128MB MP3 Player Review
I think I can safely say the world of MP3 has evolved and is at a stage of refinement. There has been an enormous explosion of MP3 flash players within the past few years. How many MP3 players does the market need and how many do we need to choose from? Apparently, a lot.
The best MP3 player I have tested until now is the iAudio CW300 (review 80). It has a nice blend of functionally and quality sound. Today you will be reading my review of iAudio’s successor to the CW300, the iAudio4. Will the iAudio4 improve on the already great CW300? Read and find out.
The iAudio4 comes in a smaller and more attractive box than the box that the CW300 arrived in. It’s size and shine probably gets the attention of consumers much more easily.
The package contains the many accessories found in the CW300 and a few more. These are…
In comparison with the CW300, the same accessories make a comeback. The new additions include the simple USB connector, and a LINE-IN recording cable. This bundle is really complete.
Now let’s take a look at the actual MP3 player. The iAudio4 MP3 player being reviewed today holds 128MB. There are larger storage versions available. The iAudio4 comes in a silver color scheme and actually manages to be smaller than the CW300. It measures 2.95x1.26x0.67 inches (W/H/D) and weighs in at just 33g without a battery installed. The biggest contributor to this compactness is the fact that the iAudio4 uses an AAA battery opposed to the CW300’s AA battery. iAudio claims that the MP3 has a battery life of 15 hours. Of course, that depends on which brand of battery you use. Also I don’t know whether they measured 15 hours with or without some neat features the iAudio4 possesses (LCD related). I think the decision to use the AAA battery was a bad decision. I prefer the more widely used AA type because of the longer play times. However, they obviously chose size instead of battery life.
The iAudio4 looks sexy, period. It sports a shiny silver exterior and feels very solid. At the top of this MP3 player is an upgraded LCD screen. This screen offers four lines of LCD screen area and is a definite improvement over the CW300 because it is bigger and more readable. The menu navigation system has not changed much from the CW300.
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The controls are located at the profile and use the flat button type rather than the dial type that the CW300 has. Changing the older design for the iAudio4 was not a change for the better. The flat button controls have a different and awkward feel. They feel flimsy. Their awkwardness showed up during use when I found it easy to accidentally press two buttons together or press both top and bottom profile buttons together.
Located at the base of the iAudio4 is a back cover piece. Compared to the older CW300, now you have to go through the trouble of sliding out the cover and then placing the battery in. When using the USB cable to transfer songs to the iAudio4, you again need to open the back cover in order to utilize the USB connector. iAudio made some compromises with the design of the iAudio4 to suit the smaller form that unfortunately affected convenience.
The iAudio4 comes with a booklet containing 74 pages of clear information to help you know your MP3 player better.
Now let me go through briefly three new features that the iAudio4 has…
JetShell returns with the iAudio4 but now as a newer and updated version. However, it is basically the same yet useful application as before. You can find more on it on the CW300 review.
Using the iAudio4
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The iAudio4 is similar to the iAudio CW300 as I said before. The menu system has not changed much and the button configurations are about the same. There are many new options added on the iAudio4. Among these features are BBE, Mach3Bass, recording bit-rate selection, updated graph equalizer, MPEhance, 3D surround, and pan. These added options under the “JetEffect” heading are designed to enrich the sound quality – and seem to do so in a big way. There are many more options as well, but these are a few that have a big impact on the iAudio4 MP3 player’s listening quality.
When you start up the iAudio4 for the first time, you find there is an iAudio4 theme song pre-loaded on the iAudio4. It’s quite cheesy if you ask me :)
As for the sound quality, the improvements that were made are clearly noticed when compared to the already great iAudio CW300. Sound quality output is higher than ever, bass has taken a big step up from the addition of BBE technology and Mach3Bass, there is more treble to use. All this adds up to very rich sound quality from the iAudio4. It is surprisingly vibrant and carries on the iAudio CW300 tradition.
The voice recording implementation benefits from the sound quality upgrades and has improved. It is still the same clear recording but just with a bit more depth. It is good to note that when recording, there is no hissing noise present (a small problem with the CW300 that was fixed with a firmware upgrade). LINE-IN recording is more fun, though, and it is as easy as plugging in and pressing record.
I have had one strange occurrence during my use with the iAudio4 (tested for a number of weeks) and that would be a freezing of the MP3 player after finishing recording and going back to MP3 playback mode. I suspect it was still recording back to memory…
Once connected to your PC, the iAudio4 reads in “My Computer” as a portable hard drive device automatically. You can now drag and drop songs into the MP3 player bypassing the need of installing the JetAudio software if you choose to do so.
I think the iAudio4 is an improvement to the CW300 from a sound quality perspective. At the same time I feel it has taken a step backwards in the design and convenience area. The decision of utilizing AAA batteries, the flat button type controls, and having to slide open the back piece cover when needing to replace batteries and using the USB connection cannot be said to be an improvement. Overall the iAudio4 is a bit of a hit and a miss. It will depend on your preference…Sound quality versus design and convenience.
It still sounds kickass, though.
Pros and Cons
Obvious improvement in sound quality compared to CW300