iRiver Slim-X washes away the competition
Thin, sound, rechargable batteries, Good FM reception, features, anti-skip, MORE!
Lose the remote... uh oh! Very basic function only on main unit. Minor gripes.
The Bottom Line:
Have another CD-MP3 player... shame on you, the king of CD-MP3 players is sitting in front of you now. Sell your old one and buy this NOW!
That's likely the first reaction you'll have when you see the Slim-X from iRiver. Looking at my RioVolt (the current SP100 model) and my brother's TDK Mojo, the Slim-X already looked much cooler than those two. My oh my... how the MP3-CD players have advanced.
The Short Take
At this point in time, the Slim-X is the thinnest and coolest looking CD-MP3 player in the market. Despite retailing for $200, the package comes with so many features and accessories that $200 for the whole package seems more than reasonable. If you're worried that the company isn't reliable or that it is too new for the market... you'd be surprised to find out that iRiver developed all the current versions of the RioVolt (SP100 and SP250 are sold as the iRiver and iRiver2 in Korea!). Reasonable price, tons of extras, features up the wazoo!, and excellent playback with a FM tuner on top of all that means a must have player! If you're looking for a MP3-CD player... this one is definitely on the short list... a really short list!
1) Thin profile
2) Rechargable NiMH batteries included that last up to 12 hours
3) Included external AA battery pack
4) Ultra cool 4-line LCD remote!
5) FM tuner
6) up to 8 minute antishock protection/ESP
7) Upgradable firmware
1) Lose or break the LCD remote... you can barely operate the Slim-X. Almost all the controls are on the LCD remote!
2) Crappy carry case included with package
3) No LCD and limited functionality based on buttons on main unit.
Where did I get it?
Actually, the unit belongs to a friend who dared me that his iRiver Slim-X was better than my SonicBlue Rio Riot unit. We swapped units for a weekend and now I'm quite jealous of the Slim-X. It blows away the RioVolt and TDK Mojo units I have. I'm about to send my Rio Riot back to Amazon.com and purchase the Slim-X!
Who is iRiver
This is the Korean company that built the first RioVolt (called the iRiver in Korea) and also built the RioVolt SP250... so the company has actually been around a long time. Since there are so many RioVolts around with few problems, iRiver makes quality products. I guess they were fed up being the middleman with SonicBlue taking all the credit... so they launched iRiver America which seems to be based in California. Hey, this is new to me... I just found out from reading dmusic.com reviews on iRiver products and from reading epinions member bdb55 review of the iRiver Slim-X. All I knew before that was that the RioVolt was developed in Korea... but I didn't know the company name until now.
Tons and tons of features... where to start?
Improved FM tuner over the RioVolt! I got pretty good reception from various areas where my original RioVolt and Panasonic SL-SW869V barely got reception. It picked up better than my Creative Nomad II MG and SonicBlue Rio Riot... both of which weren't too shabby in the FM reception department! You can set 20 preset stations into the Slim-X too!
The unit is about the same height and depth as the RioVolt players... but the thickness is almost half that of the RioVolt units! It's 16.7 mm thick (2/3 of an inch)! More than a match with the thin Discmen units out there.
There is up to 8 minutes of anti-shock protection for MP3 playback... it works well but the time protection of anti-shock is based on the recording quality of the MP3/WMA file. Regular CD playback has a selectable anti-shock protection of 45 or 180 seconds. I didn't have any major problems with the anti-skip... seemed to work just fine for me.
The unit is multilingual... you can have it display options in any of I think it is 35 languages (maybe more... I didn't count them all... and I didn't take the manual when I borrowed the unit).
Multiple Equalization levels... Neutral, Rock, Jazz, Classic, Ultra Bass, and User Defined. I think the description are self explanatory... don't you?
Included rechargable batteries get about 11-12 hours of life... no joke! I was surprised at this as well... how often does a company's rated battery life match with the real life battery life. The rechargables can be charges while in the Slim-X player as well! The AA battery pack (included with package and hold 2 AA batteries) add another 9-10 hours of battery life on top of the rechargables! This is too sweet!
Plays MP3, WMA, regular CD audio files, and some ASF format. My current programs are locked to recording WMAs to 64KHz so I use the MP3 format for almost everything. Burned CD-Rs and CD-RWs played with no problem on the Slim-X! Seemed to play everything I threw at it.
The unit remembers the last track on the last 10 CDs that you have played on it. Kinda cool feature to have.
The Slim-X has flash memory to upgrade the firmware... so you can correct software problems and possibly add new features like in the RioVolt!
Main Player Functionality
Somewhat disappointing is the fact that the main unit has only a few buttons and no LCD on it. You have a few buttons for Play, FF, REW, Stop, Vol + and Vol -. That's it... You get no display of any sort on the player! Everything is controlled through the LCD remote... which is a problem if you lose or break the remote.
At least the player looks cool... the same sort of cool look that the Creative Nomad II MG MP3 player has!
The Ultra Cool Remote
What has a nice blue backlight and a clear 4 line display with many buttons... why it's the Slim-X remote!
Everything is controlled by this little LCD remote. All information on the CD and track is displayed through that 4-line LCD. You can't even change between the FM tuner and MP3/CD playback without the LCD remote. And that is the main problem with this unit... lose the remote and you have a useless MP3-CD Player. If you lost the remote when listening to FM stations... then you can only listen to FM stations till you get another remote. The remote only has a 90 day warranty too versus the 1 year on the main unit. At least you can buy another remote for $30 from iRiver.com web store.
The remote is a bit tricky to use but with trial and error plus my knowledge of the menu system on the RioVolt, I learned most of the functions quickly enough.
The external AA battery pack is a nice extra that allows you to run the Slim-X for more than 20 hours with the rechargable batteries. I do think that the battery pack is a bit odd looking and bulky but it certainly adds quite a bit of portable life to the Slim-X. I couldn't find a way to attach it to the player (other than the power plug)... maybe I should borrow that manual too...
The carry case... urmmmm... I should call this a cheap crappy pouch really. It pretty pathetic looking in my opinion... go buy a real case somewhere.
Earbuds are decent. Not great but more than acceptable for regular use. I didn't have any major complaints with them.
You also get the AC adapter with the package too. That's so sweet of iRiver!
The rechargable batteries are flat long batteries that have been more commonly used in Japan that I've seen around the US. I have an old Panasonic/Technique (sp?) player from the late 80s that used this type of battery... they help keep the player super slim and give a great portable life! Extra batteries can be bought from iRiver at $20 a pair.
Is pretty standard to other systems overall... it is based off a directory system with some tweaks from the system used in the RioVolt line. The LCD will display all the information.
It's not the greatest navigation system but it works. Still no match in my opinion with the TDK Mojo or Rio Riot unit. You can go through files by filename or ID3 information.
The future of iRiver
The Slim-X is a really cool player that seems to have everything that anybody needs... but iRiver is still developing new toys. The latest one announced is a MP3 player based off the new DataPlay discs... the nickle sized optical discs that supposedly hold 500MB of info! Wow I can't wait till that comes out!
Till then, the Slim-X is one fine player! It's worth every penny.