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 iRock! 830 128MB MP3 Player Review - Page 2 of 3

Posted:  January 25, 2004
Author:  Jason Kohrs
Manufacturer:  iRock!
Source:  iRock!


Before getting into the actual performance of the iRock! 830, lets see what the manufacturer has to say about it...

Features (as taken from the iRock! site):
Skip-free playback of MP3 and WMA files
High-quality stereo FM tuner with 20 presets
128MB of built-in memory (none expandable)
Up to 30 hours of continuous playback with one AA battery
Displays ID3 Tag Artist/Title/Album information
Firmware Upgradeable
Blue EL backlit LCD display with selectable contrast
(5) Preset Equalizer Modes: Flat, Rock, Pop, Jazz, Classical
(4) Playback Modes: Normal, Repeat 1, Repeat All, Random Sleep-Timer
High-speed downloading via USB
MP3i Creator software for making interactive MP3s
MUSICMATCH Jukebox software
Moodlogic software for creating custom mixes based on your mood
Compatible with iTunes Jukebox software for MAC

Specifications (as taken from the iRock! site):
Size: 2.95" x 1.75" x 0.58" (75mm x 45mm x 15mm)
Memory: 128MB (none expandable)
MP3 Bitrates supported: 8Kbps~320Kbps
WMA Bitrates supported: 5Kbps~192Kbps
FM Frequency Range: 87MHz~108MHz
Stereo Gain Differential: <0.5dB
Display: Graphic LCD
Power Supply: 1 AA battery
Battery Life: 30 hours typical
Signal to Noise Ratio: 90 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion: <0.25%
Maximum Output: 5mW
Audio Connector: 3.5mm headphone jack
Frequency Range: 20Hz~20KHz

Requirements (as taken from the iRock! site):
USB port
CD ROM 4x or Faster
Internet Access (recommended)
  Microsoft Win98/98SE/ME/2000 PRO/XP HOME/XP PRO
  Pentium II or higher (AMD equivalent)
  32MB Available RAM
  50MB Available hard drive capacity (recommended)
  OS X

From the published features and first impressions of the actual device, I am impressed by several items. Its small size, low weight, reliance on just one AA battery, decent memory size, and claims to run for 30 hours all have me enthused about reviewing this device.  In addition, the complete supply of accessories and software is a nice touch, as it will ensure that nothing else is required for the review, or for the end user to begin enjoying the device immediately

In Use:

For the first test run with the iRock! 830, I used the AA battery included and only used the few MP3s pre-installed, as well as the FM tuner. I spent a bit of time getting familiar with all of the controls and quickly learned how to do everything I needed. Not one to read instructions unless absolutely necessary, I found the controls to be fairly intuitive, and with a few minutes experience, was a pro (a person with the patience for reading could probably do even better). I kept an eye on the length of time the device ran for during this first run, and was quite impressed when the device made it to just over 28 hours!  I know it advertised 30 hours, but considering the amount of button pushing I did, and the number of times the backlighting was force to come on, I can understand why it may have lost 2 hours.

The images below are fairly decent representations of what the screen looks like during use. The below left and center images show the device during MP3 playback, and the image on the right shows it during use of the FM tuner. Title info is available in the center of the display during MP3 playback, with track number and battery status above, and equalizer preset shown below. In FM tuner mode, the station number is shown in the center of the display, and the track number is replaced by the preset number above this.

Click Image For Larger ViewClick Image For Larger ViewClick Image For Larger View

In addition to the playback modes shown above, when turning the device on/off you get whimsical greetings on the screen, and the settings of the device have well laid out graphical controls. Settings such as: sleep timer, contrast, brightness, backlight timing, and so on, can all be clearly navigated using the screen and the appropriate buttons.

In subsequent uses, I used fresh Duracell brand AA batteries, and had equally impressive results.  I never actually achieved 30 hours of life on one battery, but averaged anywhere from 22-29 hours per battery, which is still quite impressive. My other MP3 player is an RCA Kazoo that takes two AAA batteries and on a good day will get you 5-6 hours of life.

The player itself worked very well.  Using the included headphones, the MP3 sound quality was as good on the iRock! 830 as on my desktop computer's sound card. The FM tuner's performance was a nice surprise, as well. I wasn't anticipating much from it, other than being able to pull in the local channels, but it was surprisingly clear and dynamic.  The highs and lows came through well, which isn't all that common in my experience with FM tuners found in a typical walkman.  The seek tuning and 20 memory presets make sure you don't have to fumble around to find any of your favorite stations.

Please read on to page two for more on the iRock! 830 128MB MP3 Player..  Next

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