard drive space! You can download this video that I encoded for the device in order to check out the quality produced by MediaCoder via my presets. On a modern PC, encoding with these settings will take you 16 minutes to encode a 45-minute episode and about 40 minutes to encode a two hour movie. Some will argue that the screen is too small -- and it is small -- but remember that a 4:3 video won't be smaller than watching it on a Sony Ericsson 176x220 1.8" cellphone screen (because these screens are 3:4 instead of square and so overall, a 4:3 video's viewable surface is about the same). The user interface of the Videos is similar to the Music's, you press and hold the up/down arrows to scan through a movie (it has a very fast response when scanning) and audio/video is always in sync!

Settings: Change date/time, create a custom EQ, Fade-in on audio (there is no gapless playback), Display (change wallpaper or a Flash-based UI theme -- download my wallpaper below for your E10), choose what the SmartKey want to do for you (e.g. go to Home, repeat, Playing now, etc), when to auto-power off/sleep or turn off screen, choose your brand of TV for usage with the Remote Control (it worked perfectly with our Sharp HDTV), and "About". In the Advanced submenu, you will find the Language menu (select from MANY languages, including Greek), sort files ascending/descending, text scroll speed from when a song title does not fit in the screen, system information (our OS version is 1.0.4 KR after upgrading) and "reset all settings".

Download E10 wallpaper

Audio quality was seriously top notch. As good as in our iPods. It can be really loud too: volume goes up to "40" while having the device at "5" is already enough for our ears! We tried the included earbuds which had a very good sound quality, but my ears are small and so they fall-off as any other earbud I ever tried. For most of the testing time I used my over-the-head professional-grade Sony headphones (MDR-XD400).

Battery life lasted an impressive 23 hours in our music tests (although not as much as iRiver claims at 32 hours) and about 4.5 hours for video. I am sure that video battery life would have been better if there was an option to reduce backlight strength, but there isn't any (there is only an option to tell the device when it should turn the LCD off completely but not how much backlight to use). One interesting aspect of the battery the E10 uses is that it charges very fast, wihin minutes for 50%.

The device came with iRiver Plus2 in the CD, but we highly recommend you upgrade to Plus3, which is much better and supports album art. However, the media manager would refuse to transcode any videos for the iRiver, we always got an error that "mencoder could not be found". This is why I used MediaCoder to do our video encodings with my preset. The encoding free programs most E10 users use, iRiverTer, we found it to be a bit crashy while BADAK had trouble automatically using the right aspect ratio and it also had codec problems with h.264 source videos.

Overall, I liked the Plus3 media manager, but I didn't like the fact that the player won't recognize pictures and songs when you simply copy them in the right place via mass storage USB 2.0 because it needs a database update by a media manager application (it will recognize Videos, Themes, Flash games, text files automatically though). This means that for alternative operating systems, to copy your music and pictures you will need a special iRiver application for the Mac (resources here, here, here and here), or a Zenity/Bash script like this one by Ketil Wendelbo Aanensen if you are under Linux. Maybe someone would like to write a Rhythmbox or Banshee plugin or maybe update the old iTunes plugin linked above?

Overall, we are highly impressed by the E10. iRiver is among the big players in the portable multimedia market and now we know why: they have great products. And if you are an OGG supporter, this can be the player for you! I am seriously thinking of replacing my 4GB iPod Mini with this unit.

Pros:
* Intruitive, fast interface
* Smooth video playback
* Flash games and apps
* Voice/FM recording
* TV Remote Control
* Great battery life
* OGG support
* FM Radio

Cons:
* Proprietary USB connector
* Requires a media manager
* Wall charger not included
* No gapless playback
* No AAC support

Rating: 8/10

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